Sunday, October 30, 2005

Resounding Restlessness

My God, the weekend is all but over. As usual Halloween in Madison came through with much fanfare and let's not forget the trample of the police riot squad. State Street was cleared just an hour after bar time and mass hysteria ensued. But now it's over. Madison can rest again.

I have to admit, I haven't had as much sleep as I've had this weekend for quite some time. It was good to get some shuteye. I woke up Sunday not on my own accord. A recurring dream had rattled me some and I could not get back to sleep. It's no secret that there is a dream in particular that haunts me. Though the dream may differ every time, something about it is always the same.

Where do I begin...?

The elements that disturbed my slumber were very vivid indeed. I remember driving along a ridge adjoining an ocean coast. I was not alone. A girl, who had been in my dreams for as long as I've had them, was with me. What's strange is that I don't think I really know she is and yet I'm certain I've known her forever. It's a beautiful autumn day and we make a stop at a diner on the way. This diner overlooks a rocky basin that meets the sea. The evening sun is about to set yet it never seems to descend--it just hangs in the balance in its exalted orange radiance over all which fall under its light. It is here we sit to dine and talk. It's then that I know it must be a dream. I can see myself talking, lips moving but not a sound comes forth. She says something to me and I can't hear her either but I know what she has to say.

Before our meal arrives I notice something which I had missed before. This diner which hangs several hundred feet from the water below is actually a train car which was deposited on this rocky ledge. Seats filled both sides of the dining car and the two of us are seated on the ocean side. She makes a quick motion and leaves her chair. Confused, I chase after her until there's a steep set of stairs that go nowhere but up. You'd think it was odd that a train would have a second story but this diner did and I followed behind her. At this point, a passenger from the side says something to us which, for the first time, I could hear his words with my own ears. He mentions something up the road that must be seen for ourselves.

Excited by the idea we left then and there and headed down the track of road that twisted and clung to the rocky ridge. I don't remember much from here on but my next moments of recollection was how the harmony of all which had encompassed that evening had changed. The hue of the evening sun was replaced by cloudy grays and shadows from one corner to the next in a suburban jungle of cement buildings. These offices and towers had shaky foundations that leaned onto another. Cracks formed against the cement front of what must've once been a spectacular skyscraper. Unlike your typical metropolis, this one was deteriorating and the streets flooded. There were other people there as well, trying desperately to get out of the water. The water level was rising rather quickly.

Just then, a bus flew by rapidly and I can barely make out framed faces through the misty windows. The girl from my dreams was on it and she was clawing out for help. Crawling through the water as fast as I could, I swam after her but was not able to catch up to the speeding bus. It wasn't long until it left my sights and I found myself treading water. Rain started coming down hard and the water rose so high that it swallowed any remaining people and they must have drowned. Then, I was alone again.

Activity: 2 | Energy: 2 | Friends: 2

Sunset along Rocky Coast

Speed of Sound by Coldplay

How long before I get in
Before it starts before I begin
How long before you decide or
Before I know what it feels like
Where to, where do i go?
If you never try then you'll never know
How long do i have to climb
Up on the side of this mountain of mine

Look up, I look up at night
Planets are moving at the speed of light
Climb up, up in the trees
Every chance that you get is a chance you seize
How long am I gonna stand
With my head stuck under the sand
I start before I can stop or
Before I see things the right way up

All that noise and all that sound
All those places I have found
And birds go flying at the speed of sound
To show ya how it all began
Birds came flyin from the underground
If you could see it then you'd understand

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Happenin' Halloween

The passing week has been a busy aberration of commitments. Kendo practice has taken precedence over social events and the academic forefront isn't letting up anytime soon. I had studied all night for an exam on Thursday followed by another on the next day. The theme for the trail end of the week was a lack of sleep, much caffeine, and an endless stack of study material.

Relieved that the barrage of exams had ended on Friday afternoon I went into work feeling much relieved. I began my evening sewing up my costume while juggling my work assignments. My plan was to sew all the accoutrements for the Robin, boy wonder costume before Stephanie's Halloween Party later tonight. Her theme this year was costumes that begin with the letter "R".

Once I finished my short shift I left DoIT to pick up Amber and we drove down to Steph's new place. Pardeeville Amber had rigged a box into a Rubik's cube for her costume. At the party, people went all out in their elaborate ensembles. There was Radioactive Man, Fallout Boy, the Red Ranger, and so much more. Our host, Stephanie, was dressed as a bloddy right-winged Republican. I must thank her for the great spread of food that she must've spent the better part of the day preparing. And I must not forget to mention the now infamous cider vodka that was last year's life of the party.

Later in the night, David and Julie dropped by and one can only guess what David was suppose to be. Also at the party was Max and Mollie, a newlywed couple whom I haven't seen in much too long. They're looking great and we joked around about me being the Asian Lamers--an attempt to infiltrate the family. Hey, for all intents and purposes, Max and Mollie are family in my book--ever since Max teaching me English...LOL!

All in all, everything was great. The food, the drinks, the people...the party turned out great. I really needed to get out of the self-imposed monastic recluse of my recent self. It's a simple reminder that there are things out there which concern more than the restricted sphere of academics and Kendo. There are friends. Lean one way and the world's off balance. As always, I have Steph to thank for such grateful invitation.

Halloween '05

Activity: 3 | Energy: 1 | Friends: 3

Halloween '05

Monday, October 24, 2005

Birthday Lunch for My Mom

It's incredible how many birthday celebrations I've gone through in the past few weeks. For Mom's birthday, Diana, Dad and I took her out for lunch at Red Lobster. Despite the gathering of friends for their birthdays, it's been quite some time since we've gone out as a family.

Happy Birthday Mom!

Activity: 3 | Energy: 2 | Friends: 2

Fei and Diana goofing off on Mom's Birthday

Here's a picture your kids goofing off at lunch....

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Haunted Wisconsin

I woke up Friday much refreshed. Class just flew by and I felt comfortable loaning a few of the art books Sensei had given me to Prof. Phillips for viewing. Leaving the museum I headed directly to DoIT to cover a short shift so that I could take the night off. Again, work just flew by.

With half the day gone I went home to work out. I finished up a last few details for tonight's trip to a Haunted Cornmaze in West Bend. With my work behind me I met up with Amber at the Memorial Union where we attended the Wisconsin fireworks that were celebrating Homecoming. We stood about as close as I've ever been to where the firing happens and both her and I got drenched with ash and debris. It wasn't terrible so we stayed put to enjoy the spectacular light show before running out for some food.

For dinner, I introduced Amber to Mediterranean Cafe as we took our meals to go, eventually situating ourselves in Library Mall. Our supper went by in the casual atmosphere of the University square where skaters performed tricks and the church group sang in chorus. The two of us did little more than sit, eat, and converse. Once we finished up with dinner we headed back to the Union to warm up with some hot cocoa while waiting for Tyler, Brock and friends.

The way up to West Bend seemed fairly simple but alas, I had gotten us lost several times until ultimately asking for directions. We came upon the MeadowBrooks Haunted Cornfield at a pretty late hour and waited our turn to enter the maze. The lengthy journey through the tall stalks of corn in the darkness was quite entertaining. I was even startled a few times by the dark creatures which jumped out of nowhere. The impression I got was everyone had a great time.

Now that the evening was over, I rushed back to Madison so that I would entertain my dear friend Stephanie whose birthday gathering I was already late for. I swore that I would make it back and I did so to catch the tail end of the party. Mostly, I was just glad to see her and be there to tell her Happy Birthday!

Activity: 3 | Energy: 3 | Friends: 3

Haunted Wisconsin


Today, I wish you a Happy Birthday!
Haven't seen much of you as of late,
Things are amiss.

Hope all is well, see you I insist,
Of course you are worth the wait.
Your friend forever and always, Fei.

Happy Birthday!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

First All-Nighter of the Semester

It's been a long day. Not having slept the night before, I endured my first all-nighter of the semester. I felt like I did well and I recognized nearly all of the works which Prof. Murray had chosen for comparison.

Once I got out of the exam, a tremendous amount of pressure was lifted from my shoulders. I checked my email and decided to attend a WiscMail training session at DoIT. Those who attended were mostly Green Teamers and all of us were treated with Pizza--a much welcomed treat for a long night of study. Immediately after the training session I went upstairs for my Thursday night shift. At the end of the day, I counted being awake for nearly 36 hours. When I get home, there will be no place to go but to bed.

Activity: 3 | Energy: 1 | Friends: 2

Monday, October 10, 2005

Book Manuscript Accepted

Waking up in the afternoon feels pretty crummy. Though I might have slept in a bit, it feels like I've wasted much of the day. At Kendo practice, the unease and slowness did not fair well for my performance was rather slipshod and hindered by sluggishness. I was yelled at by Mark ceaselessly and didn't improve much. The only thing that kept me going was that Kiyota Sensei had invited a select few of us to dinner after practice.

Sensei had invited me, Mark, Travis, and Eric for a get-together at Imperial Garden in celebration of having his book manuscript accepted for publishing. We were allowed one guest so I invited Amber to join me. I wanted to give her the opportunity to meet Sensei in person. I've spoken lots about Kiyota Sensei and it's true how he's had an impact in my life.

The dinner conversation was fairly light with Sensei wanting to know more about Amber. Among these subjects were what's her course of study, where's Pardeeville, and what's in her future. She had mentioned a possible application for studying abroad in Australia. That's great. When the food finally came, it was amusing to teach Pardeeville Amber how to use chopsticks. After several tries, she grasped the concept yet needs patience and practice--the same can be said of Kendo. LOL!

Activity: 3 | Energy: 1 | Friends: 3

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Rustic Beauty

I went to the SWAP Shop with Brent on Friday morning followed by a light day of class. Getting out early I picked up David and met up with Alice for a burger at Dotty Dumplings Dowry.

The weekend was fairly uneventful. I picked up a new client for my computer consulting job that I do in my spare time. The couple that I work for is very nice and just wanted some guidance with a Macintosh setup.

On Sunday I stopped by Jack's house out in Stoughton to assist in re-setting up his wireless network. This was accomplished by using a pair of wireless bridges to connect his basement internet entry point to an access point in his garage. The task at hand was to erect an outdoor antenna to bridge the link between his house and a distant neighbor. The setup was quite successful and I ended up having dinner with his family. Since coming to college, Jack has been like a father or a big brother to me. He hired me onto Green Team and is a big factor for me staying on until there's a suitable replacement. Anyways, I couldn't turn my back on the team any more than they could.

I left his house as the sun was beginning to slide off into the horizon. On the drive back, a warm feeling overwhelmed me as I looked into the sky to see the trickle of the sun's light beam and dance on the tan stalks of corn adorning the country road. There were few cars present and even less people out for the evening. Until now I had not felt the season's change. The blues and greens of the summer months had been replaced by the browns and oranges of autumn's grace. The fall signals an impending winter dissolution. Still, I welcome change.

Activity: 3 | Energy: 2 | Friends: 2

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Birthday Dinner for Coral

Tuesday came with barely a break in the day. I had classes from morning until late afternoon and then some time for a late snack. After a battery of Art History classes, the evening brought with it some software training that's going to help me land a new job. Tonight's agenda was going to cover the use of Custom Style Sheets or otherwise known as CSS. It's used for the design of modern, professional-looking websites. Beyond the aesthetic value, CSS is great for implementing accessibility options (for blind users, etc.) which are quite inherent in today's business standards.

Since leaving the house this morning, I've been either seated or moving about from class to class. At the end of my two hour software training, I had to get up and move on again to arrive fashionably late for Coral's Birthday dinner at Casa de Lara. The birthday girl had turned twenty-two and I got her a little Japanese frog charm (kaeru) to keep in her purse. In the Japanese culture, kaeru is the word for frog but also means to return, thus by keeping this charm close by, the owner can ensure a safe journey as well as money and fortune returning to her.

The rest of the usual crew was there for the dinner including David, Kelly, and Julie. I only stayed for the dinner and did not go out to spend the night with the group. It's been far too long a day and I need some rest, nonetheless, I still wish Coral a very Happy Birthday!

Activity: 3 | Energy: 2 | Friends: 3

Coral's Birthday '05

Monday, October 03, 2005

A Lesson in Humility

I slept in a bit on Sunday. It was good to finally get a good night's rest. When I got up I checked my messages to see that Julie and David had wanted to join me for some afternoon sailing. Lauren, a friend of Julie's was visiting from California and my two friends were showing her around Madison.

When I get downtown I meet the three of them down by the piers and we quickly takeover a returning Badger Sloop. Wind conditions were fairly steady on our way out as a we were blessed with Green Flag winds and good weather. Once out past the mooring field, the wind started to really pick up. It was completely manageable until it came time to return to shore. On the rippling lake surface I saw huge patches of strong gusty winds. From far away the Boathouse had raised the Blue Flag signaling heavy winds. I would later discover that we were getting blasted by winds from 20-25 mph. Although I won't excuse myself for having some difficulty getting back in, the strong winds and lack of weight in the boat made for a hard time setting a straight course--especially since I didn't have any experienced crew manning the jib.

What made matters worse was how my passengers in the boat were starting to lose their faith in me as skipper as strong gusts pounded away at my sails. Although it felt like I lost control a few times my crew didn't know enough to stay calm in order for me to make slight adjustments to sail trim. Eventually, fearing that I've completely freaked out Lauren, I had David lower the jib and I would sail back by the main sail only, however, in that time, Lauren had flagged down Harvey (the Rescue Boat). I guess she no longer trusted her Captain to get back and we were dragged back in. At first I felt a bit of embarrassment and later a feeling of failure. I didn't mean to scare her and I hope that she would like to sail again.

In sailing as it is in life, there will be patches of uncertainty no matter what course you take. We just have to get through them. Sometimes we have to accept the help of others. Today we fought the weather and I lost. Today I learned a good lesson in humility.

Activity: 3 | Energy: 3 | Friends: 3

Sailing with Lauren and Julie

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Brock's First Badger Bash

In these last few years I didn't buy season tickets for Badger football. I just didn't feel like I would go to all the games. Since this was Barry Alvarez's last season as head coach I felt the need to go to atleast one game. Also, it has come to my attention that Brock has never gone to a single football game here at the UW and has not experienced the Badger football traditions at Camp Randall.

I got us a few tickets for today's game, the Wisconsin Badgers versus the Indiana Hoosiers. We trounce them of course on our way to a hopefully undefeated season. The game was mostly exciting in the first half with spectacular interceptions and some well executed scoring drives. I taught Brock some of the cheers as well as the second period singing of the school alma matar and the third quarter "jump, jump." We stayed only until then in the game before leaving with most of the crowd.

With several hours before work we dropped by the Union Terrace for a beer to hang out with Caitlin and her roommate and Pardeeville Amber. We didn't stay long until the three of us, Amber, Brock, and I decide to take out a Badger Sloop for some sailing on the lake. The weather and winds were absolutely perfect as we skimmed from shore to shore taking turns at the helm.

Activity: 3 | Energy: 2 | Friends: 3

Brock's First Badger Bash