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A guy like me would be frightened of birthdays since everything (or most things) after the twenty-first birthday might start going downhill.  For me, I often critically think whether I have been using my time wisely, or if I would regret not being sexually active and hunt for relationships.  I removed my birthday from facebook, since I feel weird when “friends” only message you on your birthday when they are actively checking statuses and pictures.  I did prevent the flood of wall posts, but my birthday this year actually turned out to be great with a weekend of festivities.

 

I. The Messages

Even if I did not roam around town and publicize my birthday, I received warm messages from my parents and my brother around midnight.  I have been extremely close to family members since when I was young, and I was glad to hear from them.  They kept telling me that I have been an amazing son that they could trust and let me go, or that I am the most amazing brother in the world.  Sounds cliche, I know, but those words mean a lot to me since they portray love.

Other than my parents, I got a surprising email from my childhood friend Lincoln.  We went to the same elementary and junior high schools, but he left Taipei at a young age with part of his family to go to Africa.  He is now doing well as a doctor in Scotland, and he remembered my birthday too!  I was happy to hear from him and that he is doing well with his brother.  Hopefully we will meet up and catch up in person soon.

The last message I want to include here is a message from my college friend Kevin.  Even though I removed my birthday from facebook a while ago, he left a post about it today.  He was traveling for the past few days, but he remembered my birthday and wished me well too.  I was touched since I did not expect anyone to leave a message of that sort on my wall on facebook, but Kevin’s care reminded me of our first year in college.  ‘Tis amazing that we still keep in touch although we are at different states in the country now.

 

II. The Visitor That Arrives Back

I met John last summer when he came to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to conduct research as a graduate student from the University of Texas-Austin.  ‘Twas a great summer with some meetups accompanied by drinks, food, and conversations.  John messaged me earlier this month indicating that he will be back to town this summer and that he will be arriving around the weekend.  I noticed that he was back on the eve of my birthday, and gave him a call.  We chatted and soon decided to catch up and meet up since he was around my neighborhood.  We walked around town for a bit and then went to Brocach.  ‘Twas a great catchup of more than two hours, and he bought me a pint of Guinness at that Irish pub.  He then drove me back to my place, and we are already talking about hanging out together this summer.

 

III. The Night Out

My friends Colleene, Collin, and Peter were talking about going to Madison Children’s Museum for Adult Swim, where adults roam around the museum and rejuvenate themselves for an evening offered once a month, a month ago when we had dinner at Colleene’s.  Seeing that there was one in May, I emailed the group a few weeks ago seeing if people were still interested.  Unfortunately, Collin would have to be in New York for his job, but Colleene and Peter quickly gave me a YES.  Who knew that Colleene remembered my birthday and noticed that May’s Adult Swim was on my birthday?  So a simple trip to the museum soon become a lot more complex with planning…but after a few emails, we got something set.  We first had dinner at Kabul, an Afghan restaurant along State Street, at 5:30PM, and then we walked along State Street and arrived at the museum by 7:20PM.  We had so much fun in the museum, and left at 9:30PM for a seven-minute walk to grab desserts at Nostrano.  ‘Twas a great evening that ended at 11PM with these two wonderful folks, and then I stopped by my friend and former student Vinod’s place.  I promised Vinod, who has the same birthday, that I would stop by and say hi since I was invited to his birthday/graduation party, and I did.  I stayed there until 11:30PM and headed home.

I passed by many folks on the streets since ’twas bartime.  I walked along University Avenue and saw funny faces going into some undergraduate bars.  Who would know that there would be three gunshots around that area later at 1AM?  Thankfully I was in bed by then.

 

III. The Party In The Farm

On the next day of my birthday was Dr. Brad and Dr. Isadora’s graduation party on a farm in Oregon.  I met Brad and Isadora through volleyball and was invited to the party. They have been great friends to talk to and that they indicated that there is an end of life as a doctorate student.  They will both be moving to Chicago, and I am glad to be able to attend and send them off.

Since I currently co-own a car, my brother was using the car by then, and that I will be buying my own car later this or next year, I got a ride from Erik, whom I also befriended through those four-hour volleyball sessions on Saturdays and/or Sundays.  ‘Twas a nice ride with conversations, and Erik’s wife Andi joined us too.  We were a bit lost at first, but we were amazed by the mansion and the farm Brad and Isadora booked for the party and for accommodating their family members.  The place was HUGE and there were TONS of food.  We all felt as if we were in heaven while walking around with wine, interacting with others, playing beanbag toss and croquet, and so much more.  ‘Twas a great party, and four hours passed by quickly.

 

IV. A New Friend For the Day

When playing outdoor volleyball today, I made some contact and interactions with Adam, a guy who came to Madison to start his business.  He was a jolly guy to talk to, and he was pretty good at sand volleyball too after growing up in Michigan and living in California by the bay area.  We only chatted for ten minutes at the end of the games, and then we parted.

I came back to my place a bit tired, but interestingly I felt that perhaps I should go out and start dating again.  I felt lonely again somehow despite having so many awesome friends, and perhaps I just hope to be able to cuddle with someone.  I started texting John for advice.  He is a guy who likes me a lot, even to the point of flirting with me…and I value him as a friend.  He is also encouraging too, for he told me not to go to bars by myself and that I deserve way better than that…that I am a quality, attractive, and intellectual man…and that I would be a great catch for any guy.  ‘Tis funny though since I’ve been single my entire life for now, and maybe that’s cause I can be a bit picky; I like someone who is tall around my height since I cannot see myself making out with a 4’2 person, healthy/athletic and even muscular, well-educated with travel experience, curious and open-minded, nonsmoker and non drug abusers, independent and organized, and fun to talk to.  Unfortunately after all the eight dates I went on, I have not found the right person yet.  I then decided to take a walk around town to calm myself and to destress myself from work, and who knew that when I passed by Michelangelo’s, I saw a familiar face with dark hair and thick eyebrows looking at me.  ‘Twas Adam!  Haha he was working with a cup of Joe, but he still offered me to sit with him on the table and chat with him for a bit.  He is in his thirties, but he looks young.  He graduated from Michigan (AA); lived in New York, Germany, and San Francisco, been to many parts of Europe; and is a great guy to talk to with more questions and exchange of ideas.  We have many commonalities too: our appreciation for applications since he is an engineer, our desire to get out of Madison and go somewhere else, our aim to do great things in life, our passion for travel and beer, and so much more.  I sat there for a bit more than an hour with excitement, and we exchanged numbers at the end.  Although I do not expect much from this, I am glad to gain a new friend and hopefully we will hang out at the end of this week or soon in the summer.

 

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Madison is a transition point where people just come and go.  My heart feels funny every year in Madison around my birthday since it coincides with the graduation weekend.  Seeing those smiles from people walking down the streets with their gowns reminded me of my own college graduation, which was also a moment where good friends depart from one another.  I was a workaholic in my undergraduate years, and it took me until graduate school to learn to socialize with others.  I regret not spending enough times with friends in parties as an undergraduate, but the only thing I can do now is to renew friendship while gaining new ones too.

I am blessed to have so many wonderful and amazing people in my life.  Along with family members, I am surprised when a few of my friends would remember my birthday and/or spend part of their time with me.  The evening with Colleene and Peter strengthened our relationship, and we will be hanging out again within two weeks on Collin’s big day.  The awesome trip to the children’s museum reminded me that we can be forever young and we should not worry much when we age.  Sure…there can be arthritis, broken hips, and Alzheimer’s, but men and women can age like fine wine too.  Although many people have left Madison, I am glad to be able to send people off and at least wish them well before they leave.  However, I will be interacting with incoming students next semester when teaching, and the cycle begins again.  Although I hate the fact that the end is another beginning, perhaps that is how I motivate myself to move forward nowadays.  When I was in first grade, I cried after the last day of school since I worried about not seeing my friends again, but things went well during my second grade and even in graduate school.  New people, such as Adam, will come into our lives, and we need not to live in the same moment all the time but move forward while viewing photos from the past.

Thanks to all of the beautiful people in my life, I have so much love during my twenty-six years of existence…and I look forward for more to come and share!

 

Despite all the pressure from research and my approaching qualifying exam in August, I somewhat felt broed and lonely.  This was not the first time I felt as if I were Mr. Lonely, but ’twas definitely the first time when I did not have the urge to move forward.  I still got things accomplished, but I noticed that I had been in front of the computer a lot more often for the past two to three days.  My true self would be around town exercising, mingling with people, or simply biking around…but I noticed that the me for the past two days would be watching movies or searching for people to chat with, which could be sad.  I also could not fall asleep since I yearned for someone to be beside me…Things changed today though, as I went to one of the Thursday events at church.  I had not been attending those events since the beginning of the school year due to my busy schedule, and I thought ’twas time to go back.

Tonight’s’ graduate student and young professional group merged with the undergraduate group at 7PM due to a Dominican sister giving a talk about Ave Maria.  Since I had free time tonight and since I went to a Catholic elementary school ran by Dominican nuns, I thought of attending the event.  I was sitting by myself at first, but then a young lady invited me to sit with her group.  We did not chat too much since I am usually shy towards strangers and because I had a long day.  Plus, the presentations forbade us to interact.  She left early though, ditching her friends behind.  So I sat in the middle of the crowd, said hi to James when he passed by, listened to the talk, sang some songs, and then off I went to mingle!  I did bump into some of my current students and said hi to them, and then I joined the graduate student and young professional crowd.  I first met Doug, who was my friend and buddy from the 11AM Mass choir and Bible study, and then we headed downstairs to the basement to meet with the others at 9PM.  ‘Twas actually great to be back and to see faces I did not see for almost six to eight months.  ‘Twas amazing to be able to reintroduce myself and learn names of some, to talk to Liz and Kenny, and to join a group circle by being entertained with conversations.

Although I did not really know the people that well, I at least knew them of their names before since I interacted with them through service activities, men’s night playing poker or grilling out somewhere, or other events.  Before though, I tried to distant myself from them since I thought that I was not as Catholic as they were, but they are actually fine young men!  Just to see Luke and Andrew being so joyful and humorous, just to see people in the circle being so expressive and accepting of others, just to be united with these men made me feel that perhaps I do belong somewhere and that there are people who would accept me for who I am and invite me into their group.  Although I could be quite accomplished in many ways, I mostly felt that I would be used by others to help them move furniture to their new place and never heard back from them (eh hem, such as my Ayn Rand following “friends”) or even in the dating scene.  ‘Twas great to be back, and I look forward to making up for what I had missed for more than a semester and to get to know them.  ‘Tis possible that a few of us will go on a trip together next year, but I will write more about the trip when it is official.

The interactions ended at 10PM for me since I needed to go buy avocados and they were heading to a bar.  I wished Doug well since he was thinking of working on some research tonight and some of the others that were heading to the bar.  Since 7PM, I thought of emailing Erich since I lost contact with him since the beginning of the spring semester.  He is a great and holy guy, and we shared many wonderful memories together: talking about our lives and helping each other, going to Caroline’s place for pancakes and breakfast, going to ballroom dancing, and much more.  We would often bump into each other on State Street, and the last time when I saw him was in January.  He was planning to study abroad in Bonn this semester, but he changed his mind.  He also seemed to be frustrated and gloomy when I saw him in January, and I thought of him throughout the evening and planned on emailing him when I got home.  Who knew that when I went out of the center after parting from the graduate student and young professional group, I saw Erich standing in front of me!  He saw him, had his eyebrows raised with delight, and soon we were embracing one another!!!!  Who could have known that God works in mysterious ways?  We soon started exchanging questions to see how we are doing in life, and he is doing well.  He is still a caring guy, and he will be graduating next semester.  He also has been taking care of this elderly guy with Parkinson’s Disease, whom I saw before in Mass, and know they would go to a church in Middleton.  ‘Twas great to see Erich cleanly shaved and smiling too, for he is a handsome man with a big heart.  We chatted for around twenty minutes, and ’twas great catching up with him.  Since he thought of talking to another person, I let him go before ’twas too late at night, but hopefully we will be able to grab lunch together sometime with his friend!

Love does not mean to find some attractive and to sleep with him or to perform sexual acts.  Love does not mean to use someone as kleenex and then throw him away.  Love is something a bit deeper that requires patience and sacrifice, for love is when you reach out to people beside you and to welcome them into your circle.  After tonight, I do not feel as lonely as the past few evenings.  I felt that there are people I can talk to and be with.  Sure, we might have disagreements and different views, but we could talk about those with one another and that I am never alone.  Even if I feel despair, I need to recognize that God loves me, and that Mary will be with me.  I got many amazing friends and people around me, and I just need to make sure that I am not blindfolded and being self-centered.  Similar to the great folks from tonight, I hope and pray that I can carry their traditions and reach out to others as well, whether it be a small step or not.  Seeing that ’tis 11:30PM, I know that I will be sleeping quite well tonight 🙂

Kevin was my buddy from the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults group at St. Paul’s University Catholic Center a year ago, and he was there since the ex-Methodist wanted to get married in a Catholic church and was inspired by the sense of morals and community by some of his Catholic friends.  We initially sat distant from one another, staring at the group leader on Sunday evenings and eventually breaking the silence to answer questions or volunteer to read text.  Soon, I noticed that he looked familiar and had been participating in the 11AM Sunday Mass choir with me, and so we started breaking the ice and hitting things off.  We became good friends and supported one another, and then I was baptized and the both of us were confirmed in the Easter of 2011.  Since then, I continued attending Mass around the downtown area, and Kevin started going to a church closer to his apartment and workplace.

Kevin introduced me to Jen, his fiance, and a few of his friends through greetings around the downtown area but mainly through Indian food.  After one of the Mass sessions, Kevin invited me to join him and his group for lunch, indicating that it has been a tradition for him to go to Indian lunch buffets after Mass.  It began with his mom, who with the family of normal Midwestern potato and burger lovers visited him on a sunny Sunday and decided for the family to try some “impoverished nation cuisine” for lunch after Mass.  Since then, Kevin and his family fell in love with Indian food, and Kevin would go to the usual spot around Capitol Square.  So…that was how I ended going to a few of those, including a session where I took Kevin, Jen, and two friends to the popular and my favorite Indian food restaurant Maharani around the downtown area for lunch buffets, and the five of us saw a big gay truck with balloons and drag queens passing by our eyes.

Time passed by, and I rarely see Kevin and the gang around.  One of his friends whom I befriended for a summer moved to Amherst for graduate school, and Kevin and Jen would drive back to Eau Claire and Minnesota and became occupied with wedding planning.  However, I still keep in touch with them mostly through email and poorly through facebook…and Kevin and I decided to meet for lunch after today’s Mass.  I was excited since Kevin has been out-of-town for nearly every weekend, and ’twas great to be able to see him again.

After today’s choir, I brought the hymn books to the music room and started mingling for a bit.  Then, Kevin entered the room and appeared in front of me, wearing his usual sneakers and shorts.  He then asked if Jen could join us, and of course I said yes.  So the three of us started chatting and catching up with one another after exchanging hugs, and soon we were walking on State Street.  I asked Kevin where he would love to go for lunch, and he told me “INDIAN LUNCH BUFFET!” without hesitation.  I laughed, but ’twas great since I love Indian food and became wiser in choosing the healthier dishes instead of the buttery and oil-soaked ones since last time.  We continued chatting while walking, and eventually arrived at the same ol’ spot on West Mifflin Street.  Somehow the ownership was different and the name of the restaurant was changed to Mirch Masala despite the same paintings and decor in the establishment, but we still had a great time.  Kevin loved the fried vegetable pakoras, and Jen usually gets some along with curry too.  For me, I am a huge fan of samosas and curry, so anyone can win my heart by having Indian food with me.  I also tried some fish, chicken, and beef dishes along with TONS of servings of vegetables.  We continued chatting about wedding details and even frustrations, Kevin’s work, Jen’s nursing career and moving to Madison from Eau Claire, my progress since the last time we met, my teaching and students, future goals, bridezillas, and many other exciting topics.

After two plates for the each of us and constant exchange of words, lunch came to an end and we enjoyed the sun by walking along State Street and back to the area where I parked my bike and where Kevin parked his car.  Kevin surprisingly paid for my dinner since he remembered that I paid for the two previous ones, so that was funny since I was going to pay for the three of us due to them not being around the downtown area as often.  I also shared with them my dilemma with their wedding date, since Collin set his wedding on the same day, and Eau Claire is five hours from Waukegan.  Kevin was understanding and told me not to worry if I could not make it since many people will be married that day…and even Jen’s cousin was invited to three weddings on that day!  I did not indicate a 100% NO, but I told them that I will mail my RSVP to them on May Day.  They did not know about this, but of course I will mail a card with a gift to wish the lovely couple well!

The one-hour and a half interaction was enjoyable and splendid, and I was glad to see Kevin and Jen again.  After talking to them, I learned that Kevin and Jen are planning to reside in Madison and establish a family, so I will have someone I can visit as a reason to travel to Madison in the future.  I am happy to see them so in love with one another, and that is just true love.  They would not criticize each other due to small things and flaws, but they cherish one another and determined to grow old together.  This kind of love should be more visible and applauded in the world–no matter if ’tis heterosexual, homosexual, or others.  So many people would become impatient with one another or had an affair or scandal, resulting in a broken family.  For most people around my age, they do not seem to value a deep and meaningful relationships but often seek for hookups to fulfill their instant pleasures…making me a dinosaur of some sort.  Even in love, people learned to make sacrifice and tough decisions while aiming for their goals to support themselves and their loved ones…and I always admire the lovely couples in their eighties who walk around town, holding hands and smiling with one another.  I could see Kevin and Jen being those couples in the future, and I just hope that I can be like that one day.  ‘Tis true that I am mainly a professional, confident, and independent man with goals in the short- and long-run, but I also hope that I will be able to find the one I love and who loves me, and that we can grow old with one another.

 

Although life in graduate school can be boring for some people, where my schedule is: go to lab and do research, teach and grade assignments, exercise/work out in the gym, attend meetings and seminars, play volleyball, bike around town, check with my brother, talk to my parents, and then repeat…I always try to make myself occupied with tasks to do and people to see.  Many people would therefore view me as a workaholic, but I just prefer to have a fulfilling day before getting back to my place to read National Geographics, listen to music, cook dinner, watch movies, and sleep.  Even though life can be a drag with repetition, I aim to continue moving forward and make progress while feeling blessed to have so many good folks around me.

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EINS

After meeting with my committee members and finally getting certified as a doctoral student, I began searching from a strain of mice recommended by one of the faculty members to include in my projects.  After constant communications with my faculty advisor and the committee member whom bumped into me in seminars and knows me, I received the mice two Fridays ago.

My faculty advisor initially requested me to see if those knockout mice are available commercially since it would take me months to create the murine strain from scratch.  However, phone calls with staff from Jackson Laboratory led to a negative, and soon I was thinking of Plan B.  Luckily, the committee member was contacting a professor in Tokyo who created the murine strain on my behalf, and I was permitted to use those mice without breeding them.  Since the committee member only has a few old mice left, I soon searched and heard from a German researcher here at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who bred the mice and needed to eliminate or move those mice to prevent housing costs from increasing.  After emails and phone calls, I got to know the German researcher and discovered that he is pretty close to my advisor and my advisor’s wife…He has a deep voice, portraying humor with his heavy accent.  Haha perhaps I do have a thing for Germans!  Anyway, I was glad for him to help me and to offer me some guidance regarding these mice too.

I received twenty mice that I requested with two extra, and ’twas a great Easter gift.  These knockout mice used in immunological research typically costs more than $150 for one, and boy would I not be able to purchase twenty of these mice with my own lunch money.  These knockout mice also look identical to the wildtypes since they have the same background, but a wildtype mouse from Jackson Laboratory would cost merely $17 in contrast.  With the help from so many people, I am then responsible to put these mice into good use and to advance on my research.  After this experiment, ’tis possible that I will be in contact with the Japanese professor and German researcher to set protocols and agreements on breeding so that I could maintain my own colony.

Many individuals, including some of my students, think that a graduate student in the biosciences or a researcher would wear lab coats with thick glasses, have messy facial hair and some quirkiness, and reside in a lab building (and even sleep there)…from one of my co-teaching assistants, one of my beloved students even came into the zoology building last Wednesday hoping to see me and talk to me…and I am only in that building on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays when I have to teach or attend TA meetings.  Horror stories about postdocs and graduate students from Boston locking their lab notebooks and being mischievous in sharing equipments and details would fascinate me since I would apply to postdoc opportunities in Boston and since my observations of labs in Taiwan, California, Germany, and Wisconsin are quite the opposite with an emphasis on collaboration.  Being able to communicate with faculty across the Pacific Ocean and obtaining free mice from a German researcher increased my faith that scientists should communicate and collaborate with one another, and that we should not be hiding inside the closet the entire time but share to gain feedback.  That was how I “used” my committee members too.  Instead of completely ignoring them, I do my best to obtain feedback from them and meet with them.  Hopefully things will pan out and that I can continue making progress to attend a conference soon.

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ZWEI

One of my co-TAs Michael told me that his birthday, 19 April, has been a day with calamities in history.  Since we would be proctoring an exam with other co-TAs that evening and one other co-TA Emily would have defended her Master’s thesis that morning, I used my happy planning skills and informed my colleagues about meeting at around 6:55PM to celebrate so that Michael would not become a Debbie Downer.  I knew that Michael would be back by then from his run and that Emily would be there too.  Unfortunately, we could not imbibe alcoholic beverages prior to proctoring, so I preordered a cake from Lanes Bakery, another great bakery in Madison with many cake selections, donuts, party supplies, and other baked goodies.

‘Twas raining on Thursday, and I walked around town to pick up the nine-inch cake.  I hid the cake on a cart with candles in a different room, and eventually wheeled the cart into the room at 7:05PM when everyone was there.  ‘Twas great to be able to make friends and people you know smile, and ’twas great to see people eating cake and loving it.  Somehow, words got into Michael and Emily that I was the one who bought the cake, and they both offered me gratitude at the end…which was unexpected since I did not want to take credit for the entire celebration.  The thanks with a pat on the back from Emily and a “Thanks joe, really appreciate it. total surprise. way too generous. thanks” text message from Michael did make me smile in my heart though.

And from here, one can see that Michael is pretty rough for cutting cake.  Maybe ’tis in the genes of civil engineers or people who study water management…but ’twas funny to see people coloring outside boxes, not drawing straight lines when connecting dots, and not thinking about symmetry but bringing out the au natural, free self when cutting cake for the fourteen in the room!

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DREI

I spent time with three lovely folks of the same age for four hours last Sunday evening over healthy comfort food and great conversations.  From the group, I knew two of them really well since I lived at least a year with them.  Peter though, was someone I never got to know but he caught my eye as being a great guy.  I first met him through another friend who was present on Sunday a few years ago, and Peter left me an impression of being a brewer with shiny earrings since we bumped into each other at his house party with his home brewed pumpkin ale and later around campus with minimal conversations.  Having to interact with each other over four hours made me appreciate him a lot more too, for he has traits of an ideal man (or as I called him, a ladies’ man).  Whenever someone is speaking, Peter would always remain eye contact to the speaker with his bright smile and portray interest in any topic with questions and/or comments.  When he speaks, he also looks around the room to make sure that no one was left out…and since I sat directly across from him, I got to see him smile more!  He also would compliment and thank people frequently i.e. on a dish that was cooked or a conversation piece, but not in a ass-kissing or superficial way.  He would also ask the hostess if he could offer to help, and he is extremely good at chopping strawberries.  He is also well-educated and has goals to achieve in life.  Overall, he is a gem in my eyes who is just not too desperate and is comfortable with himself.

With the past few incidents with folks I met on a date or social event, mostly everyone did not have the qualities that Peter portrays.  In many incidents, including one that took place two weeks ago, the guys would be so addicted to their cellphones that their eyeballs would check the screen every five to ten minutes.  There would be limited eye contacts.  Some guys might still be working during the meeting, but why schedule to meet when you are still at work?  I did meet some folks I thought that were great at first, eventually exchanging contact information and hanging out at their places, but being focused on work all the time prevented others and me to schedule another meet-up.  And then there were those who just simply do not have much to share or talk about, displaying dullness in life.  Perhaps I am just not the guy who enjoys awkward silences with someone, even through a graduate school social event…but there is a ticking bomb in everyone that would explode with passionate conversations ranging from your current research topic, travel experiences, politics, sports, maintaining an aquarium, good food, and more.  Sure, there might be those who do not have the financial and intellectual ability to go to higher education, but maturing and mastering life is a must for me and would definitely turn me on.  And worst of all are the leeches: they expect you to be next to them 24/7 and to pay for their dinners all the time.  I can be a giving tree to my friends and family, but being a twenty-five year-old sugar daddy is a different topic.
Perhaps my criteria are the ones that are preventing me from getting into a relationship.  ‘Tis true that graduate school is occupying my life and that I aim to go somewhere else for a postdoc opportunity, but ’tis saddening when even those in graduate school do not have higher goals in life or cannot even take care of themselves healthily and even financially.  I also am not comfortable meeting someone for the first time and then hop onto bed too, since I prefer to be celibate until I get into a relationship.  Even Peter, my friends, and I agreed that online dating is just not ideal to meet people since folks on there are desperately horny and even if ’tis hard to meet someone in person, the internet is still not the best place to get to know someone.  Oh well, I guess that although I have been single for the past twenty-five years, I am grateful to have a few great friends with Peter’s quality to keep me company.
Funnily, I got a wedding invitation of a guy friend who was present Sunday evening when I checked my lab’s mailbox on Monday.  ‘Twas surprising since he asked me for my mailing address a few weeks ago when we met together for dinner, and I did not expect him to invite me to his wedding.  The wedding card was simple and beautiful too, and that makes it the fourth wedding invitation to attend.  I never knew that received this many wedding invitations could be problematic too!  When I was an undergrad, I received two but declined to attend those since I was back in Taiwan visiting family.  Now as a grad student, many things have changed in my life and I attended my first US wedding a few Octobers ago.  With these four wedding invitations, one will be in Madison and I knew the groom really well since he was my Godfather.  I met the bride-to-be a few times too, and she is a nice lady.  Since the wedding will be in Madison, I of course RSVPed to attend since I would not need to pay for hotels and could easily drive around town to destinations.  For two of those (including the one I received on Monday), they will be on the same Saturday, and I could not fly or drive from one to the other since they are five hours apart.  ‘Tis a tough decision to make, but I eventually will have to decline one of those invitations.  Would I want to go to a wedding of a friend and former roommate or a buddy from church?  Would I want to drive to Northern Wisconsin or a city north of Chicago?  Church and hotel reception or one in a concert hall/movie palace?  I guess I have until early May to RSVP.
The last invitation is from one of my cousins who live in San Francisco.  As a man in his thirties, he found the love of his life (whom I heard is related to Dick Cheney) and is having the wedding in Maui.  Destination weddings could be a nice vacation, but they are hella expensive and could be time-consuming if you cannot really take a break.  I have been in communications with the cousin’s sister, who is the bridesmaid and another of my cousin (hah!)…and ’tis possible that I will not attend that wedding due to airfare for more than $1300, research experiments, and my possible hire to teach a summer lab course.  No matter if I decide to go to any of these weddings, I will definitely send those couples my best wishes.
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Life is treating me well, and I am making the most out of everything.  I was in contact with some of the guys I met in the past since school would keep me busy and prevent me to hanging out with them.  Many of them kept telling me that I am attractive and sexy and smart and motivated and yada-yada-yah, and ’tis great to know that there are folks out there who admire you.  There are times when I think that I am just not like the twinks and muscular guys on the dance floors, the gyms, and in movies, but I figured that I do not need to be like them!  Well, I am still aiming to become more muscular, but hopefully I will not turn into a brainless jock.  Who knows?  Maybe I will go on more dates, meet more folks, and have a midsummer night dream…although I will be preparing for my qualifying exam, teaching although not official yet, singing, and relaxing too.  A guy I met last summer, who is a graduate student from the University of Texas-Austin, will be back here this summer to do his research, so hopefully I’ll catch up with him.
When walking around the first outdoor farmer’s market of the year today, I saw so many people breaking away from the faster pace in life and simply chillaxing with family and friends. Everyone was smiling with the nice sun and cheese curds on one hand, with me taking photos after purchasing some lean bacon and other produce…The image made me smile too, for the winters here were quite dead in contrast.  With this entry, I pray that I will continue making progress in my own life while bringing joys, laughter, and love into other people’s lives…even during the harshest winters or summers with heat strokes!

Nope, ’tis not a wedding anniversary since I am still single, nor is it the anniversary of this blog (which I would never celebrate anyway)…but ’tis an anniversary of spiritual rebirth.  Some people would call it a one-year-old birthday celebration…but for me, ’twas a great time to reflect the growth I had in a year.

This year’s Holy Week coincided with spring break.  Unfortunately, spring break did not seem to exist for a graduate student in the biosciences.  Many guys I know were in town working on research or preparing for teaching, including my befriended animal staff Patty.  When I attended Dr. Irv Weissman’s seminar session last Tuesday, I was amazed to see the entire forum filled with graduate students and faculty, including one of my committee members whom I know quite well and one good friend of mine who is aiming to finish his studies in the summer.  Of course, Dr. Weissman is famous for his works in hematopoietic stem cells and his seminar would attract many, but the gyms and campus was a lot emptier during break without much undergrads around.

Since the last time I updated, I made quite a few progress in life: getting certified as a doctoral student after meeting with my committee members and obtaining their John Hancocks after answering questions with my best ability and hearing their suggestions (with two I took that were helpful), officially announcing the date of my Qualifying Exam in August 2012, getting approval from a professor in Japan to use his knockout mice, getting some results to analyze, and continuing with my work,…I also got to spend quality time with myself and others.

My “spring break” or Holy Week kicked off with four hours of volleyball followed by four hours of hanging out in front of a bonfire with food and conversations.  Other than that, I also got to catch up with friends through coffee or Korean food or Indian food buffet (instead of the typical Easter brunch) for two hours each, those from Bible study at the Terrace with beer and popcorn on Tuesday evening for two hours, meeting up Saturday morning for an hour and a half with Michael (who is getting married in June),…and the list goes on.  I enjoyed spending time with great friends and good people, and ’tis a blessing to have them in life.  Other than human interactions, I also enjoyed spring break with bike rides, six-mile runs, walks around town, almond croissants, and some of the littlest things in life.  ‘Twas funny to see that week went by quickly too.

This Easter also marked my first year of officially entering into the Catholic church.  ‘Tis true that there are some areas of the faith that I would debate on, but most of the topics were deeply absorbed by me since when I was young.  In college, I lost touch with church and Masses, and I was brought back to faith when I was in New York over a year ago.  I was a tourist at St. Patrick’s Cathedral taking photos, and suddenly a voice in me encouraged me to stay for the 1PM Mass.  I then sat in the pew and stayed for the entire Mass, noticing that I had missed the beauty of the Mass and homilies during the past four to five years.  When getting back to Madison, ’twas the move-in/move-out weekend, and I got so many blessings and free furniture and dishes from friends as I moved from a three-bedroom into a one-bedroom.  I decided to go to Mass that weekend to give thanks, and I met some great friends by then.  I became more involved in choir, eventually participated in an all-male graduate student/young professional Bible study, and volunteered in events if I could.  I was not hardcore though, for I did not attend Mass everyday or befriend the priests and many in church, but my whole being changed with this encounter or call-back.  After being baptised and confirmed last year, I felt that I became more tranquil with no short temper or impatience.  I treated things optimistically while planning for the worst so that I would not be surprised, and I would not lost hope if the worst happened (which occurred with one of the collaborators earlier last June to November/December) but continue to plan ahead and move forward.  I guess I became a happier person while searching and observing the simplest joys in life without materialism, sexual desires/lusts, and more.  Yeah, many of my friends and even parents would consider me living as a Catholic monk since I do not live in bars or that I do not bring folks back to hook up with, but I prefer to live simply without having too much drama and sexually transmitted infections.

Although many would say that science (since I am in the field of microbiology and immunology) and religion do not mix, I would consider them wrong in conversations.  Most people I talked to would be extremists, relying on one or the other.  Most greatness comes from people who have a balance of the two.  Without science, we would not be able to cure diseases with antimicrobials and knowledge of first aid through physiology.  Without faith, we would not be able to realize our wrongdoings and to maintain some moral codes.  Of course both are dangerous when politics is involved, but the roots of science and religion is to contribute to society in a good way.  When people analyze the Bible, they would interpret it in their own ways too and even condemn people to hell.  How would they know if that was really God’s intentions?  Did people also take the historical context into perspective?

As I sang during the Easter Vigil and Sunday Mass, many friends and acquaintances would wish me a Happy Birthday or Happy One Year Anniversary with smiles on their faces.  When I saw people willingly to be baptised and confirmed, my heart was filled with joy.  Even the music sang soothed my mind and soul, and I was reminded on the greatness I experienced for a year.  Although I was tired at the end of the Vigil and going into the Sunday Mass with sleep deficiency, I felt as if I was welcomed back into the church again by renewing the vows.  Perhaps the joys from Easter came indirectly from Lent.  ‘Twas a sad period for my family due to some matter, but when telling friends that I gave up alcohol for Lent, my social life did not change at all.  I felt healthier without drinking, and I enjoyed my friends’ company a lot more.  Perhaps drinking would make someone depressed, even with friends…but I still would not mind getting beer with friends once in a while 🙂  Interestingly, tons of beer were provided after the Easter Vigil during the celebration, but I decided to go home to bed instead to prevent myself from passing out after drinking…

The Easter celebration also reminded me to continue working to get my PhD as soon as possible.  With aims to attend a conference next year, I am hoping to do well on my Qualifying Exam and to get some results in order to submit an abstract or a paper.  I also hope to continue excelling in teaching and hopefully be nominated for a teaching award.  Another goal for now would be to continue running and eventually sign up for a 10K run while getting more muscles and being fitter.  I do try to keep myself busy, but I am also open to meeting new people.  I went on a date on the Monday after Palm Sunday for four hours, and ’twas fun to meet new folks.  However, I have to constantly remind myself that I am not that desperate to hop into someone’s pants and that at least I have God in life!

This year brought many rewards and harvests, and I could only pray and ask that I will be similar in the future.  So many individuals brought love into my life, and I also hope that I can pay those forward with my abilities.  School will be starting tomorrow, meaning that I will be back teaching and such, but the summer will be here within four to five weeks!  Hopefully things will continue to go smoothly without violent winds and thunderstorms…but if catastrophe happens, I look forward to seeing the rainbow in the near future!

Thanks to LMFAO, I have been feeling sexy these days for many reasons.  Not because I’m high on testosterone and that I am horny, but because many wonderful things have happened since the last time I wrote.

My cousin Mel, the Texan native, visited last weekend and we hung out for a bit.  The visit was on a short notice, so we did not have anything planned.  My brother and I were excited though, since we have been telling her to come visit Madison.  She came with three friends (one is working here in a software company and engaged to his gay fiance who visited as well, and the other is a lady who is interested in psychology and sociology).  Although their flight was postponed and the arrival time changed from 11AM to around 11PM last Friday, we still managed to meet on Saturday.

The gang arrived at 6PM, and everyone chillaxed a bit at my place while my brother poured some of the New Glarus Wisconsin Belgium Red for the guests.  Similar to Ben’s Wisconsin friends whom I met in Chicago over New Year’s Eve, the UT-Austiners loved the drink.  We chatted a bit more and then headed out to dinner at 7PM.  Unfortunately with no reservations, we could rarely find a spot for six without a more than forty-five minute wait.  We walked along Capitol Square and State Street, and then my brother and I decided to take them to The Nitty Gritty.  My brother left when we got to the establishment since he needed to go to an 8PM discussion, so the five of us dined there.

Dinner was nice with conversations, and I was surprised by the two gay couple who are engaged.  They were not too handsome or hot, one of them has some gastrointestinal related illnesses and some other diseases, they were nice folks, and yet they look so wonderful next to each other.  I really do admire the both of them since that is true love right there.  They did not love each other due to lust or bed-related actions, but they looked beyond each other’s imperfections and linked their hearts together.  The strong support they provided for each other fascinated me, and I just hope that I will be able to find the special one too.

After dinner at around 8:50PM, Mel’s three friends decided to go back to their place since one of them needed to finish writing a paper.  I was going to send my brother a burger I bought for him, and Mel decided to come along and stick around!  We met up with my brother at 9PM when he was on his way home.  He was going to have a short night and head to bed soon since he was under stress with exams and studying, so Mel was left with me.  I took Mel for a walk, which she enjoyed with the fresh air although ’twas a bit chilly.  We walked around Memorial Union, then hiked up Bascom Hill, then onto Observatory along the lake, then to Tripp and Adams (where I resided during my sophomore year and first year of house fellowship), and then we took a break by the lakeshore area for some ice cream since Mel had not have ice cream from the Dairy State.

We shared a sundae with chocolate peanut butter ice cream, Heath, pecans, and Reeses…and sat on a booth and started catching up with life.  We did talk a lot about academia, her plans after graduating in May, law school, her trip to Italy, dating, and many more.  ‘Twas a great break with many exchanges of thoughts.  At first, I was worried that our four to five year age difference will not have too much in common since Mel was a bit more talkative to my brother earlier during the evening, but I was wrong.  Even my aunt told my parents (who told me later) that Mel has always respected me as a big brother and valued my conversations with her since when she was in high school.  She is hoping to work in Chicago through a law firm after completing an internship through the firm, and I will be glad to take her around Chicago with my brother!

After the break, we walked along Linden, passed by Henry Mall, and went into Union South.  Later, we walked along Johnson and Park Street, and then went into Library Mall and started walking along State Street.  ‘Twas the weekend of WIAA High School Wrestling, and there were many topless youngsters running past by us as celebration after the tournament.  Mel and I even laughed when one of the youngsters slapped my ass so hard that we both heard it.  If I were in an office, that could be sexual harassment, but ’twas fun for the both of us to see youngsters bearing the cold and cheering for their accomplishments.

Mel’s friend called at around midnight indicating that he would be going to bed soon and would like to pick her up since she was staying at his apartment with the others.  We then walked from the Capitol to my place, and she was off at 0:35.  She said bye before she boarded her plane on Sunday, and she enjoyed her visit too.

This visit also affirms my view that family members are the greatest and closest support for one another.  During the period of mourning for my grandma, whose funeral took place on Monday in Taipei, the visit reunited all the youngsters from my mother’s side who are in the United States.  Each visit, similar to the one in Chicago with Ben and those meals and walks with friends, are ways to renew relationships of any sort.  Even a small sundae with great ice cream and Heath toppings could make one smile for a day too… ‘Twas a great visit, and I could not believe that I had not seen her for five years, with the last time being before I went to Germany!!! I do hope that my brother and I will be able to visit her in Austin soon before she leaves that campus.

On a different note, I heard back from my advisor regarding my research proposal two days ago.  I am glad to finally see progress since he had the document for more than a month.  He made some great changes, and I am glad to learn from them and see his thoughts and intentions.  I am hoping to have that done soon so that I can meet with committee members to get their approval and take my qualifying exam soon!!!

Teaching has been going well too.  Students are learning about arthropods this week, and many of them were squeamish and excited.  Some of them were similar to Dora the Explorer (English and Zoology Edition) when observing hexapods, crustaceans, chelicerates, and myriopods with curiosity.  Some of them even dissected the destroyed the entire crayfish, which would need to be used by the next class too 🙂  Anyway, my students (especially the Monday and Tuesday ones) have been doing great this semester, and I hope that they will continue to be this motivated!

After working yesterday, I decided to take a walk in the afternoon and even call the afternoon off.  I left the lab at 2PM, and then bumped into Megan!  She was a former co-TA and a friend, and I was surprised when she walked by me and yelled out my name since she usually has a soft voice!  She was on her way to the library, so we walked together for a bit and caught up with one another.  ‘Twas great to hear that she missed teaching and that she is planning to come back too.  After she left, I continued walking, and eventually revisited Bakers’ Window.  I got to chat with the couple who baked the goodies since the wife started talking to me about organic milk in glass bottles and their use of organic materials.  The husband chatted more with me when the wife went to deal with the delivery man, and I discovered that they went to Munich together before.  They also learned to bake in Paris and also in San Francisco, and they are aiming to open a bakery under their names in the future without another owner or landlord.

My first visit to Bakers’ Window was last Saturday, and I had a great impression of the pain au chocolat.  There were more selections this time, since I went there during their normal hours when compared to thirty minutes before opening.  I got some pain au chocolat for my brother and Michael the co-TA, a Danish for myself, and carrot almond cake.  I am a big almond lover, and I loooooooove carrot cakes as well.  The mix of both made it an expensive dessert to make, and the cake made by the couple who baked all the goodies looked marvelous.  I tried some, of course…and ’twas surprisingly dense that I could only eat one-fourth to a third of a slice each time to feel fulfilled.  The cream cheese frosting and the cake overall was not too oily and sweet as the carrot cake made in other places, and the almond was a great compliment.  In many places, even those in the Farmer’s Market, the pastries and cakes would be swamped with frosting or sugar, but the baked goods from Bakers’ Window have always been simple.  ‘Twas not too plain, but the sweetness tasted came from the ingredients inside the pastry instead of a huge sugar-coating.  The cake was delicious and was worth it.  I am a food lover who would bike or drive for miles just to taste some dishes, and I can now say that Bakers’ Window is the best bakery I have experienced in Madison.

After being indulging on pastries for a while, I finally decided to visit the gym in case if I become a fat jolly Buddha.  I still go to the gym to play volleyball, such as my four-hour session last Saturday.  However, I have not been great at going to the gym on weekdays due to things to do, meetings to attend, and bad weather.  I finally made it to the gym at 7:30PM, started stretching, rowed 5000m, ran and hiked on the treadmill without phobia nowadays, and finished with sit-ups and stretches with an exercise ball.  I then saw Danielle, a grad student I know from a course I took last semester, and we started catching up with one another.  ‘Twas great to see a familiar face in the gym who is striving to live healthily too 🙂  So other than the awesome feeling of perspiration and meeting a familiar face during the work-out session, I felt wonderful after coming out from the shower.  I felt so relieved and clean, and I smelled great! 😉  I even flexed myself in front of the mirror, and boy were my arms getting larger and larger compared to the scrawny and flappy ones I had when I was bigger.

So yes, I’m sexy and I know it…I work out!!!!  Life and God have been good to me, and I just hope that I can continue visiting the gym and started going five to six days again like my usual routine.  I am doing well with my Lenten sacrifice: giving up alcohol.  I wonder if I can survive to forfeit having baked goods or sweets, but we can find that out in another Lenten period.  I hope that I can continue to make more progress with research, teaching, and in social life…and become more muscular soon, especially if I will need to put on swim wear and show my body if I go to Hawaii one day!

February started a bit on the sour note for me.  I became occupied with research and teaching, especially on grading weekly quizzes…but I still go to the gym and play volleyball.  The broomball season was actually short since this winter has been warmer than usual, and water has been seeping through ice on the lakes. 

On the evening of 13 Feb (which is the morning of Valentine’s Day in Taipei), I received news that my dear grandma (from my mother’s side) passed away that morning in Taiwan.  This brought a new meaning to the fourteenth day of February for me, and I was feeling awful for weeks since then.  Even my faculty advisor and the coordinator of the course I teach noticed that I was not myself at all.  I only shared this news with close friends and co-workers around then, and I have been in close contact with my parents and brother as well.  ‘Twas interesting since my grandma has been an amazing lady in my life who taught me many things ranging from portraying beauty to the world, showing care to others around you, and staying strong and being happy during the worst of times…She was unconscious and in pain, and she reunited with the grandpa I never saw since birth on a special day.  I became more and more open-minded after a few days instead of burrowing myself constantly in grief since she did live to the old age of ninety-one.  Although I could not attend the funeral in Taipei, I made a recording of myself singing Schubert’s Ave Maria with my cheap digital camera and sent it home.  It will be played during the funeral on Monday, 27 Feb.  My grandma would always applaud and cheer when I sing to her, and I remember that tears streamed across her cheeks when I sang to her last May when I went back home for the urgent two-week visit.  Although she was a vegetable, she would shake when I held her and even wiggle a bit as if she would want to talk to me.  I just hope that the song sang from my heart will be a good send-off for her since her baptismal name is Maria.  I still carry the photo of her and me and would glance at it each day, and I will definitely not forget her.

The Taiwanese custom is that relatives of the deceased will have to abstain from parties, visits to people’s houses, celebrations, and other large-scale joyful/social events.  Interestingly, this period coincides with Lent for me.  Before the incidence, I made plans to grab drinks with co-TAs and friends, to meet and socialize with prospective students of my program through drinks and potlucks, and more…it felt awkward to cancel all those plans, which included telling some curious folks the reason of my absence.  However, most of them were understanding.  Some, such as my professor, the coordinator of the course I teach, and the coordinator of my program, shared their grief and would share their experiences with me too.  Due to limitations in parties and such, this is why I am giving up alcohol for Lent.  It can be healthier for me, and that opens more opportunities for me to go to the gym, walk or bike around town, and keep myself active.  This period also made me closer to my family too, and I am grateful for that.

Throughout this period, I still interact with great friends.  I bumped into Jordan a few days ago, and I remember him as a scrawny kid two years ago when we took a course together.  He is still tall, but perhaps more muscular and mature, and I was surprised that he is still in Madison.  He declined an offer to go to medical school and found passion in teaching and parasitology.  Therefore, he is tutoring students through the Department of Zoology and is working in a company while applying for public health programs in different universities.  I also bumped into many former students, such as Alex the ATP guy, Logan (whom I wrote a letter of recommendation), Stephan (who just got engaged), and Jenn (a great mom and soldier).

Michael, one of my co-TAs, has been amazing since January.  He started as a newbie for teaching who avoided any courses and opportunities for public speaking in the past…He did not do that well during his first week and eventually broke down in tears, but he became a different person the following week and has been doing a brilliant job in standing and delivering.  He became more confident, although he would still say that he is nervous and that the students are plain stupid (he took this course a loooong time ago and got an A without trying too hard, and there are tons of students who have been getting poor scores and cannot organize thoughts or reason through things)…but he is a great guy to talk to one-on-one.  He is funny and great to talk to, and he became a great friend.  I guess that we have been encouraging one another in little ways.  On Mardi Gras, I bought students donuts from Greenbush Bakery and saved one for him since he mentioned that Mardi Gras was his most favorite holiday with hurricanes and parties and that I knew that he would be stopping by the building when I was teaching.  After teaching, I noticed that he was selling like hotcake with five students surrounding him in the TA office, so I dropped off the donut and left.  Who knew that he would run after me and graced me with a red and a blueish green strains of beads?  He is such a funny guy…and he even brought me a huge Snicker’s bar after meeting his wife for dinner prior to proctoring an exam on Thursday.  Speaking of his wife, Michael would describe Brooke in a manner that made me vision her as the one with the whip during S&M play, but I actually meet her on Monday evening, and she was a cute and lovely lady!

At the same time, I still go to Bible study with the same gang and would text and meet-up with my friend Chuck.  I also would text and chat with Matt through gchat, and we went for a walk together after I was done proctoring on Thursday.  We walked around the neighborhood for forty-five minutes to an hour, appreciating the snow and each other’s company.  He has accepted a postdoc position in Detroit since he did not get offered the faculty position at Gonzaga, and I am glad that at least life is not too uncertain for him now.  it turns out that he went to Mass on Ash Wednesday and is giving up alcohol for Lent too!  I gave him a can of beer earlier, and he told me that ’twas still sitting in his fridge due to Lent.  Throughout the walk, he told me about a new bakery in town, and I decided to check it out today.

I walked along State Street and passed by the bakery yesterday, just to notice that ’twas closed although the label and facebook indicated that it should be closed after two hours.  I left, hoping it visit it the next day, and so I dragged myself out of bed to be an early bird who gets baked goods straight out from the oven from Bakers’ Window.  I remembered the label indicating that the bakery would be opened at 8AM…I arrived at 8:30AM, and folks were still setting up things.  Who knew that they actually open at 9?  However, I was offered to enter and purchase goods.  Matt told me about the croissants, and so I purchased some pain au chocolat (with regular croissant being the other option since there were not many other items out from the oven) and was given a wedding cookie for free.  Those chocolate croissants were still hot and just out from the oven, but the bread had some buttery goodness that did not make the croissant too flakey and dry.  It was not too soggy either.  The chocolate was in a generous silky serving, and the pain itself was huge!  That was perhaps the best pain au chocolat I ever have in my life.  Before that, I had great memories of the ones by Cafe Soleil before it closed, but the croissants from there were smaller, the chocolate filling was one single strip in the middle (and could be hard on some days), and also more expensive.  Thanks to Matt, I will definitely pay Bakers’ Window a visit in the near future to try the scones, pies, and other baked goods.

Throughout my interactions with friends, I was also wondering if I should get a new cellphone since I have been eligible to upgrade my phone since last December.  I have one of those free cellphones from Verizon with a keyboard.  ‘Tis handy but I could not use internet and such on it.  I remember when I was crossing Los Angeles back into Las Vegas with a friend three Thanksgivings ago, we were lost and the GPS guided us into a desert area without paved roads but one filled with cacti…which scraped off the tires and ended with a tow truck carrying us back to Las Vegas so I could catch my flight back to Madison.  From then, I noticed that having a technological upgrade could be a plus since I would hope to find routes or maps with a cellphone.  Even my friend Max used his iPhone to search for bus routes when we went to Chicago for the Cubs game two years ago, and ’tis a great tool to search for restaurants and such as well.  However, I could not stand typing an email with a cellphone.  Surfing through the web might be okay and texting friends…but typing a well-written email or an entry like this on a cellphone can be unbearable for me.  When I am outside of my apartment, I also do not constantly use my cellphone since I would love to spend time with the fresh air and scenes around me, so I doubt that I will be facebooking when I am walking on the streets or at work.  I still like to have the feeling of a real keyboard instead of a virtual one.  Plus, while interacting with Matt’s smartphone a while ago, my fingers could be too big for the keys.  I also like the idea of having some apps such as angrybird, but I do not think that I will like the idea of having Grindr on my phone since it can be creepy for people to know where I live…However, Chuck is encouraging me to invest in a Droid RAZR (smartphone) since that is indeed a beauty (I love the Gorilla Glass), and Max has been trying to sell me the idea of getting an iPhone since ages ago.  Therefore, this is pretty much my dilemma: should I get a Droid RAZR, and iPhone, or just stick with the simple but yet functional phone I have now?

So in short, I am doing well and life goes on.  No matter what happens in life–good or bad–I will continue to look forward for the next day while cherishing the present.  I am glad that I did not make anything too regretful at this point; I know that I will not be able to forgive myself if I did not fly back to Taipei last May to see my grandma…and I am still surrounded with the simplest joys and love in life.