life, liberty, and the pursuit of rush tickets
It's finally Monday, after a veritable whirlwind of a weekend. Do you ever get that empty feeling after an eventful weekend, when it dawns on you just how lost you are in life and how little you have to look forward to? Because I do.
I spent most of Saturday with my brother and his girlfriend (who I'm henceforth going to refer to as A), who came back from school to celebrate Chinese New Year. This is the fourth or fifth time she's visited, and at this point she feels like a regular fixture of our household. She brings baked goods and gifts, helps out with cooking and cleaning, talks to my parents, and gets along with everyone. My mom openly frets about the cultural and language differences between our Chinese household and my brother's Indian girlfriend (especially her parents, who allegedly are rather cold), but I suspect my mom approves of her, deep down. She'll always lament the way A doesn't eat meat or speak Mandarin, which I understand every time my mom's stiff English falls on my ears, but my dating history (or lack thereof) probably makes her more grateful that my brother has someone at all. (Big brothers looking out for their younger siblings, exhibit 1092830982.)
My grandmother's goddaughter's daughter (or godgranddaughter, maybe? I'm going to call her C) joined us for dinner. I'd never met her before, but after completely failing to to get through to some of my parents' other family friends who came over from China, I had low expectations. I'm happy to report that she fit in well. She moved to the United States when she was in middle school, and while I could still detect a foreign accent in her English, we could communicate without problems. I almost always feel far more than a language or cultural barrier separating me from the Chinese expats I meet here, so this was a pleasant surprise, and I admired how well she'd adapted to what must have been a difficult acculturization.
Because my brother's girlfriend is vegetarian, my mom cooked a dinner entirely free of meat (and dairy). We ate dumplings (filled with chive, egg, and glass noodle), mapo tofu, steamed eggplant, Chinese broccoli (gai lan), (barely) spicy lotus root salad, and mushrooms stuffed with walnuts, onions, and who knows what else. The food was okay. (Shh, don't tell!) Since I'm on a low-sodium diet and my brother can't handle his spice, the flavors were rather understated. And I'm sorry, but even as someone who consumes little meat, those vegetarian dumplings were not worth eating. They are not good without pork.
We spent the rest of the night playing Codenames and, per my mother's request, attempting to play our current favorite card game, 找朋友, literally "looking for friends". I usually enjoy playing but did not find trying to explain such a complex game to two newcomers a worthwhile pleasant experience. My mom tried (unsuccessfully) to show C how to play while my brother got heated at his girlfriend for revoking1, and after a few rounds riddled with errors we finally gave up and called it a day.
Sundays are for teaching. I had my fifth lesson with my tenth grader, and we've found a good groove. She's started to work on some submissions for competitions, so each week I read what she's come up with and try to steer her towards something better. Doing so is easier said than done, because she usually does the homework an hour before class, so I rarely have more than half an hour to revise and tailor my lesson to incorporate a specific aspect she can improve in.
I also had my first lesson with the three second graders, of which (for whatever reason) only one actually showed up. The girl who did was adorable and bright, and I wouldn't have minded giving her a private lesson if I had prepared enough material for one. I tried my best to expand my meager slides and activity to fill up the entire hour, but it was simply not enough. The last twenty minutes were just me grasping at straws to entertain a second grader who told me she enjoyed reading Shakespeare2. I still haven't heard from the parents of the other two kids, but I hope we get that sorted out soon.
After teaching on Sunday I went to go watch Hamilton downtown to celebrate my friend M's birthday. We got lucky with student rush tickets (perhaps due to the Super Bowl happening at the same time?) that landed us in center orchestra, not quite front and center but only a few rows back from that.
I went in completely blind. I felt like the only clueless one there, because everyone around me seemed to know the exact right moments to clap (and not). Some even got up for the intermission before the last downbeat of the first part had dissipated. I struggled to follow along with the breakneck pace of the first few songs, but after seeing the same actors again and again I got the hang of it. (And with the running time almost exceeding three hours, there was plenty for me to enjoy.)
It wasn't hard for me to see why Hamilton had become such a smash hit. I thoroughly enjoyed the mini history lesson unfold in song and the actors never failed to give me chills when they hit their high notes. That being said, I can't see myself becoming a huge fan. I don't know, it was a great show but I wasn't hooked, and I don't think I like history enough to care to listen to all those songs over again. (Who knows, maybe next week I'll come back and know all the words to every song.)
Late night bibimbap post-show at this 24 hour Korean restaurant was the perfect way to end the weekend, even if I felt a little depressed realizing that I hadn't broken even despite tutoring for two hours. I don't have too much planned for Singles Awareness Week coming up, but that's probably a good thing considering how tired I am after all that. Back to hibernation I go.
Revoke: (in bridge, whist, and other card games) to fail to follow suit despite being able to do so↩
Which she later amended to "Shakespeare for kids", thank Frith. What are parents feeding their kids these days?!↩