saying goodbye to the holidays
The first week of the year is a strange time. The holidays are over, but the tedium of the incessant work weeks has not completely taken hold yet. Most of my friends came back for Christmas and left by New Year's, and the stragglers trickle back to their homes this week. By the end of this week they will all be gone again and normal life will resume.
My brother goes back to school this afternoon for his last semester. As usual my mom has prepared a huge spread of all his favorite foods to take back: fluffy 花卷 (steamed flower rolls, or scallion buns), green beans with ground beef, leek with pork belly, cauliflower, bean sprouts with glass noodles and shittake mushrooms, and short ribs slow-boiled with ginger and garlic. My parents spent the entire morning cooking and packing food into salvaged takeout containers, and I'm always amazed that they go through the whole ordeal every few weeks when he returns or they visit, especially since we never ask for it. From the looks of it you'd never guess that he only lives an hour away.
We spent my brother's last night at home playing cards. My parents don't like the board games I've bought — they don't enjoy thinking that hard — so we stick to what we're used to. Our current favorite game is 找朋友, but we mix in Hearts and Bridge when my brother and I get tired of losing. Playing cards (and less frequently, mahjong) is one of the rare activities that will bring the entire family together, and I appreciate it for being the only activity that we all genuinely enjoying doing.
A friend I met up with during break showed me a recording of him playing the piano part for "City of Stars". I was thrilled, since La La Land is one of my favorite movies, but my excitement gave way to confusion as I learned he'd never even seen the movie. I adore the soundtrack to that film, but I can't imagine how I'd feel listening to those same tracks without the movie scenes playing in my mind. Would I still enjoy them without Mia and Sebastian tugging at my heartstrings from my memories?
Films have been a powerful tool for me to get into certain types of music. I'd listened to Queen before, but it wasn't until I watched Bohemian Rhapsody that a switch flipped in my head and Queen took over my Spotify Wrapped. I'm hoping Maestro can catalyze a similar change in me, which I started watching yesterday. It's a 2023 Netflix film starring Bradley Cooper as Leonard Bernstein (trailer) about the great American conductor & composer's life. Sneak peeks of the film show good amounts of Bernstein conducting Mahler, a composer I've always admired but never managed to get properly into. Maybe seeing Bradley Cooper do it in black and white will do the trick for me? I hope so! I want in on that heart-rending, maximalist goodness too.
I've been struggling to write a wordvomit worth reading every single day. I have to take more notes than I'm used to, write when I don't feel like it, and publish things I'm not proud of in order to get something published each day, though I suppose getting in the habit of doing all that is the crux of this exercise. I don't always love it though, that discomfiting feeling in the back of my head reminding me that I have to write something meaningful, but we have to imagine Sisyphus happy, don't we?
Recently I've been listening to Becky G's latest album ESQUINAS. I mostly associate Becky G with cute pop songs and reggaeton hits, but this ranchera-inspired album is ridiculously good. 2NDO CHANCE and POR EL CONTRARIO are my favorites so far. Rip my heart to shreds, Becky.