NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. - One of the misconceptions my mother has always held about me is that I'm this socially awkward, unpleasant kid who doesn't know how to effectively deal with people. (It's probably not her fault she thinks so, either; our history together has gotten me rather bitter around her a lot of the time. I'll explain in a later post, probably.) I think the thing about me is: when it comes to people I know, for some reason I kinda prefer to see even friends occasionally as opposed to, say, talking to them every single day. I guess I like the feeling of seeing friends after we haven't seen each other for a while, as opposed to seeing them and hearing from them so frequently that sometimes it gets just a little annoying.
So it was a good feeling to run into some old friends today that I had met last year when I took Elementary Japanese. It was weird, actually: I was on a Rutgers bus today going to meet a former Elementary Japanese classmate, and then I end up going to a Japanese restaurant on Easton Ave. (Edo, for those who are interested in the details) with a group of other former Elementary Japanese classmates after meeting two of them on the bus. Funny how social plans can sometimes change on a whim. (I asked the girl I was initially going to meet if she wanted to come along, but she told me she was waiting for others at her apartment at University Center.) The point, I suppose, is: I like the feeling of people greeting me warmly as a result of not having seen me for a while. Sometimes---I guess depending on the person too---it's warmer than just another autopilot "hi" toward a person you see regularly. I dunno, maybe it's just me being deliberately socially awkward.
I should also let newbies in on another thing, since we're on the subject of Japanese classmates and Japanese restaurants: although I have a Japanese name, 1) I am technically half-Japanese (Dad) and half-Taiwanese (Mom), and 2) I'm pretty Americanized myself. Born in Queens, New York, I've never really gotten much formal training in learning to speak Japanese. I went to a Chinese school for a few years, so that's probably why I'm able to understand Mandarin Chinese better. But Japanese? Maybe a greeting or two, maybe the numbers---that's it. (No, my Dad never really made a serious effort to try to teach us.) I may know more after having taken a year of elementary Japanese, but fluent I am certainly not. That fact doesn't really get me down as much as it used to---most people seem to enjoy being in my company whether or not I'm, uh, strongly ethnic or not---but it's sometimes a little frustrating when people seem to have assumptions about me based on the fact that I have a Japanese name and, I guess, look Japanese. (Sometimes the feeling I get when I admit this to people verges on embarrassment.)
Still, I try to compensate, in a way, by connecting with Japanese cinema (Akira Kurosawa's Ikiru is quite possibly the most deeply moving film I've ever seen) and also eating Japanese food (sushi, mmmmmmmm) when the opportunity presents itself, as it did today. Maybe that's only a superficial way of getting closer to Japanese culture, but...well, it's something, I'd say.
Basically, today was a day of relaxation: I turned in my Philosophy paper yesterday and took my last final yesterday morning, so today was basically doing some last-minute packing and chilling here at my Rockoff apartment. Tomorrow I'll most likely be cleaning up the apartment enough so that it looks like it's in like-new condition for whoever ends up living in Apt. No. 617 during the summer (if anyone). Once I'm settled back at home in East Brunswick, then I'll probably spring a semester retrospective post on all your asses (or eyes). Stay tuned...
P.S. I'm calling this post "Stream of Consciousness No. 1" because basically the approach I took to writing this one was just to freewrite based on what happened on a rather humdrum day. Makes my day seem more interesting than it really was, heh. Also, I suspect that there might be other posts like this in the future; so, to avoid having to struggle to come up with a title, I'll just call this a "stream of consciousness" post.