Lion’s Head, Snake’s Tail

There is an old 成语, or chinese idiom that my parents always say to me: 虎头蛇尾, or translated literally, lion’s head, snake’s tail. It honestly is a back-of-the-hand insult, meaning that you start too many things but never tend to finish them.

Honestly, it describes me quite well. I always have this huge amount of enthusiasm when I begin a project, and for a couple of days, seem to live off the adrenaline rush that accompanies it. I start reading up, getting signed up for everything, and just so heavily involved in every little aspect of it.

Yet, wherever I go, I leave behind a trail of projects that have fallen by the wayside, forgotten or covered up in utter shame. There is so much that I do that just ends up in nothingness.

When I translated this idiom in google translate, it actually gave me the term “anticlimax”, which I suppose makes quite a bit of sense. You tend to build and build and build, but suddenly you hit a brick wall and *poof*, all of your work has gone away.

My attitude tends to make me a person who is a “jack of all trades, master of none”, as I have pointed out several times earlier. I like to dabble, to get involved in the amateur stuff, but my weakness is in persisting through with an idea; to see it to its end. I might blame my short attention span; I might attribute it to low willpower. But whatever it is, it is one of my major flaws.

In fact, procrastination really tends to stem from this. If there is something that I am supremely interested in, I couldn’t afford to procrastinate! It is that I just slowly lose interest and the project falls, dead to my mind.

There are ties to education as well; why I love reading popular science articles yet find it difficult to really sit down and learn. I want to be stimulated, but I’m afraid of putting in the energy.

Like all habits, this is something that I need to slowly work on, day after day. It might just mean doing something that I don’t like very much, just to get into the habit of working. Maybe it means forcing myself to love and to learn even when it feels like that dark cloud of gloom is upon me again. Whatever it is, it is something that I need to change.

Farewell

swinging on the tip of the plane
as it cuts through the dark night.
gazing upwards to twinkling stars
but downwards to my heart.

departing from the land I loved,
from the place where time was still,
still moving even through golden days
and silver nights, resting on memories passed.

memories of the days of old
where not I, but others were the ones to go.
bidding adeus and farewells, but not long
’till teardrops fell like heavy welts upon the earth.

day after day turning into year after year
and yet never getting over the heartbreak
of leaving behind those familiar faces
and passing by, as ships in the distance.

but each bittersweet departure between friends
only opens up more to be explored,
only makes this dark planet a bit brighter,
only makes me closer to this small world of ours

and as the chilly air cuts through my mind
my thoughts turn crystal as the green light beckons me on
onwards to a new future and a bright beginning
chasing the horizon to the edges of the earth

but the compass for a fantastic future
will always be cemented in the lives of our past
And no matter how the dreams of our future change
we find solace in the friends we have made, in the gentle embraces, in the sweet farewells of the past.

To Be an Activist

You don’t get up one morning and just think, man, how great it would be to protest for something!

You don’t just think, oh I would love to give all this that I have in order to pursue a thankless cause.

You don’t consider in the middle of the night, wouldn’t it just be great if I became hated by those around me in order to do what I believe is right.

Becoming an activist is tough.

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Teaching

There is much going on in the field of education, most of which I do not understand. However, one thing that can be quite distinct is the way teachers teach.

Even if we would claim that our system is broken, that the natural causes of learning and becoming interested in the world around us is broken, it is still arguable that there are teachers around us who try to change that. There are still those golden people whom every student wishes to get, who are able to turn learning fun, and make facts stick.

But what happens if even the most devoted of teachers get it wrong?

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Alive

Walking home, in the midst of a receding thunderstorm and gloomy skies, I have never felt more alive.

Physics B was Monday, one of the many tests this year. Seattle weather just perfectly complimented it, with booming thunder reminding us of physics mighty power upon the world. Walking out of the three hour examination room was quite a joy, with the world still wet from the unexpected thunderstorm.

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Tea Stained Lives

The first cup of tea is always the hardest.

After setting up the shining kettle and pulling out those small, dry-frozen packets of tea from the freezer, the wait for the boiling pot can only be subsidized through minor distractions of other foods. A watched pot boils alright, albeit slower in my mind’s eye than usual. Listening to the bubbling that is liquid water turning to gaseous water at the very bottom of the kettle, and erupting forwards out through the spout in a hand-burning, high energy containing steam, the process fascinates me even through the wait.

After the water is finally ready, pouring the hot water into the teapot slowly is rather important. You don’t want another boba incident, where my mom spilled half a pot worth of boiling water onto my hand, or that incident where you weren’t paying attention to where you were pouring and nearly end up drowning your precious, precious APUSH notes. No, there is impatience, but it must last through this.

Even after the tea is steeping, you still have to wait more. Drinking it directly is essentially the same as drinking down a big gulp of boiling water artificially colored by a false agent. There’s no point in getting a cup of this putrid liquid; you have to wait for those wonderful deoxidants to be released from those dried leaves.

Still, after all of this, the first cup is still hard to take down. Even as I settle into the routine of life, that cup is still bland and tasteless, and serves more to warm my body than my soul. Not warm, no, but scald my very heart and guts with a kind of fury, embracing a hunger for more.

It’s after this that you slowly fall into a pattern of pouring one drink after another into that nicely decorated Starbucks holiday mug that you TOTALLY jacked from your parents. It’s in that unconcious pour of a cup after yet another that starts creates stains.

My wonderful light-blue mug, decorated lightly with fat white snowflakes and an oversized handle, has gotten a paint job on the inside. Each cup of late night tea, of APUSH focusing tea, of bored and hungry tea, leaves another gentle coat onto the cup.

Eventually, as the evening fades into the twilight, transitioning into the blackness of night, the ritual slows to a stop. No more does the kettle buzz, and no more does the bubble of tea excite anymore. It’s only a matter of finishing whatever is left in that pile of homework; nothing else matters.

And in that narrow minded focus, the tea slowly cools.

Perhaps you could model the cooling rate with a differential function, and integrate to find the temperature after 90 minutes of neglect. Perhaps you could write a chemical reaction for the deposition of the chemicals upon the sides of the cup. Perhaps you could track the specific heat of the water, and what kind of conduction or induction allows the transfer of heat away.
Maybe you could write an analogy for how the tea’s cooling has represented your own mental slowing, as the night drags on. Maybe you would see an analogy in this tea for revolutionary times of virtual representation, of free-trade agreements and of imperialism for resources. Maybe you would look at the Chinese culture behind the imported green tea, or maybe you would ponder what it is about the tea that seems to be so romanticized to you.

But in the end it doesn’t matter. What does is that this tea has stained into your life, your soul, your very being. Cycle after cycle, time after time again, your return to tea has been a return to familiarity, a call back to a home that isn’t a physical place, but a certain state of mind.

And you know that in this state of mind, the tea slowly changes you. In whatever kind of subtle layering, the tea washes over you and rinses anew your soul. Slowly, cup by cup, you see the world through a new lens, and the world sees you differently.

Inspired by Alice.

Listening to Hawthorne Tree Forever (山楂树之恋)

Streetlight

There’s a new streetlight in front of my house. It really isn’t hard to miss. I mean, they replaced those old sodium-burning lights for the harsh glow of the white LED’s.

It used to be that they would have to send energy into this little container of sodium, vaporizing the poor little container (hooray for anthropomorphizing atoms!) and turning it into a gaseous state. From there, the sodium was shot full of energy until those valence electrons began to jump, one by one, up the orbitals. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stay up there very long, and it crashes back to its original state in a fit of glory, releasing just one itty bitty photon along the way.

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