The Most Important Little Things

Happy May Day!  This post takes its name from a segment at the first workshop three weeks ago.  It was a space to talk about microagressions and also “microvalidations” which is now a word thanks to Sam (shoutout).  Basically minor things that either really aggravated people or really made them feel good.  I really liked the concept, and thought it made a good theme for the post as well.  Fortunately, it’s mostly small successes/accomplishments I’d like to talk about today rather than microaggressions.  Mostly to keep myself centered after a spot of homesickness and catch y’all up with some things.

Most in keeping with the title is something that happened last Sunday.  I had decided to get a massage for the first time in a while as I had been feeling pretty sore.  Called in the morning to set it up, and when I get to the place in the evening the massuer looks at me kind of funny.  He asks, “Are you the one that called this morning?” I reply, “Yes, an hour massage, yeah?”  “Okay,” he says.  As I’m changing my shoes and he goes into the other room I hear him say to his wife, “Wow, I couldn’t tell on the phone that he was a foreigner.”  I get told that as a complement sometimes, rarely is it said for someone’s benefit other than mine, and that makes it beautifully genuine.  Just gave me a great fuzzy feeling, y’know?

Why was I so sore?  Because I swam 3,400 meters for the first time ever!  New personal best, and I’m going to kick all my Friday swims up to around that level now I think.

And of course, what’s a workout without food after?  Not on the same day, but I made biscuits using my rice cooker as a mixing bowl.  Worked great!  And they were tasty!

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I’ve got a couple on the academic side of things too, and part of the reason I wanted to write this post was to reassure myself that I’m still doing good work.

With research going slowly, but surely, it’s easy to lose track of things as I see my peers with actual projects getting ready to collect their data or whatnot, while I’m just sitting here reading.  Feels like I’m wasting time/not working hard enough sometimes.  I am making progress though, and as of Thursday I’m caught up on the department’s journal through the last year and a half.  That just means I have these lovely yearly reports to begin on though haha.  Reports on the left, that’s only half of them.  And where there’s reading, there’s writing.  And I filled a journal!  Took about 15 months, and it was honestly one of the best presents I got for Christmas in 2015, thanks so much mom, can’t wait to start the new one.

My current plan is to just read and develop a knowledge base before starting writing a preliminary piece some time in May.  The hard part is making the call of when is enough reading enough (answer: never, but you still have to stop some time).  It’s that oppressive feeling that there’s always more to know and you’ll always be wrong somewhere and you’re not reading fast enough.  But y’know, fuck it.  I’m coming along, if I’m wrong I’m wrong.  So yeah, another little important victory is that reading is progressing.

Shoutout to my other mother Cheryl who just finished her manuscript after 18 months of work!  That’s amazing!  So impressed and so proud.

Speaking of reading, I also got called on in class to read and translate a section of our Russian text, and thankfully due to my preparation this time around, I was able to give a decent performance.  An aside about my favorite class, I have to say it’s modern Russian diplomacy.  Why?  It’s a three student class counting me, and the prof actually allows for a lot of discussion, so not only do I get more Chinese perspective on a lot of issues, but I actually get to voice my opinion.  Not to say that my other classes are big, all less than 20 people, but they’re more lecture focused, mostly because my classmates are first year grad students and they’re still a bit reluctant to speak overly much I guess.  People always talk about getting out of your bubbles, and this is a fantastic way to do that for me.  I’m not as defensive of American foreign policy as my classmates seem to expect (they always get really nervous criticizing America in front of me, and then when I wholeheartedly agree with them they’re kind of surprised hahaha).

Next little success, I’m confirmed to speak at the Shenyang consulate next month!  Just a simple talk for the series that they have every Thursday, but I’m excited nonetheless.  And nervous of course.

Not on theme, but Wednesday I went to a show at the Harbin Opera House which is a really interesting venue.  The show was a French modern dance troupe who were a treat.  Sometimes really amazing, other times a bit hard to take in.  Overall a cool experience though, and I got to get inside the venue finally to take some great pictures.  It’s a beautiful space, with a unique design and a lovely wood interior.  In lieu of describing it more on my own I’ll link this great writeup.  Pictures here are mine, got some beautiful sunset shots.

Sunday I went over to Hannah and Laurel’s for a two weeks delayed Easter celebration, with me filling in for the Easter Bunny, so I guess that’s an accomplishment too!  Too much candy was eaten and pretty eggs were dyed.  Tie-dyed!

Finally, to wrap up, a nice assortment of fun pictures.

Some good sunset shots.


And cats and flowers, one being walked by a woman.   I think that’s all I got, I hope you all have some little victories going on in your lives, and good luck with the ones that have yet to be achieved!


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