Tuesday, February 28, 2006

"Bewitched me, body and soul"

Pride and Prejudice is my favorite Jane Austen novel, and the only classic that has ever made me feel—for want of a precise English translation— “kilig”. Indeed, very few contemporary books have given me the kind of kilig that I derive from Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy’s deliciously dynamic love-hate relationship. So when a contemporary movie (and the nth remake in a long line of British film adaptations) attempts to capture the clashing and coming together of Austen’s immortal couple, I am wary of the potential damage they could do.

Fortunately, Working Title’s production of Pride and Prejudice lives up to both the Oscar hype surrounding it, and the beauty of the original Austen novel as well. Kiera Knightley deserves her surprise nomination for Best Actress; as Elizabeth Bennett, she is fiery, independent, headstrong, yet allows the audience occasional glimpses of the heroine’s emotional vulnerability. With the kind of mature talent she displays in this role, this young actress has a long, illustrious career ahead of her. Her onscreen chemistry with Matthew MacFadyen is as magnetic as the Lizzie-Darcy connection should be (MacFadyen is a delightful discovery— a more refined, British Hugh Jackman). Even as part of a generation of desensitized media babies who see stark naked couples screwing each other senseless and don’t even get excited anymore, I find myself over the moon about a movie with nary a love scene in it (not even one chaste kiss!). My favorite scene: Mr. Darcy has just helped Elizabeth into her carriage, and as he walks away, there’s a close-up shot of his hand flexing in shock reaction after grasping Elizabeth’s, as if zapped by a jolt of electricity. Such a simple, fleeting moment, yet it set my heart all aflutter. And when Mr. Darcy straightforwardly declares to Elizabeth, “You have bewitched me, body and soul. I love, I love, I love you”, I was reduced to a puddle of goo.

Kudos to the stellar supporting cast: lovely Rosamund Pike as demure Jane Bennett; formidable Dame Judi Dench (the Queen Bitch herself! I grovel at her feet!) as cruel Lady Catherine; hyperactive Brenda Blethyn as the incorrigible Mrs. Bennett; and of course, the superb Donald Sutherland as reserved Mr. Bennett. In spite of my Elizabeth Bennett-worthy emotional defense mechanisms, I was sniffling in the final scene between Lizzie and her father, when he is brought to tears as he realizes his favorite daughter really is in love.

Modern romantic movies can learn a thing or two from Austen in cooking up a great love story: no wishy-washy leading ladies, no smooth-talking leading men, no mushy dialogue, no torrid kissing or bedroom scenes. Just strong characters who remain true to themselves, complement each other intellectually and emotionally, and fall deeply, madly, passionately in love.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Only child for a weekend

My sister's in Beijing, my brother's in Davao playing in a golf tournament, and so only I was left to watch Memoirs of a Geisha and American Idol with our folks last night (and I won P500 from my mom on a bet that Kevin Covais wouldn't get booted off the show, haha). It felt strange to walk around the Promenade with just my parents-- I looked like a third wheel more than anything. :p

Since I'm too lazy and too uninspired to write a formal review, I just have three comments on Memoirs: 1) Chinese actresses just do not look and sound Japanese. I'm Chinese, I know the difference. 2) Zhang Zi-who? Gong Li was the real star of the movie. Her Hatsumomo was sultry, vicious and emotionally decadent. Magnificent. 3) Overall, not a bad film adaptation of a book that I found overrated. Visually appealing and worth seeing on the big screen.

My fingers are sore and I think I'm getting Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (longest YM conference I've ever participated in *conspirational wink*). Have to stop typing now.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Shameless slobbering

After 3 solid days of hell at work (spent Monday to Wednesday preparing for a business presentation today, and my PowerPoint and Excel skills were put to the acid test), I was ready to collapse when I got home tonight. But my spirits were instantly raised by American Idol, because the boys performed... and how.

Now, as pathetic as it is for a 25-year-old former school teacher to be acting like a love-crazed (actually more of lust-filled) teenage schoolgirl, I have to confess:
as Ace Young was singing Father Figure and he hit the word "naked", I swooned. I didn't even think I was capable of swooning, but damn, the boy is H-O-T. He could have just sung that one word and he would still get my vote. The long, lingering stare into the camera at the end was reminiscent of Constantine, and though it lacked Con's smoldering intensity, he still has several rounds to perfect what the Greek god patented (hot all-American hunk versus sexy intense rocker? Con still trumps Ace, but Ace can be my daddy anytime ;p). The only thing I don't like about Ace is his fashion choices; the whole A&F surfer dude look just doesn't do it for me... but as I told Fara, at least it makes it even more tempting to undress him. Wehehe (yes, PJ, even cerebral people have impure thoughts :p).

Now someone who does have impeccable style and fashion sense is crooner David Radford. Karen was right, he's Arrow model material. ;) I can't believe he's just 17! Pedophile alert! Haha. Good thing Ace is my age, so I can drool over him guilt-free. Another teenage cutie is Will Makar, who is cute in a dorky kind of way. Paula got it right when she said he reminds her of Bobby Brady. :p And of course, Fara would never forgive me if don't mention her darling Chris Daughtry, who is also appealing in a bad boy way, and he sang a Bon Jovi song, which earns him extra points in my book. Plus, the fact that he's married heightens his appeal.

Oh yeah, and they all sing well too. Haha.

Looks aside, my personal favorite among the guys is gray-haired Taylor Hicks. His bizarre habit of going into spasmodic Ray Charles seizures? Love it.
His harmonica playing? Love it. His perennial good-humored disposition? Love it. His boundless manic energy? Love it. His distinct, rich, soulful voice? Love it. Soul Patrol! Soul Patrol! =D

Monday, February 20, 2006

A tale of true manhood and true love

I decided to go watch Brokeback Mountain in a theater after I read in the papers that the MTRCB had approved it without cuts. After all, I prefer my Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger on the big screen (the better to see you with, my dears). However, the drawback of watching a film like Brokeback in a Philippine movie theater is that you have to put up with the boorish ignorance and narrow-mindedness of the other members of the audience. Giggly gasps of "oh my God!" and guffaws of "pucha, pare!" were audible throughout every time Jake and Heath had a kissing scene. It killed the mood, and at the same time made me think, it is precisely this kind of reaction that the film is trying to quash, but Filipino horizons are just not ready to be broadened. Ang Lee, this is not your target audience (then again, at the Golden Globes when Jake and Heath went onstage to introduce the movie, the audience also tittered at the sight of the 2 actors standing awkwardly beside each other-- way to show maturity, people!).

On the movie itself: if only for the endless philosophical post-viewing discussions it provokes, I absolutely loved it (I love any movie that sets the cogs and wheels of my brain in motion). Everyone knows what the plot is: 2 cowboys fall in love with each other, but are constrained by social norms to keep their love a secret from the world. So they each get married to women, but carry on their forbidden relationship on the side. At its core, Brokeback Mountain is a tragic love story that just happens to be about 2 men. As it turns out, it is not, as everyone describes it, "a gay movie". The morning after they first have sex, quiet brooder Ennis (Heath) tells free-spirited idealist Jack (Jake), "I ain't no queer." It sounds ridiculous at first, given that they had done the deed so energetically the night before, but throughout the rest of the movie, both live like "normal" men, and demonstrate distinctly male behavior. In fact, the only thing "gay" about the 2 is that they are physically affectionate with each other. This recalls the ancient Greeks' concept of love, love so strong and passionate that it has to be expressed sexually, and it doesn't matter if the 2 individuals are of the opposite sex, or both men, or both women (as some put it, back then, everyone was gay... and it was okay). No one in ancient Greece thought of homosexuality in a malicious way, and even the most macho of men loved other men deeply, and had no qualms about showing it (see Achilles and his best friend/lover Patroclus).

Jo wrote in her blog that "[girls] kissing other girls [is] "soft," while with two guys it's very rough (uh, see Brokeback Mountain for evidence... did they really have to beat each other up, too?)" I remembered this while watching the movie, and that was when I considered the idea that maybe that was the point: the 2 aren't flaming fags who are going to be sweet and gentle about it-- they make love to each other as men, whiskey-swigging, punch-swinging, rough-and-tumble men. And in a way, that makes their love more pure and true, for they can be real men with each other. There is no need for gentlemanly manners or courtly gestures, no need to put up the sensitive, considerate facade most guys use to win women's hearts. When you think about it, a lot of women look for very feminine traits in men. Aren't we after all most comfortable and free to be ourselves around people of the same gender? If society didn't frown on same-sex relationships (and religion didn't mandate "go forth and multiply"), maybe we would all be falling in love with people for who they are, without worrying about what gender they are.

However, as we belong to a generation that has been conditioned by history and culture for centuries, we perceive Ennis and Jack's love affair as decidedly unmanly, when perhaps they were actually being as manly as it gets: they were so masculine that they could only love the masculine.

Jake and Heath turn in performances of a lifetime, and were duly rewarded with Oscar nominations. However, though Heath technically had the bigger role and Jake the supporting one, I was more impressed by Jake in this movie. Heath tended to mumble his lines in an incoherent way, although I was moved by the scene where his usually stone-faced Ennis breaks down and collapses in Jack's arms. Though the more talkative of the 2 characters, Jake's Jack could convey more with a look than Heath's taciturn Ennis could. I went into this movie a bigger Heath fan than a Jake fan, but I emerged a convert (much like the effect Good Will Hunting had on me-- it was goodbye Ben and hel-looo Matt forever after). I was also pleasantly surprised by Michelle Williams' solid acting. I was never a Dawson's Creek follower, so this was the first time I got a glimpse of her dramatic prowess. You could practically hear her world shatter when she accidentally discovers her husband's secret, and her transformation from delicate housewife to bitter spouse is both convincing and heartrending.

My only complaints about the movie are: 1) the lack of build-up leading to the first time Jack and Ennis made out and 2) how all the characters in the movie noticeably aged save for Ennis.
On the first, the attraction between the 2 sheep herders hadn't been made palpable enough yet, and suddenly they were all over each other. There was no flirting (heck, not even lively banter), no exchange of loaded looks, no apparent chemistry. The audience is left wondering, where did that come from?! After the initial intimate act though, the bond between the 2 grew more evident. On the second, I fault the make-up people for failing to make Heath look older. Jake at least got a receding hairline, a bad moustache and even a paunch that hung over his big cowboy belt buckle, but Heath still looked like he did at the start of the 20-year story. By the end of the movie his 19-year-old daughter could have passed for his girlfriend.

Despite those shortcomings, I make the following fearless forecasts for the Oscars: Brokeback Mountain is going to run away with Best Picture, and Ang Lee is sure to get the Oscar for Best Director. However, Heath did not display enough oomph to win for Best Actor. Jake and Michelle, on the other hand, who turned in more impressive performances in their supporting capacities, just might surprise everyone by stealing the Best Supporting statuettes from their fellow nominees.

But beyond the Oscar hype and the controversial theme, ultimately, Brokeback Mountain is a poignant, truthful film that defines love-- love free of sociocultural boundaries, love without fear of judgment, love that transcends right and wrong. The beauty of that kind of love, the beauty of the idea of that kind of love, is the beauty of this movie.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

They'll always be Wisdom to me

Last night was Sobriety's class night, and this morning I got my butt out of bed at 5:30 to deliver breakfast to the bunch of sleepyheads camped out in ICA's Conference Room 1. As I distributed donuts, it suddenly hit me that these kids will be done with high school in just a few more weeks. It seems like just a few weeks ago that I was teaching them when they were still in third year, still Wisdom, still my wild, wacky, warm, wild, winning, wonderful Wisdom. In my mind and in my heart, I can never get used to them as Sobriety, not only because I wasn't around during their senior year, but also because I prefer to remember them as the incorrigibly loud and irresistibly lovable class who made me laugh, cry and be proud to be their teacher.

Yesterday I sent them a message care of Maddy and Loida, and I'm putting a copy here for posterity. I had used Billy Joel's "She's Always a Woman", and the song happens to perfectly capture how I feel about Sobri-- no, Wisdom. Always Wisdom.

They can kill with a smile
They can wound with their eyes
They can ruin your faith with their casual lies
And they only reveal what they want you to see
They act like they’re children
But they’ll always be Wisdom to me

They can lead you to live
They can take you or leave you
They can ask for the truth
But they’ll never believe you
And they’ll take what you give them as long as it’s free
They steal like they’re thieves
But they’ll always be Wisdom to me

Oh, they take care of themselves
They can wait if they want
They’re ahead of their time
Oh, and they never give out
And they never give in
They just change their minds

They will promise you more
Than the Garden of Eden

Then they’ll carelessly cut you
And laugh while you’re bleedin’
But they’ll bring out the best
And the worst you can be
Blame it all on yourself
‘Cause they’ll always be Wisdom to me

They are frequently kind
And they’re suddenly cruel
They can do as they please
They’re nobody’s fools
But they can’t be convicted
They’ve earned their degree
And the most they will do
Is throw shadows at you
But they’ll always be Wisdom to me

Friday, February 17, 2006

Now THAT's hot

The best part of The Pink Panther: a cameo by the luscious Clive Owen portraying "Agent 006", and proving who should be the rightful successor to my beloved Pierce Brosnan's James Bond (attention, Daniel Craig: just because you dated Sienna Miller does not make you attractive by association, not in the least bit). Dammit.

And while I'm on the subject of good-looking people, American Idol Season 5 has a promising batch of 24 semi-finalists who sound and look good. 2 guys who caught my eye: crooner David Radford and hunk Ace Young. They're no Constantine, but they'll do. ;p

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Cavity (from sweetness, not emptiness)

As expected, a Valentine's gift from my mom was waiting for me outside my bedroom door this morning. I was running late for work, so I just grabbed the paper bag and brought it with me. In the car, I opened the package to find a pair of awesome Kenneth Cole shades. I tried them on, and I thought to myself, my mom rocks. =D [see vanity pic (to borrow a term from Jen, I'm such a camwhore! :p)]

Before going to the office, I made a quick stop at Bizu Promenade to buy my dad a sugar-free cake (he's been controlling his sugar intake since last year), since he won't be able to eat the Haagen-Dazs ice cream cake I got for my mom. When I got home from the office, my brother gave me a single red rose, which was the surprise of the day, and I was genuinely touched. Then I had dinner with my parents, guakong, guama, Abi's family (sans Kev) and Auntie Nene at EDSA Plaza's Summer Palace (Bens had other plans *koff koff*). There was so-ooo much food, but it was all so good I had to have a little (and sometimes a lot) of each dish. My dad had brought along a bottle of Xavier wine (yep, Xavier as in Xavier School-- it's their 50th anniversary wine), which we managed to finish though the adults had very few (I had 1 full glass, Abi had 2, and I don't know how much her brother Bryan had). Of course on the way home we just had to stop at UCC for my parents' coffee fix, so by the time we got back to the house, no one even thought of touching the ice cream cake, we were so stuffed.

I used to denounce Valentine's as a commercialized Hallmark holiday that cheapens love, but maybe that was just jaded bitterness talking. Tonight, with a full stomach and a full heart (in spite and proud defiance of my singlehood xp) I marvel at how much love there is in my life. Perhaps if I were more miserable at home, I would be bemoaning the absence of a "significant other". As it is, the vacuum is not that significant.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Beijing blues

Mission accomplished: I've safely deposited Hanks at Peking University, where she will be studying Mandarin for the next 5 months. In the 5 days I spent in Beijing acting as escort/tour guide/bodyguard/yaya, the only casualty was a glove Hanks left behind in a cab. Aside from my dear sister, I was also responsible for her roomie Jessica, daughter of a family friend and sister of one of the girls I had spent my own study stint in Beijing with 4 years ago. It was exhausting keeping an eye on both Hanks and Jess (who both look more like 16-year-olds than their actual 22 years), at the same time teaching them how to commute via bus, subway and cab, showing them where to eat, shop and hang out, and translating for them every step of the way. Making everything even more taxing was the emotional stress over leaving my sister, which I valiantly tried not to show to her (as someone wise reminded me I should). However, it was also fun to be back in Beijing and vicariously relive the good ol' days I spent as a liu xue sheng (i.e. foreign student) at Beida (Peking University's nickname in Chinese). The trip was truly bittersweet, and in the end, in spite of the physical and emotional toll it took on me, I'm glad I went.

Day 1

We arrived in Beijing to chilly conditions, with a ground temperature of -6 degrees Celsius, and a warm welcome from the VP of Arrow China, who had generously offered to pick us up from the airport and bring us clear across the city to Peking University. Thus my Chinese speaking and listening skills were put to the test immediately upon arrival, and I found them rusty but adequate.

We got to Beida and checked in at the Shao Yuan dormitories. Hanks and Jess got a room in Building 9, the same building we had stayed in before. I got a room a floor below (since the school term hadn't begun yet, the dorms still had plenty of vacant rooms for temporary occupancy). I took them to grab a late lunch at a Taiwanese dimsum place outside the school's south gate, only to find that the place was gone. So we went to the KFC near our west gate instead. Afterwards we went back to the dorm so that Hanks and Jess could unpack and settle in.

Day 2

We took a cab to Wangfujing, Beijing's commercial district, to open bank accounts for Hanks and Jess and change and deposit money. Afterwards we had lunch in Oriental Plaza, the nicest mall in WFJ, then walked around the area window-shopping. We dropped by The Courtyard, arguably the best fusion restaurant in all of China, to chat and have coffee with head chef extraordinaire Rey, a family friend who has been living in Beijing for 9 years now. He is such a character, I love listening to him dispense his wry, unforgiving zingers. He reminds me of a Chinese Boy Abunda, but more refined, more sarcastic, and more adorable.

After visiting Rey, we had ice cream at Haagen-Dazs and plotted our route home with the aid of maps and a bus route book we had just purchased (I had forgotten all the stops and bus numbers after 4 years). Despite our fastidious planning, due to a navigational error and my lousy sense of direction, we took the wrong subway exit and wound up on a bus going the wrong way. But the booboo turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as we found ourselves heading in the direction of Carrefour, where I recommended Hanks and Jess do their grocery shopping. We got off at the bus stop in front of the store and bought some items my charges needed, and had dinner at an adjacent Pizza Hut.

Day 3

I gave Hanks and Jess a tour of the nearby campus of BLCU (Beijing Language and Culture University), where most Chinese Filipinos enroll to study Mandarin. We didn't run into any Pinoys though, since BLCU's classes don't start until later in the month. Lunch was at a Chinese restaurant across the road, and I pointed out all the usual "safe" items on the menu and how to read them. We went shopping at the Silk Market in the afternoon, and I bought a cardigan for my grandma, some clothes for myself, and 8 sipas my mom needs for her high school class's sportsfest (don't ask me why they're playing sipa). I enjoyed flexing my haggling skills in Chinese, and I gave Hanks and Jess pointers on how to deal with pushy/stubborn vendors (the walk-away technique is still the most tried and tested). We had coffee at a nearby Starbucks (Xingbake!) then headed home. We had Japanese food delivered to our rooms, the same stuff my cohorts and I subsisted on during the winter weeks we were studying in Beijing (cheap, filling, and you don't have to go out in freezing weather).

Day 4

We slept in, then had lunch at an Italian restaurant in a department store several bus stops away from school. We walked around the department store after lunch, and I bought a nice Elle bag Hanks could use while in Beijing (it has lots of compartments with zippers and an adjustable strap). Then we went back to Beida and took a stroll through the vast grounds. I led my 2 wards to the lake on campus (yes, there's a lake on campus!), which was still frozen and dotted with skaters. I also showed them the building where their classes would be held. Later that night we had dinner with a friend of Pa's, and my ability to converse in Chinese was stretched terrifically, especially as I received little help from Hanks and Jess. I think I managed ok, but again I was struck by how deficient my Mandarin is, despite many years of study.

Day 5

I was supposed to have a meeting with the Arrow China VP but he cancelled, so after a leisurely Chinese lunch at the restaurant in Shao Yuan's Building 7, we met up with Mark, son of another family friend, who's studying medicine in Beida. He took us to his regular DVD store to show us the selection, and then to his apartment so that Hanks could borrow some of his discs first. Since Mark had just flown back from Manila a few days after our arrival, our parents had managed to send our small DVD player care of him, along with a framed photo of our family which our mom had snuck in for Hanks (Ma's funny like that, she can be surprisingly sweet when she wants to be... I guess I know where I inherited my closet sap genes from). Mark joined us (though he didn't eat) for dinner at Space for Imagination, one of my favorite places in Beijing, a cozy hole-in-the-wall cafe that shows art films every other evening. Mark beat me to the bill, and I was impressed at how he showed he has inherited his parents' magnanimity and hospitality from start to finish. It's reassuring to know that Hanks will have a friend around, and more on their way once the BLCU people arrive.

Day 6

Hanks and Jess accompanied me as I checked out and waited outside our dorm compound for a taxi to take me to the airport. I ended up taking a hei che or ''black car'', an unregistered taxi (drivers of hei ches often wait outside apartments, dorms, hotels, train stations and airports, offering transport service at a flat rate). Since there were no taxis in sight and it was cold out, and the driver seemed pleasant enough, I decided to take the hei che once I got the fare down to RMB90. I gave Hanks a kiss and a hug goodbye, and because Jess was there my tear ducts weren't activated until I was in the car. And even then I wasn't afforded the luxury of full-out crying, as the driver was the chatty kind and I was forced to make small talk. At the airport I caught myself welling up several times, and at least once I told myself out loud to get a grip. I consoled myself by thinking that Hanks would have the time of her life, with her first taste of independence and the heady experience of living abroad. I quelled my worrying by remembering that Hanks is street-smart and tougher than she looks. And I smothered my selfish sorrow by summoning up what awaited me back home: family, friends, students, work, and all the things that are sure to keep me occupied until my sister's return.

I will not wallow. Jia you!

Monday, February 06, 2006

A fine Line

I don’t like country music. Shoot, sometimes I don’t even understand country music, much less its appeal to millions of Americans. But after watching Walk the Line, I felt like a certified fan, at least of country music legends Johnny Cash and June Carter.

Chalk it up to excellent performances from Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon, who both bare their acting— and singing— chops to prove they’re more than just pretty faces. Ever since he stole the spotlight from Russell Crowe in Gladiator, Joaquin has always had my respect as a “real” actor (as opposed to many Hollywood hunks who try to pass off smoldering stares and gleaming grins as acting). As Johnny Cash, Joaquin solidified my belief in his versatility and range: not only did he get Cash’s rich baritone and stiff shuffling down pat, he portrayed the singer as a completely sympathetic character, in spite of (or maybe because of?) his drug addiction, adultery and emotional instability. Joaquin’s Cash was so achingly human, I forgot I was watching a bio-pic of a celebrity, and found my heart going out to a lost soul whose saving grace was the woman he loved, and who loved him.

And that woman was the real delight of Walk the Line, thanks to Reese goodbye-Elle-Woods Witherspoon. Not only did she outsing Joaquin, she also outshone him with the purity and subtle power of her acting— definitely a far cry from the bubbly antics of her lovable ditz in Legally Blond. Reese became June Carter, and June Carter became her. And that was why the passionate love story between Cash and Carter was so convincing and so moving: Reese made it easy to believe in the goodness of June Carter, a steel magnolia who was strong enough to survive her own trials and had strength left over to stand by her man and rescue him from self-destruction. Cowboy hats off to Mrs. Philippe (heck, we should be calling Ryan Mr. Witherspoon now!) for crossing over from silly starlet to serious star.

Although I haven’t seen Capote yet, instinct tells me that Phillip Seymour Hoffman is a sure bet to win the Best Actor Oscar over Joaquin (consolation for Joaquin: you’re waaayyy hotter, dude :p). But it’s going to be a tough call for Best Actress, between Reese’s outstanding acting (and singing) achievements in Walk the Line, and Felicity Huffman’s terrific gender-bending turn in Transamerica. May the best woman-- or woman/man-- win.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Values Test: what mine say about me

I just got this very timely Tickle test result, but I can't explain why it's so timely, precisely because I "honor the relationships I have with other people" (you know who you are! ;p).

"Aileesa, your values help make you a Loyal Rebel.

Your number one priority appears to be honoring the relationships you have with other people. Whether this comes in the form of "protecting your own" even when they've done wrong, or telling the truth to friends in good times and bad, you can be counted on to be there for the others in your life. However, those who don't know you may not get the benefit of such special treatment. In fact, when it comes to dealing with authority figures, you may consider yourself to be something of a rebel. As a result, types like you can sometimes question laws that keep you from something you feel is rightfully yours because you might feel you've earned it."

Friday, February 03, 2006

Tell me how am I supposed to live without you?

Maybe I'm being melodramatic, but as the day of Hanks's departure for Beijing looms nearer, I can feel my separation anxiety consuming my insides. Sure, I survived half a year in Beijing away from her 4 years ago, but somehow it's not the same thing now that she's the one going away for 5 months. When you're the one going away, you have plenty to keep yourself occupied with: new environment to adjust to, new people to meet, new things to learn. It's easy to keep homesickness at bay when you're busy and having fun. But this time I'm the one who has to sleep in our bedroom alone. I'm the one who sees all her stuff lying around. I'm the one who goes on with my daily routine without one of the most essential parts of it.

I guess I never realized just how attached I am to my sister, that the mere thought of 5 months away from her makes me want to cry. Sure, I can rationalize that the months will go by in a blink anyway (January came and went like a quick spring shower; I barely felt it before it evaporated). But I know I will be spending those months worrying and wondering and missing and pining like a fool. I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing that I'll be accompanying her to Beijing next week to help her find a dorm room and get settled down. I get an extra week with her, but I'm also the one who has to physically leave her behind.

I'm so effing depressed.