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I just had my last class in college: digital photography. I’m happy that’s how my college career ended. The class pushed a lot of buttons for me; I learned not only about photography, but also about myself.

Here are some of of the photos that I used for my final portfolio:


of sleep felt divine after a couple of weeks running on 5 hours every night and 20-minute naps during the day. I totally collapsed after spending 4.5 hours in the CFA lab printing and matting my final portfolio.

Yesterday was also World of Dance Concert, and we had to hand in our 10-page journal for BharataNatyam. I stayed up until 3 and then got up at 8 to finish the last 5 pages. It was total bullshit; I’ve never been so ashamed of my paper.

As usual, for World of Dance, BharataNatyam had to show up super early to rehearse. This year, because of the Dance department’s budget cut, they couldn’t even rent out the World Music Hall, so it was a short show of 5 pieces in Crowell. And for the first time, they charged entrance fee. I never knew that the situation was that bleak for them.

Here’s us getting ready backstage – lots of pleading and pinning; Ilana, I missed having you pin my saree. What can’t be seen: me as the designed saree pleader, ironing the 6-yard (5.4 m) long saree and looking exasperated as it wrinkles when you have to fold the freshly ironed part, bitching about how BharataNatyam should worth more than 0.5 credit.

And here’s the the youtube video, courtesy of Ivy. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, a.k.a. people arriving late sitting down in front of Ivy, you can only see four people on the left, including me, for most of the video.

The dance this year was nothing compared to last year’s; we barely sweated; we didn’t even rehearse outside of class. But it was fun nonetheless to perform, to put on costumes and make-up: red lipstick, black eyeliner, red nail polish.

I’ve also started packing. I’m trying to downsize all of my stuff to 2 suitcases. Mission impossible? TBD.

till I leave Wesleyan…
A month ago, I was frantically sending out dozens of applications to all jobs, fellowships, internships listed. But now, I just feel numb. This is undoubtedly a turning point – I won’t have a place to go back to and pretend that I have a plan, read graduation, any more – but I feel like I can register the significance only after I’ve stepped out.

I also need to buy a new suitcase and start dealing with all the craps I’ve accumulated, for real this time.

On a brighter note, I booked my tickets to Chicago and to San Diego, still undecided whether to fly or to take the train to San Francisco. Can’t wait to see friends and the west coast.

We just had our performance last Sunday. I haven’t seen the video yet, but I think it went better than I’d expected.
This is a photo of the ensemble right before we stepped out on stage.

We played 5 pieces, and my favorite was 漁歌 (Fisherman’s Song – Ngư Ca). The arrangement for erhu – the instrument that I played – is definitely not the most complicated, but it is so peaceful. I can imagine myself in a small boat, cradled in a big body of water. It’s early morning, the air is brisk, and there’s some rice wine to keep the body warm 🙂

Learning the erhu was definitely one of my two big accomplishments this semester, the other one being learning how to (kinda) swim. I’d love to keep practicing, but not sure how I’d do it on my own from now on.

I’m taking digital photography this semester and the process has been self-revealing, thinking about what kind of images I respond strongly to, what kind of subjects I am drawn to…

In the beginning, I was pretty happy with my works. I have taken quite a few portraits of strangers that turn out quite decent, and I told my class how much I enjoyed the short interaction with all the built-in presumption about what the other is and is not. At that time, I thought it was very reflective of my own general approach in live: making snap judgment, building rapport in a short amount of time.
But now looking at the photos all together to prepare my portfolio, I feel frustrated. They look repetitive, and there’s something else – I don’t know exactly what it is, but I’m not as satisfied as I was a couple of months ago
I talked about this with J., a guy in my class. He suggested writing my thoughts down and I realized that I hadn’t written anything in my dairy for the past 3 months – it’s time to start again.
Thinking about photography is forcing me to rethink my life and reevaluate issues that I thought I’d resolved (this sounds heavy). And this may be why (unconsciously) I have been so resistant to the idea of making my photos more personal, to be more invested in my subjects and my models.
I thought I’d learned how to balance: how to build friendship without getting too intensely attached. In the past few years, I’ve made quite a few friends, people who mean the world to me, but I cannot name one that I would get to see somewhat regularly in the next couple of years. And I thought I had come to terms with it. But maybe I’ve been kidding myself the whole time, maybe I’m still struggling.