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  • Writer's pictureAnna Wang

My Daily Monologue (August 2022)

August 1, 2022

I was very distracted, constantly refreshing the web pages and looking for the whereabouts of Nancy Pelosi. Such is the price to pay for living in the present moment.

Miss Campbell died. Why should I feel sad? If I got to know her from a Wikipedia page and read her bio starting with "L. Campbell (1846-1878)," I would have felt nothing about her death. But I came to know her from browsing "The Heathen Woman's Friend," and she was alive this morning, in Vol. VIII and IX. Suddenly she died in Vol. X and I had to spend some time coping with this new information. Such is the price to pay for living through history. (Day 29)

August 2, 2022

I finally read a brief paragraph about Dr. Howard. In June 1881, "The Heathen Woman's Friend" published a letter by Mrs. Walker. In this letter, Mrs. Walker described the missionaries’ work in Tientsin. She mentioned that Dr. Howard had given up her practice among foreigners, because the Chinese patients demanded so much of her time and strength. She also mentioned that a Miss Cushman worked alongside with Dr. Howard, and in the same issue, Miss Cushman published an excerpt from her journal, in which she described a visit to a Daoist temple. It looks to me that everyone except Dr. Howard enjoyed the pleasure of writing. (Day 30)

August 3, 2022

Finally, finally, Dr. Howard, in her own words. Dr. Howard rose to fame because she treated Li Hong-zhang's wife. On her recovery, Lady Li built a hospital for Dr. Howard to treat more women and children. Since Dr. Howard had a good relationship with the family of Li Hong-zhang, some believed that Dr. Howard influenced the settlement of a treaty between the US and China. The letter penned by Dr. Howard was to clear this rumor. She requested "The Heathen Woman's Friend" to publish her statement that "I have nothing to do with affairs pertaining to government, and would not if I could, at home or abroad." (Day 31)

August 4, 2022

The erratic state of public opinion and governance in China today is not that different from 150 years ago. Here is an incident a missionary jotted down in the 1880s: A Chinese man stood in front of a mission hospital, accusing the foreign doctors of trying to gouge out his son’s eyes for them to eat. His baseless accusation agitated the bystanders, and in no time, they stormed the hospital. While watching China firing missiles in Taiwan Strait, I couldn’t help but compare the past with the present. The best part of this story is that the Chinese official later wanted to make peace with the foreigners. He grabbed some suspects from the street and chopped their heads off without making sure if they were the culprits or not. (Day 32)

August 5, 2022

Today is my last day at Drew University. There are still materials that I haven't been about to cover. However, I believe I can borrow some of the books through interlibrary loan after returning to the west coast. This trip's biggest gain is reading nine volumes of "The Heathen Woman's Friend." I don't believe I can read them other than coming to DU. The most unfortunate thing is that I'm a slow reader, and because of that, I don't think I can ever become a good researcher. Writing narrative books is the only thing I'm good at.

The picture is of the lounge in front of the archives center. Whenever I couldn’t bear the cold inside, I escaped to this lounge to get some warmth. So much is my joyful memory. Goodbye, Drew University. (Day 33)

August 6, 2022

I was on the road the whole day—no reading and writing for me. But I got to talk with my son while driving. He just attended a two-week public policy symposium at Princeton. I asked about the political spectrum of his fellow attendees. He said girls were all liberals. Two or three guys dared to claim that they were conservatives. He himself was a libertarian. I was glad to hear it. The money was well spent. (Day 34)

August 7, 2022

We’re on a college tour this week. My son is the lead, and I’m the sidekick, aka the driver. But occasionally, the sidekick can smuggle in some interest of her own. Today we toured the site of the founding of the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. On a rainy day, March 23, 1869, eight women met at 740 Tremont Street, Boston, to form a society of women to minister to women in foreign countries. The rest is history. (Day 35)

740 Tremont Street, Boston

August 8, 2022

We drove through a thunderstorm. (Day 36)

August 9, 2022

Deep down in the farmlands of Pennsylvania, there sits Pearl S. Buck’s old house, which I visited today. In my opinion, Buck’s “The Good Earth” is the most accurate description of Chinese peasants’ fate and mentality. However, I saw a rejection letter by a Chinese diplomat who refused to grant Buck a visitor’s visa on the basis that she had been distorting, smearing, and vilifying “the people of new China and their leaders.” (Day 37)


520 Dublin Rd, Perkasie, Pennsylvania

August 10, 2022

While eating dinner, I read several pages of V.S. Naipaul. I read his “Miguel Street” before, and for some reason, I wanted to revisit it just now. I clicked the Kindle app on my phone, and it was right there. I have a habit of highlighting the words I don’t know with pink. I was surprised to find words like “solace,” “captivating,” and “languor” staring at me, pink-faced. When was the last time I read it? Five years ago, maybe? I couldn’t believe that those words were unknown to me not long ago. (Day 38)

August 11, 2022

Inspired by a news article, "A Dream of a Free China," I visited June 4th Memorial Museum today. This museum is part of a more comprehensive exhibition, Victims of Communism Museum. I saw the list of victims compiled by Tiananmen Mothers. The 200 names on this list are nowhere near the real number of citizens killed on June 3-4, 1989. Worldwide, more than 100 million people murdered by communist regimes. May the memory of June 4th survive the systematic suppression by the CCP. May Chinese people unchained themselves from communism, at home and abroad. (Day 39)


900 15th Street NW

Washington, D.C. 20005

August 12, 2022

Pray for Salman Rushdie, one of my favorite writers alive. We writers may think we write for the sake of literature, but sometimes we provoke beyond our imagination. (Day 40)

August 13, 2022

We are heading back to San Diego. Sitting at the airport, my son took some time reviewing our trip. He spoke highly of my driving skill, especially my ability to navigate the bustling and confusing streets of metropolises. I said it was no big deal. I used to drive in Beijing. He believed he would fail if he took his driving test in Boston or Philadelphia. Then he added: “I guess I’m entitled to some Affirmative Action points. As a Californian, I have such a disadvantaged upbringing.” (Day 41).

August 14, 2022

“Home, sweet home” is such a cliché. Time to face the chores that have been accumulating while you were away. (Day 42)

August 15, 2022

During this trip, I met a friend in person for the first time, though we had been communicating via the internet for a while. We are both writing in English as a second language. There are few people like us, so we decide to form a tiny community. From now on, we would check on each other’s progress and yell deadlines in each other’s ears. At least, that’s our plan. Today she faithfully checked on me and asked for my progress, and I was like, “still dealing with chores.” (Day 43)

August 16, 2022

Time is fragmented. I still can’t do any serious reading, so I decided to re-read “Mrs. Dalloway” between chores. (Day 44)

August 17, 2022

Today I spent some time reading my son’s college application essay, which is also part of the house chores because I’m the writer of the house. (Day 45)

August 18, 2022

I achieved nothing today. (Day 46)

August 19, 2022

A slow week. Did nothing but re-reading 20% of “Mrs. Dalloway.” Felt understanding Clarissa more. Seeing her in me: A woman sits mildly, distractedly inventorizing her life: “a radiancy no doubt in some dull lives, a refuge for the lonely to come to, perhaps…” PERHAPS. (Day 47)

August 20, 2022

I lowered my goal: instead of finishing “Mrs. Dalloway,” a novel, I decided to finish “A Room of One’s Own,” an essay, though it is a long essay with sixty-plus pages, by the end of next week. A person must be reasonable in treating themselves. (Day 48)

August 21, 2022

Virginia Woolf thinks that the beauty of the world…“has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart asunder.” I can understand the edge of anguish, but not the one of laughter. Why laughter? (Day 49)

August 22, 2022

I started strong this morning but then slowed down. Still, in the short period that I concentrated, I came to hold what I hold now. So, the lesson learned: always start strong; there is no downside of starting strong. (Day 50)

August 23, 2022

I installed an app that fosters concentration, according to the recommendation of one of my friends. It has a beautiful interface: water, a mountain peak, and the mountain's reflection on the surface of the water. It just so happened that I read the description by Virginia Woolf about how thought let its line down into the stream, swaying hither and thither, among the reflections and the weeds, until you feel the sudden conglomeration of an idea tugging at the end of the line. "How interesting the design is!" I spent time admiring the dots orbiting the ticking clock. Despite the distraction caused by my admiration, I read for five sessions today, and the total reading time amounted to 125 minutes. (Day 51)

August 24, 2022

“The word ‘time’ split its husk; poured its riches over him; and from his lips fell like shells, like shavings from a plane, without his making them, hard, white, imperishable, words, and flew to attach themselves to their places in an ode to Time; an immortal ode to Time. He sang.” When can I write beautiful passages like this? (Day 52)

August 25, 2022

Last year when I read Fanny Burney, I was impressed by how much she was like Jane Austen and how unfair the public only knew Jane Austen now. Virginia Woolf confirmed my sentiment by saying that “Jane Austen should have laid a wreath upon the grave of Fanny Burney.” (Day 53)

August 26, 2022

Virginia Woolf guessed that “through their incapacity to play football women are not going to be allowed to practice medicine.” Though I haven’t seen proof close to this argument in my research so far, it is nice to be reminded of the work I most wanted to accomplish. I started from researching on the history of female medical missionary in China, and then somewhere along the way I wandered off to reading Virginia Woolf. Why? I don’t remember now. I’m utterly bewildered. (Day 54)

August 27, 2022

My motivation finally came back to me: peer pressure. Remember the friend I met in New York with whom I agreed to check on each other’s progress from time to time? My actual project, a novel, is still in the neverland, so I decided to write an essay that I could show her by the end of this month. The essay was inspired by Woolf, and that’s why I spent time reading and rereading her. Even though the essay in my mind is short, it still demands a point in time to start. And here I am, writing the essay, optimistic about finishing it by the end of August. (Day 55)

August 28, 2022

Today was the happiest day ever since August started. I made progress on my writing, and I felt my reading paid off. (Day 56)

August 29, 2022

The essay I promised to write is 80% done. Today the friend, who has been giving me peer pressure, in a nice way, of course, sent me the link to a poem that describes her misery inflicted by the Covid. “Desired to be Myself Again.” Such a powerful sentence. Click the link to read her poem. (Day 57)

August 30, 2022

School starts today. Here is my favorite spot to take a nap. (Day 58)

August 31, 2022

I searched online for great words to use instead of “busy,” and I decided that I liked “swamped.” (Day 59)

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