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  • Writer's pictureAnna Wang

My Daily Monologue (October 2022)

Oct. 1, 2022

We're going to read Laozi in world literature class next week. My professor asked me to prepare to make some comments, making me nervous. I can hardly remember what Laozi's teachings are. Being Chinese doesn't make me know Laozi any better. Sorry, my ancestors. (Day 90)

Oct. 2, 2022

It's a rather curious thing that I understood Laozi more when I read the English translation than the original Chinese. I was never able to figure out the meaning of "道可道,非常道," but this made sense to me: "The way that can be spoken of/Is not the constant way." See, isn't Laozi a bit like Plato? (Day 91)

Oct. 3, 2022

We discussed Laozi in class today. During the discussion, it became more and more clear that I didn’t have much to say about him even though I’m a native Chinese speaker. It is not the case that Daodejing has no truth. It has something that strikes my mind here and there, sporadically, fragmentedly. But overall, like all other Chinese thinkers, Laozi doesn't bother to explain his ideas. He just uses metaphor upon metaphor to elaborate them. As a result, thoughtful debate is not possible. We reached consensus to leave Laozi alone. (Day 92)

Oct. 4, 2022

We started reading “A Prayer for Owen Meany” this week. This is an exceptionally long novel with more than 600 pages. I couldn’t finish the assigned reading, so I bought an audio book, listening to it while driving, walking, and cooking. But I was still behind. Tomorrow I’ll walk more and cook more. (Day 93)

Oct. 5, 2022

It’s a weird feeling to read Jane Austen in the morning, an ancient Hindu epic in the afternoon, John Irving in the evening, and watch an episode of K-Drama on Netflix at night. I felt I was lost in such an expanse of human experiences and expressions. (Day 94)

Oct. 6, 2022

I learned long ago that the person who has been awarded a Nobel Prize was not called a winner, but a laureate, because the Nobel Prize was not a game to decide who was the winners and who the losers. This year the Nobel laureates in Literature is Annie Ernaux; no losers. (Day 95)

Oct. 7, 2022

On campus, almost every student wears ripped jeans. Do I follow the trend, or do I stick with jeans without holes? Which is more inappropriate? (Day 96)

Oct. 8, 2022

I’m mostly sensible with a scientific mind, except for one tiny streak of superstition, which my son just caught. In his college application essay, he wrote about how, in battling with me, he went on a journey to perceive the truth. In literature, I'm called a foil. (Day 97)

Oct. 9, 2022

My short-term memory is deteriorating at astonishing speed. Today my professor sent me a comment on my post in a discussion, whose topic is: “Macrina on the soul and the resurrection.” I was like, “Who is Macrina? What is this discussion about? What did I write?” Of course it all went back to me when I checked back on the discussion board, but the moment of bewilderment scared me. (Day 98)

Oct. 10, 2022

I was listening to John Irving when suddenly I heard one character suggest the other to major in literature because “you don’t need any special talent. You just have to pay attention to what someone wants you to see.” I couldn’t help but laugh out loud on the street. (Day 99)

Oct. 11, 2022

I have been journaling for 100 days. It does make me feel that time has passed a bit slower. (Day 100)

Oct. 12, 2022

Today I continued walking while listening to John Irving, but the streets were noisy than before. I wandered into UCSD campus and met swarm of students walking, biking, skateboarding toward me. I truly felt that we are out of the pandemic. Normality has come back. (Day 101)

Oct. 13, 2022

Today I wrote my worst paper ever. (Day 102)

Oct. 14, 2022

I watched a short video clip of John Mullan talking about the quirks and intricacies of Austen’s fiction. He mentioned that almost all the proposals made indoors were unsuccessful, while almost all those made outdoors were successful. How interesting! (Day 103)

Oct. 15, 2022

It’s mid-term already. I can’t believe it. (Day 104)

Oct. 16, 2022

I feel I’m winning the battle again procrastination. (Day 105)

Oct. 17th, 2022

“I’m going to sit in my car and take a nap,” I told one of my classmates. “I’m burned out.”

“Yes! Aren’t we all?” She nodded her agreement vigorously: “Go! Do it!”(Day 106)

Oct. 18, 2022

It's very rare that my son and I reach a consensus. Today he told me: "The more things I've accomplished, the more slowly time seems to have passed." I said I agreed with this observation, but I wasn't sure he made this observation based on his accomplishment. (Day 107)

Oct. 19, 2022

I found my score on the TOEFL test I took in 1996. I wonder how much I can get now. (Day 108)

Oct. 20, 2022

Just finished on mid-term exam. Did horribly. (Day 109)

Oct. 21, 2022

Mid-term was over. Temporarily not desk-bound. I walked more than 20, 000 steps today. (Day 110)

Oct. 22, 2022

I threw away a cooler today. I’d had it for 15 years but never used it. I bought it because I thought I would enjoy the outdoors. Honestly, I’m not an outdoors type at all. Still, I had always believed I would change until I finally decided not to fool myself. (Day 111)

Oct. 23rd, 2022

The short fall break was over. Another half of the fall semester awaits. Tomorrow I’m going to give a presentation on Jane Austen. The wave of anxiety has been beating on me since this morning (Day 112).

Oct. 24, 2022

Today was full of irony. I arrived at school at 8:30 in the morning, only to find out I’d left my laptop at home. A round-trip to pick up my laptop wasted one precious hour. But our group had already digitally shared the presentation slides with our professor. Turns out I didn't need my laptop. (Day 113)

Oct. 25, 2022

“The Tale of Genji” is an extraordinary work. I can hardly believe a woman can dig into men’s psychology so deeply. (Day 114)

Oct. 26, 2022

When people ask, “how are you doing,” are you supposed to tell the truth? That’s what I did today. But after confessing all my problems, I suddenly felt uneasy and started googling. All the answers point to a big NO. The consequences? People won’t ask you again. Sad. (Day 115)

Oct. 27, 2022

On American Lit class, we discussed if Sherman Alexie’s short stories were based on his own life. I didn’t understand why this mattered. They are fiction, aren’t they. Our professor explained that if readers cared about the answer, it meant that the author had done a great job. (Day 116)

(An irrelevant comment on Elon Musk: The good thing about Elon Musk is he supports the freedom of speech. The ungainly thing about him is his recent remarks on Ukraine and Taiwan, which proves that he is not as smart as he thinks he is. He has his fair share of ignorance, which is fine.)

Oct. 28, 2022

The easiest days to find parking at school are Mondays and Fridays; the spirit of weekends spreads to both ends, resulting in low attendance. If I skipped school, I would choose a Friday. Somehow I think only Saturday is the weekend; Friday and Sunday are spillovers. (Day 116)

Oct. 29, 2022

My daughter flew back for Halloween. She visited her old lab and found her lab coat still there. She planned to make it a ghost costume. A chemist can be spooky effortlessly. Science, Frankenstein, and horror make easy trinity. What do writers have to scare kids? (Day 117)

Oct. 30, 2022

I was working with my son on his college application. His personal statement easily reached the word limit. “I’m bankrupt,” he sighed. “Don’t have the space of even one word to spend.” I deleted an adverb for him, and he smiled, “Now I’m one-word rich.” (Day 118)

Oct. 31, 2022

I learned the history of the word "villain." Villain is from a Latin word "villanus," meaning "villager." In medieval society, a villager was a person lacking manners. As "manners" leans toward morals, villain (villanus) begins to mean a deliberate scoundrel. (Day 119)

(A side note: The original meaning of villain is a tenant as opposed to a land owner, just as Elon Musk’s “Twitter’s current lords and peasants.” Now everyone is equal as long as you pay $8 a month. How nice!)

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