Friday, April 18, 2008

Phoebe in her lower bunk, which Elena has deemed the 'molerat hole'.

We would like to dedicate this picture of Elena working on her senior essay to Professor John Williams.

Ahhhh…Elena and I are fed, (somewhat) rested, and currently typing blog posts in our hostel room. I’m so thankful that we have a place to rest our heads after this almost never-ending day.

As someone who calls Colorado Springs home, I should like to say that my adventure began yesterday afternoon when Elena and I waved goodbye to campus. Despite the deceptively beautiful weather we enjoyed the day before, as soon as we merged onto the highway Mother Nature insisted on being unpleasant. But we successfully negotiated the treacherous and blizzard conditions on I-25 and made it to the mile-high city in once piece. [Please note that both Elena and I were wearing flip-flops when we left Colorado Springs]

On the day of departure I, in my overzealousness, woke up at 3:00a to drowsily prepare myself for two and a half weeks in sunny California. From 3:00a until 10:00p west coast time, life has been go, go, go... After waking up Elena at 4:00a, we departed for the airport in the dark and dreary pre-dawn hours. Flying to California was easy and pleasant; I spent most of the flight sleeping awkwardly schlumped over the empty middle seat. Post-arrival, we lugged our luggage (which involved some dragging, kicking, and yelling at times for me) from Union station to the Chinese American Museum in the El Pueblo Historical Monument. The museum itself was not difficult to find, as red Chinese lanterns provided wonderful place markers.

Almost immediately upon arriving at the CAM we were welcomed by …
[*At this point in my blogging I was virtually drooling on my laptop I was so tired. As a result, I am offering not one, but two blog posts tonight.]
…Sheryl Nakano, a wonderfully nice woman who has done marvelous things for the CAM. As the baby of El Pueblo Historical Monument’s museums, the CAM is still trying to come into its own. And though there are hurdles to be overcome, I optimistically believe the CAM will make everyone proud in the future. After dumping our luggage behind a desk, Sheryl gave us the low-down on our projects. Our first of two projects comprises of watching the home movies of two prominent Chinese-American families, and the second mission will be to go through fairly fragile scrapbooks from the 1930s.

Following the explanation of our projects, Sheryl graciously gave us a personal tour of the CAM. The exhibit I found most intriguing was the Jake Lee watercolor exhibit. Despite being a Chinese-American painter, who painted scenes of Chinatown, Lee aimed to distinguish himself as an American-Californian watercolorist. To disguise his Chinese-ness, Lee painted quintessential American scenes of barns and fields, but elements of Chinese painting seemed to creep into his works (i.e. plum branches snuck in through the corner of at least one of his displayed pieces).

With a better understanding of the museum and its mission for the future, Elena and I were then whisked off to be introduced to the curator and one of the founding members of the CAM before lunch. First we met Pauline Wong, a newly graduated PhD student who studied informal education. While speaking with Pauline, Suellen Chang dashed in to announce she misplaced her sweater and would be back to meet us more formally. Though we only exchanged two-second greetings, Mrs. Chang left quite an impression. Much to my surprise, Mrs. Chang (one of the founders of the CAM, and a prominent person at the El Pueblo Historical Monument) was nice enough to take us out to lunch. Not only did I enjoy a wonderful cup of horchata, but had a stimulating conversation with Mrs. Chang about transnationalism, and the role of overseas Chinese as middlemen for the movement of goods and ideas between east and west…I think I have to write a thesis now…

Thankfully, Pauline was nice enough to drive us to Gramercy Place, and I was thoroughly pleased to have a place to rest my head. Almost immediately after checking in I checked out, taking a splendiferous four hour nap. Napping completed, Elena and I ventured to the nearby grocery store for provisions. In our excursion I believe I stuck out like a pine tree in a forest of cacti, it’s a little awkward but I’m okay, I like awkward.

Well, I must go prepare dinner while Elena finishes the last bit of her senior essay. Toodle-ooo!