When people move out of places, it\’s almost like a hyena feast that occurs shortly afterwards. There are things that people can\’t take with them on an airplane. Things that they need to throw out. Things that they want to give away.

So now, I have two coffee tables, a usb mouse, two whole bags of random food, pillows, a fan, a full-length mirror…

Anywhere I move, I should just live off of hand-me-downs and will-be-trash-if-not-given-aways.

I love organizing things for some reason. When the opportunity popped up this year to organize a spring break trip to NYC, I jumped up and volunteered. It was fun at first, deciding which hotel through research, transportationwise, etc. Yet at the end, when I had to manage all the disagreements of the costs, I hated the job. I couldn\’t remember why planning appealed to me.

And yet again, months later, I find myself planning events to Cedar Point and then suddenly being the \”manager\” of financial matters in my house. For the last month, we had to find new housemates because two people suddenly decided to take jobs. And with this, I have to shuffle my way through the muddy waters left behind from last year\’s housemates including the fuzzy lines about utilities, security deposits, and who owns what in the house. Of course, everything has to be fair. Yet does fairness mean ruining relationships?

It\’s easy to live alone. It\’s easy to be completely independent. A do-it-yourself. Free from people. But as a result of this kind of independence, there comes a price. A lack of relationships. A lack of smiles appearing in your own house. Even as much as I hate the money grubbing, security deposits, moving things…there are times I am still glad I live in a house with other people. It\’s a reminder to myself that I am not alone.

When you\’re saying goodbye to someone, do you want to spend every moment with them until they leave at the airport? Is a farewell at the airport better fit than saying goodbye at the curb? Or even a goodbye at someone\’s house the night before?

Airports for me are a place of goodbyes. One of my first major goodbye at an airport was almost 4 years ago now. It was at the LAX airport where I was saying goodbye to him. It was the day after a major realization. And there we were, my flight fortunately slightly delayed. We left his dad\’s car in rush to make it to my 8 am flight. The time was 7:55 am. We were at the gate (pre-9/11). I said (with a cliched giggle), \”Not goodbye, but I\’ll see you later. Soon.\”

And with that, came my many goodbyes an airport. There were times I really believed that I wouldn\’t see someone again. But because I knew our relationship would change with the upcoming months, and we wouldn\’t find that drive to see each other again. Or perhaps, it was a chance meeting, a meeting that wouldn\’t occur because we weren\’t good enough friends. One of the last times I said goodbye was at the oakland airport to Noah and Jesse someone I had met recently. I would see Noah again…but to see Jesse, a developing friendship has to appear. And in Boston, I said goodbye to Karen. But in that case, there are no unspoken words. I am going to see her again, no matter what.

And so tomorrow, Janette is leaving. I hope to visit her in Seattle. But with so many visits, both people need to have a mutual desire of visiting. She was one of the most awesome people I have met at CMU. And so many others I haven\’t mentioned. Just that right now, if I am saying hello to all these new people, how will I handle saying goodbye when I have to leave Pittsburgh for good?

Today might be the last first day of class. No regrets this year. No regrets!

Edit: Unfortunately there will probably be some. I can only choose one among these three: a student competition at chi, a marketing course or design course.

One of my friends was telling me how hardcore a biker he is. When he falls, he falls in such a way that the bike is the least damaged. A few weeks ago, something hit his bike was he was sailing at 40 mph. He attempted to maintain his balance until he slowed down to a \”safe\” speed and let himself fall, with his back to the ground, sliding into the bushes to the side, with his feet in the air protecting his expensive bike. In the past, he mentioned that some people would allow themselves to be more damaged in sacrifice of their bike.

I didn\’t really understand how an inanimate object could hold so much more value than one\’s self. Until I tripped over an uneven sidewalk in the Southside, falling to my side…and scratching my new digital camera badly. Too bad I didn\’t have preparation for the fall.

I spent the next 10 minutes bleeding, but moaning about what bad shape my camera is in. I can heal, but inanimate objects cannot.

My new housemate Ray was borrowing my small bottle of white glue to fix our kitchen drawer. He was holding it up trying to get the glue out the small hole. Shaking and squeezing the small bottle. Without thinking, I asked, \”Is it coming?\”

\”Yeah,\” he answered as he started smearing the glue across our broken drawer.

A moment later in hidden embarrassment, I wondered if he got the accidental allusion.

One major decision looming ahead. One that will break my bank account. One that will make or break my career goals. Ok, exaggeration.

I have only 4 classes left in my program and could feasibly finish that in a semester. But I wanted to work part-time which I have been doing, but I recently found out that my professor may only have enough money for me to work on an hourly basis 12 hours per week. Which is less than half of what I used to make. So large decision ahead.

EDIT: I really love school!

Option I – finish in December
finish 4 classes in one semester
get to know the new class in 4 months…but having to leave
may not be able to spend summer 2006 with my sister
need to start job-hunting soon
save money
possibly break my lease in my house and have to find someone to replace me in the spring
move out in the cold
rush the research and paper for CHI, conference in April

Option II – finish in May
2 classes per semester for 2 semesters
get to know the class a bit better
may be able to spend summer 2006 with my sister
spend at least an extra $30,000
finish lease
move out during nice weather
spend more time on my research and paper for CHI

Option III finish in December but stay in Pittsburgh work until May
less expensive than Option II
finish classes by December
independent study for my research
could consider taking game design (part-time)
health insurance coverage from parents might disappear in January

It\’s strange how some people are more prone to forgetting things that happen last year. I remember so clearly when things happened and how much we paid. But why argue over little things like that? The past to many is very fuzzy and hazy. The past to me is clear and emotion-laden.

On the way to Costco with Ray and Elena, I heard Papaya\’s Hero. It\’s one of the songs from the original DDR machine back in the day. When I was a freshman in Berkeley, I was totally into all that kind of stuff. And remember watching videos from ddrfreak.com (owned by one of Ray\’s friends). What a small world. And how things always happen to circle back to where they started.

The other day I met the guy who was a reader for my CS160 course in Berkeley. He had just started the hci phd program in CMU. What\’s funny is that the first moment I saw him, I thought he gave me a bad grade! (the graders were picky on homeworks and tests). And I could felt the bitterness coming up, but I held it back as I reintroduced myself (he somehow remembered my name even though I was one of the quiet ones in 160) and told him about how I remembered him sharpening pencils on the first day of 160. Times like these I wonder who I would meet in one year. Probably a resident that I totally ruined the computer of…in my RCC days…

How to see a city on a shoestring budget (experience from Boston sightseeing by myself) and have a great time

  • use friend\’s unlimited subway pass (and remember to return it to her after it\’s done — DOH SORRY KAREN!)
  • go to the biggest touristy sites and walk around the site, don\’t pay the admission fee to go inside, because you already can get a similar sense from the outside
  • use your student pass even if you graduated more than 5 years ago even if you really want to go inside
  • walk along the popular streets, go into (empty) interested stores and come out empty-handed
  • stand in front of a famous politician\’s street and say cheese! (i stood around the corner from John Kerry\’s house)
  • sniff the yummy smells coming from popular bakeries – indulge in buying one item if needed
  • follow casually behind a walking tour of the city just to catch tidbits of trivia
  • taking pictures are sometimes better souvenirs than a snowglobe or a mini-replica of a world-famed monument
  • experience street entertainment such as breakdancing et. al
  • ask all your friends who have experienced the city to recommend what to do
  • don\’t buy (too much) alcohol, what\’s the point when you can get drinks anywhere else — of course if you\’re in manhattan, you should get the manhattan
  • ipod (or music player) makes everything seem better than it really is — I listened to Keane which seemed to make everything all brighter and fun
  • warm-colored sunglasses — same as above
  • stay at your friend\’s place and of course, catch up on your friend\’s life because even if you used to see her often before…it\’s always great to see a good friend again (Thank you so much karen!)