Tuesday, January 01, 2013

A Year in Review and a Resolution

The year, in retrospect, was full. The most important event arrived in the mailbox. I received my green card in March, and so can call myself a Permanent Resident of the United States of America, in addition to being a Citizen of Singapore. I am very thankful to my school for sponsoring me, especially the Academic Dean, not only for her leadership in driving the whole process but also for her acumen in changing lawyers when the first lot turned out to be inept. The Registrar spent many hours too on the paperwork. My former department head was also very supportive and helpful throughout the long application.

Being a PR means that I don't have to renew my work permit or get a travel visa in order to return to the country. I got in the PR line for the first time when returning from the school trip to China. That trip was particularly memorable for taichi in Green Lake Park, and for volunteering at a school for migrant children, both in Kunming. It was lovely to visit Dali again, a city I love for its houses, lake and mountains. I'd like to visit China again, this time on my own, and travel down the Yangtze and the Huangho.

First-time visits were made this year to Hong Kong and Bali, together with GH when he flew to Singapore. I am glad that my parents and GH liked each other. Hong Kong was strikingly vibrant, Bali serenely peaceful. We also visited Puerto Rico at the end of the year for the first time. In March I was in Chicago for the first time. Next summer we are thinking of visiting Paris, which GH has not yet seen, and traveling around the south of France. See the villages where Monet and Matisse worked.

Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate in Chicago

This year's musical highlight must be the joyous performance of Takács Quartet. I also enjoyed the HD screening of Strauss's Salome, and prided myself on sitting through the Ring cycle shown on PBS. I watched Giuseppe Tornatore's Cinema Paradiso finally and loved it. The De Kooning show at the Met and the black-and-white Picasso show at the Guggenheim were exhilarating experiences. The best theater was Sydney Theatre Company's production of Uncle Vanya, starring the beautiful and gifted Cate Blanchett.

Another brush with star power happened at the Lambda Literary Awards. There to present the award for gay poetry, I sat near Olympia Dukakis and Amistead Maupin. If I were to be frank, GH was more excited about it than I was, since the Tales of City, both the books and the TV series, mean more to him than to me. This year I discovered Rohinton Mistry. A Fine Balance is a great novel. After reading it, I wanted more and so read Such a Long Journey and Family Matters too during the summer.

Math Paper Press published my The Pillow Book as part of its beautifully-made chapbook series, Babette's Feast. On my visit to Singapore I read at its launch in the store Books Actually. I also read in the Ministerial Lounge at the former Parliament House of Singapore, now a literary arts venue called The Arts House. In New York City, my most memorable reading was at the Barnes and Noble on the Upper West Side. The reading was for the queer anthology Divining Divas. I was ecstatic to study with Paul Muldoon at the Poets House. I did not achieve my goal of publishing in a major American journal.  After much work, my new book is almost ready.

What will I resolve to do this year? I don't believe in making too many resolutions if one is serious about keeping them. I have only one: I will pick up Spanish again and make a serious attempt to be proficient in the language. I have been toying with the idea of living in Mexico or Argentina or even Puerto Rico when I get my sabbatical. GH made the interesting suggestion this morning that I go to Spain instead. Not only will I be at the beginnings of Spanish-language culture, but I will be able to see Moorish Spain and perhaps visit North Africa. Spain is also closer to England, where I can see my friends again.


Patricia Markert said...

Happy new year Jee! What a lot you have accomplished this year. Congratulations on the selection of the Pillow Book by Wendy Tanner. It is a truly lovely book, beautifully published, full of great poems.

Jee Leong Koh said...

Thanks, Patty! You are a huge encouragement. Happy new year!