Tuesday, March 23, 2010

And so it begins. . .

"Ahh! I got the Watson!" I screamed excitedly. Then I repeated the same words quietly, "I got the Watson?" The Watson Fellowship is 25,000 bucks to go abroad for one full year to do independent research. It can't be with an institution. It has to be something you do on your own. I spent months obsessing over my proposal, replaying the interview in my mind and cringing at all the dumb things I had said. But when I finally found out I got it, I did not experience the immediate flood of joy and ecstasy I had anticipated. Instead I felt numb. And then slowly the numbness gave way to fear as I realized that this is going to be soooo hard. It will be a really, really, really, no-like-for-realzies-really challenging year.

But now, a little after a week later, a smile has spread across my face and I just cannot get it to go away. My face seriously hurts from the chronic smiling. This will indeed be an incredibly challenging year. I will probably be tested in ways I never have before. I've definitely never spent a year on my own and away from home. But this will also, undoubtedly, be the best year of my life.

For my Watson year abroad, I'll be going to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore to learn everything I can about Chinese music being played outside the Mainland. This means I'll basically be carrying my zhongruan, Chinese banjo, around these places searching for people playing other traditional Chinese instruments. I'll be looking at professional musicians in concert halls and conservatories as well as nonprofessional musicians in teahouses and parks and I'll be playing along with these latter groups. . . if they'll let me.

So, right now I need to be getting all of this stuff that's just been in the works actually going. I need to double check with my contacts to make sure that they all still are on board, I need to book airline tickets and triple check my budget. All boring, tedious stuff. The fun part though is that I have so much more excuse to obsessively practice zhongruan!

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