Hong Kong was an interesting experience. People were very friendly and the environment was reminiscent of Singapore, but there are a lot more arts events. I also didn’t play in any ensembles the entire time, mainly due to my hand injury. I think this was actually beneficial. I hung around a lot more talented or "professional" musicians and listened more. I also began composing a lot! Somehow after hearing all of this music this year, stuff is starting to come out, and I really like it. Though it sounds totally Western to me, everyone keeps telling me it sounds Chinese. . . hmm. . . .
On my way home, I went the other way around the world and decided to revisit my friends in Vienna. The entire Taiwanese community was gathering to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Republic of China. There was a special guest: Taiwanese born criminologist Henry Lee. I'd never heard of him, but he worked on such infamous cases as OJ Simpson and JonBenet Ramsey. We bonded over living in America, but I didn't mention to him that he seemed to work on cases where things didn't seem to work out very well.
I sang in the choir in Taiwanese and German. The shock at feeling comfortable doing these things now caused me to become all reflective. I’ve really changed so much. I used to dread meeting new people and speaking in foreign languages. But that old fear of embarrassment has been conditioned out of me. I feel more confident and less apologetic for being an incompetent idiot. I guess being abroad for a year has made me more American. When I talk to people I feel interesting, and, actually, I think I kind of am interesting now.
When I was writing my Watson proposal I wrote it in the mindset of, alright, this is what I would want to do if I were good enough, or smart enough, or talented enough. But you know what? I don’t need to pretend to be someone else anymore, and that is so liberating. But now the Watson conference is looming and I'll have to figure out how I stack up next to the other fellows. And I'm actually quite nervous about heading home. It'll be so strange to go back when everything just went on without me.
Before leaving Austria, I saw these guys enjoying sheesha/hookah midstream. The meaning for this is less clear to me, but definitely optimistic.