Friday, January 18, 2008

Studying grammar in the winter

I am planning to read two books during this winter; however this plan seems impossible to be completed. If I insist in reading one more two or three hundred page book, there is no time leaving for me to study grammar, speaking, writing and doing other things. After weighing gains and losses, I decided to give up the reading plan.

I am studying an intermediate level grammar book, Grammar in Use, lately. The first time I knew this book was many years ago in the public library. Around two years ago, I found one copy from our college sale book shelves by chance. It cost me only fifty cents and I bought it delightedly. Knowing it is an excellent grammar book, I ordered the advanced one of this series of books later from the Internet later; in contrast, this book cost $ 17 as a regular price. At that time, I thought I have been a college student, and the intermediate level was probably too easy to me and the advanced level should just fit my level. However, after I read a couple units of the advanced book, I found it was a little bit difficult for me. Thus, I went back to study the intermediate one. Instead of gaining a great quantity, I believe quality is more important. In this case, I believe that understanding every grammar point in the intermediate book is not as easy as I thought. As I study it again and again, I get much new understandings and sight at some particular points, and they are certainly all very important and useful. For example, before I read this book this time, I don’t know the different between “in the corner”, “on the corner” and “at the corner”. In fact, on the corner and at the corner are same. You can make a sentence as “A man stood on/ at the corner of the street”. However, you have to say “A person stood in the corner of the classroom”, which means he was inside the classroom. Also, I’m not really clear about this usage that we should say a person gets on/ off a bus but gets in / out of a car before. As one more example, do you use “by” like this way, “I’ll come back by six o’clock?” This sentence means I’ll come back before six o’clock or latest at six o’clock. Also, before studying this grammar book, when I wrote a sentence as “I am living my friend’s home for three days,” I often omitted the preposition word “for”. I wish I can avoid this mistake now.

In addition, the grammar of gerund and infinitive are one of the toughest parts for me. I have reviewed the two parts several times and trying to remember them. I am familiar about some words of them; for instance, “I enjoy reading books”, “I avoid doing exercise as possible as I can”, “My friend suggested me giving up this plan.” I also knew the two sentences that “I stop cooking” and “I stop to cook” are both grammatical correct but they have different meanings. The former one means I am cooking but the action presently stops. The latter one means I stop doing something else and then go to cook.

I even enjoy studying grammar. I know I am a boring person, so I can stand to do such a boring thing. In my opinion, life is boring and essential meaningless. I don’t know how other people think about, but I guess that probably they are more optimistic than me.

When I studied about Zen last semester, I was shocked by the idea of eliminating self-center concern. From my point of view, every single human being perceives this world based on his/ her’s self existence. In other word, the world exists only because I can perceive it. If I close my eyes, everything has ceased to exist. I had never thought about the idea of giving up my self-center although after I heard that I have immediately convinced by it. I accept this idea because it can solve the basic question of the meaning of life. What is the ultimate concern of human life? Only when one merges together into his or her society, his or her life can be strong and positive. Living in an isolated individual life is sad, dark and weak. Be honest, I have been suffering by the philosophical problem in a long time.

When I was young, I felt that the only goal of my life was to achieve an outstanding success. I’m not sure how and where I got such an idea but I just tightly possessed it. It was developing gradually and the mistaken idea is also gradually ruining my life. How can I give up this idea and manage my life realistically? Now, I knew if I can really eliminate the self-center thought, I may get a new-born. Also, I think there is a contradictory point within this idea. Let’s consider it like this way, if one completely gives up the idea of self-center, how can he or she avoid falling into an extremely passive life? How can we find a middle way that we can both have optimistic and initiative attitude towards our live and concern ourselves as less as possible?

Yesterday a librarian from the Flushing library, Miss Xie, called me and invited me to attend a meeting tonight. The main part of the meeting is a speech delivering by Yu Qiuyu. I basically dislike this person and was not interested by his speech at all. However, as a person in charge of this meeting, Miss Xie spent time to call people she knows. The reason is more people coming means greater success of her work. Since Miss Xie is a person whom I respect, I don’t want to refuse her invitation. Also, despite my personal prejudiced view of YuQiuyu, he is indeed a too famous figure to be missed.

Before the meeting, a funny episode happened around me. When I arrived to the meeting place, I saw Miss Xie sitting another raw next to me. I waved to her in order to show her I coming. I thought she should be happy to see me but she made an expression seem as I was a strange rather than a guest she invited. I knew she was certainly not such a kind of person with bad manners, so I waved her again and told my friend, saying, “She is the librarian who called me coming.” Seeing Miss Xie didn’t give me a response, my friend too waved to her to gain her attention. Finally, Miss Xie provided a greeting back to us. When the meeting started, I saw Miss Xie was on the platform speaking to audiences, I was surprised to watch at the woman sitting here. Who was her? Several seconds later, I discovered the mystery why “Miss Xie” didn’t wave me back. In fact, the woman sitting next to was not Miss Xie but Miss Xie’s twin sister. They both have gray short hair, wearing same type of glasses and being same tall and body size. Especially, their faces are almost same. I was embarrassed by my silly action. Perhaps, Miss Xie’s sister knew I was one more person who mistakenly considered her to be her sister. Maybe such an awkward situation is not unusual for her since her sister is a public person in the community.

Let me return back to Yu’ speech. In fact, it was much better than I expected. The topic was about culture and Chinese culture. Instead of giving a random talking, the short speech, around forty minutes, was rather well organized. Yu adapted two words to create a simple definition of culture, ideological value and normal life style. He gave a brief description of Chinese history and culture. He mentioned prehistory time, Qin and Han empires, nomad invasions, Tang dynasty, the peak and golden era of China, and Song and Ming periods. He discussed the strength and weakness of Chinese culture respectively. He pointed out a specific point of Chinese culture that Chinese culture might not be the most achieved civilization among all ancient civilizations, but it is the only one that has not been broken within five thousand years. Declining and dying out of civilizations is nature; in contrast, it is quite strange that one civilization keeps alive thousands years. He said that was the outstanding success of Chinese civilization and we should pay a special attention to it.

Toady is the eighth of the December of the lunar year of the pig. It is a traditional holiday of Chinese. People usually eat a special rice soup which including mixed meat, beans, and vegetable. It is called “Labazhou”, which literal means the rice soup in the eighth day of the last month of a year. I remember when I was in my hometown, our neighbors, often some old ladies, always shared they Labazhou to my grandpa and me if my mother was not at home. I am always cheered up by the warm memories of my childhood and my kind neighbors in my hometown.


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