Pah, correction. I'm not going to Ceremony because I don't really want to go out there with nobody I know, dance alone, and come back alone. It'd be ok in another city, perhaps, but not here, not now. My motivation to go evaporated as soon as I started to get ready after getting home. I don't get lonely when I'm at home alone, but in public, it can happen. Loneliness is like a fire on a cold night for me -- I need it to survive, but I can't bear its fullness. I would probably do very well as the last person on earth, but not so well alone in crowded Beijing. If I could change an aspect about my mental self, this reclusive-peopleneeding polarisation would be the thing to go, because it's one of the few things that seriously has the potential to destroy me. .. and talking about it on IM with a friend, I understand that part of it is that when I'm actually alone, I feel like I'm living in a trance and not really experiencing life or time, while when I'm out around people I have a mental perception of time that lets me feel lonliness. Hmm.
On the upside, at the Beehive I ran into the cute girl I might've mentioned before who has the amazingly cute ethnic mix. Her name is Milton, and we had a really nice conversation, later joined by her brother and another random guy who was at RHPS last weekend. I also picked up at the independant bookstore two political analysis journals, one written from a Russian perspective about the Far East (Eastern Russia, China, Mongolia, etc) and one focusing on developments and concepts in the Middle East. Hopefully they'll be interesting.
It's been noted that I have a middle-eastern look with my beard. The effect is more pronounced when I wear a handkerchief on my head. I remember when I was younger, I used to best recognise ethnicities by their clothing, only vaguely dividing them into race by basic physical features, e.g. black, white, oriental, and indian (of india, not amerindian). It's interesting how, through all the people I'm exposed to, I have a much more fine-grained (in some areas) ability to judge ethnic boundaries. I still have no ability to detect where in Africa different blacks came from (I haven't known a lot of blacks in my life, nor have they ever identified with their specific heritage, perhaps because they don't know it or it's mixed). I can generally recognise a number of European ethnicities, and am getting better at it all the time as I meet grad students doing research here from all over the world and other life experiences cause me to rub shoulders with Europeans. I learned to recognise a number of the oriental races back when I was in Brecksville, initially by being able to pick out Koreans, eventually learning the characteristic looks of Japanese, Han, and Southeast Asians (I still cannot distingish Thai from Laosians, Cambodians, etc). India has a mix of races, and right now all I can do is pick out Punjabi from the rest. Their distinct clothing and other customs helped me identify them and notice their facial/body structure. As for those from the Middle East, I can't always distinguish them from the European spectrum. There is something subtle to the face that's usually there, but it's not reliable enough that I can always see it or feel that I can trust it to be indicative. I think the main thing about my looking a bit more middle eastern is that it both hides part of the look of my face and ties into a different custom of appearance -- looking at the basic shape of my face, especially the bone structure, I look very Norse. MRI data provide access to this bone structure, and it's this structure that is most telling. Given that a good part of my ethnicity is Highland Scottish, this makes sense -- I may have a bit of the French/German look that are the other large parts of my genes, but they are only skin-deep :) .. I find it interesting how our ability to analyse ethnic backgrounds comes about. It's a slightly sensitive topic because it's been used for many negative things throughout history (and few positive things), hence the tendency among certain (very small) factions of liberals to attempt to deconstruct it (and notions of separate cultures) entirely. There are also those who, for cultural or religious regions, establish an elaborate mythos around their race and how important it is (I've known various people of various ethnicities to do this, most recently some Greek friends, but also Hebrews, some particular Indian ethnicities, and so on). This is all very human, I suppose.
I should take a bubble bath.