Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Das Happyend

The German word "das Happyend" was borrowed from English, and acquired a neuter gender (hence the article "das"). It's such an inconspicuously word - so pure, simple, and lasting. Indeed the concept is very intuitive in stories, plays, and novels. Yet the complexity of "das Happyend" as a real life phenomena is very much under-appreciated.

My life has been full of these "das Happyend" moments. Take the High School & University Go Tournament in 2005 for example. I had wanted a school tournament for a long time, in hopes of drawing together all the high school go clubs in the area. Seeing everything happen was absolutely stunning. I remember the day I got the email from CPAC telling me that they're willing to let us use their room. I was ecstatic! It was one of the three times in my life when I actually did a happy dance.

Running the actual tournament was more tedious than I had imagined. There were very few teams, so I paired the teams by hand. There was the problem of assigning tables. There were other problems that I didn't solve as well as I could. Thank god Edward Chung, president of the Canadian Go Association at the time, was there to help me. It's unfortunately that I didn't appreciate Edward's help as much back then - a grave mistake on my part. All in all, things went fine. I was happy. The tournament happened. Das Happyend.

Then I woke up the next day. Did whatever I had to do. Read for a bit. Slept.

Then I woke up a week later. Showered. Ate. Did whatever I had to do. Slept.

I ran the same tournament a couple more times.

I'm here, now.

Thing is, you can't really have a "happy ending" in life, because there is generally no real "ending" involved, unless you happened to die. Eventually you have to move on, keep living, and keep asking the question "Now what?"

This is why life this term has been the strangest thing ever. Every co-op term thus far has had a "das Happyend" story attached to it. Looking back, that's what all my co-op terms had in common: I consistently chose an adventurous path. Of course I needed help at times in seeing the obvious, as you guys helped me with choosing San Francisco, and yes I've once I chickened out of the real adventure. Yet I'd be pretty damn bored if I just aimed for or picked any half-decent job! Adventure! Yes! Fun! Yes! Excitement! Challenge! Exploration! Home!

Every time I come back to Waterloo, it almost feels like I've cheated death. There's that "ghostly" feeling, that confusion that would last for at least several days, and sometimes weeks. This term, this "ghostly" feeling was really prominent. I resigned to the thought that the best of co-op had already passed. Naturally, my expectations had increased over time, so I didn't know if there will be many things to look forward to in the near future. I didn't even try very hard in applying for co-op jobs and preparing for interviews.

So is this really the end? If so "das Happyend" would be the most awful thing you could have. You might as well replace the phrase "and they lived happily ever after" with the phrase "and from then on they lived a not-to-spectacular life, always doting on the time when there was a story worth telling".

I have to admit that until a few days ago, I did feel trapped. "Now what?" is a depressing question if you don't have a sufficient answer. I knew that Microsoft China would reject me. The other positions weren't bad, but they was no thrill associated with any of the positions. Normality. Mediocrity. Maybe the best I could do is to readjust and refocus while the wind is calm, to prepare for the next storm. Maybe I should have quit co-op.

Yet life has a better plan for me - perhaps one good enough to be considered an adventure. I wouldn't call it a happy ending, though. A happy ending is something you at least had to work for. I didn't. I applied to the job without any intent on taking it. I didn't go to their information session (because talking about math with a potential new friend was more interesting and productive). I'm not sure if I left a good impression when I checked google calendar on the recruiter's laptop, when he asked about my availability for second round interviews. Heck, I didn't even get second round interviews!

Well, I guess I was too pro for second round interviews -- because next term, I will be working as a Data Science intern at Facebook.

End of Entry