Baseball in Tokyo

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Tokyo to watch the Oakland A’s play the Tokyo Giants. I know, I know, it was only an exhibition game, but I couldn’t stay the 2 extra days to watch the Seattle Mariners play the Oakland A’s in the “season opener” for the year.  Please forgive me, or maybe I’m asking myself for forgiveness because I know, as some of you know  — it wasn’t my team or my league. I was desperate for baseball, ok?

You know how it is — you just have to see the game and feel safe and at home. In this case, I needed baseball like a drug — I needed to be surrounded by it and see the big diamond on the field. (And here is a semi-non sequitur …..I used to ride BART from El Cerrito Station into Berkeley and the section where the tracks are passing by Albany Jr. High and you see the baseball diamond – I would tear up a bit.  Seriously. I miss seeing that on a day-to-day basis. You think there are baseball fields here in Hong Kong where I live??! )  Ok, getting back to baseball in Tokyo.  

So, out of the whole darn stadium full of Japanese fans — we ended up next to two Americans from Virginia! They were very nice and they made the whole event even more fun and homey.  Dancing in the stands when the A’s scored a run. They bought a round of beers. We bought a round of beers.  The best part, we never had to leave our seats to buy beer because there were cute beer girls that would come around wearing bright neon colors. Talk about a potential girl crush! The girls had on these back packs that were mini beer kegs! Who wouldn’t like a cute girl with a backpack that is a mini beer keg?! (Now I wish I had taken a photo just to show you all!)

Can I just back up a bit? The way certain things are organized in Japan is truly amazing. Once you enter Tokyo Dome — they check your bags and if you have a drink, they would take the drink and pour it into a paper cup for you. They then recycle your glass and/or plastic bottle  right away. I’m not sure if it’s to prevent fans from having a glass bottle to hurl at someone — it just doesn’t seem like part of their culture. Recycling, however, does seem like a big part of their culture.

Anyhoo, the A’s won 5 to 0. Yeah!
My Cubs aren’t doing too well so far, but it’s still early in the season, right?

Yes, here I go again. Unrequited love…….

An Old Man blew us kisses in Maui….

In August, we went to Maui for our summer vacation. We planned this trip with friends and looked forward to it by counting down the days. Normally, it’d take  1.5 days to get to Maui but this time, it took us 3 days to get to Maui from Hong Kong. 

Day one:  We were on our way to San Francisco for a day and connecting with a flight to Maui the next day.
Our flight was delayed because another flight was oversold and we had to wait for some Chicago passengers.  However, because of this delay, a hairline fracture was discovered on our plane’s windshield.  We sat on the tarmac for 4 hours before safety inspectors concluded we could not fly. 
Airline: Go home. Come back tomorrow – same time, same seats.

Day two: We were on our way to San Francisco…..
We showed up for our rescheduled flight and it took off without a hitch. Five hours into the flight, the captain announced that we had to make an emergency landing due to our hydraulic systems failing. On top of this, our plane was too heavy to land so we were dumping fuel in order to land safely — uh, given that our hydraulics were out.  We landed in Tokyo, where I promptly ran to the bathroom to toss some cookies. Food poisoning from the plane.    

With a spiked fever, chills, and flu-like symtoms, I passed out at Narita while waiting for a hotel voucher. While I sort of passed out, Jeff checked us off of our flight by calling the airline. We got rebooked on another flight. We were sick of the all the rudeness and yelling  displayed by some of the fellow passengers toward the Narita groundcrew. We finally got our hotel voucher at 12 midnight and got on buses arranged by the airport. We were awoken by an earthquake at 3 am. Luckily it wasn’t that serious for us to evacuate the hotel. 

Day three: We’re on our way to….
We showed up at the airport for our rebooked flight to SFO at 4 PM.   (Our orginal flight we were supposed to be on had already taken off at 2 PM.)   The flight that we got rebooked on — well, had mechanical problems and was now delayed until 9 pm that night.  The airline agent at the counter shook his head and just sighed on our behalf.  He felt so bad for us that he managed to get us on a direct flight to Hawaii instead — skipping San Francisco altogether.  We had to wait until 9 PM that night anyway and took a red-eye to Hawaii.

Day four: We arrived in Maui.
Arriving after all the delays — made our trip all the  more sweeter. We were so happy to arrive and see our friends. It was so nice to see them at the airport and we were off to Mama’s Fish House. 

We had a lot of fun. It was so heartwarming to be amongst old, dear friends. I especially enjoyed taking turns to cook.
Here is a photo!

Everyone on the trip!

One of the most memorable things about our trip took place on the last day, on the way to airport — to catch our return flight to Hong Kong.   There was an old man who was walking along the town of Paia.  We were all feeling sad that we had to leave Maui and all go our separate ways. As this old man was walking, he would bow, blow kisses and touch his heart. He blew kisses at every car, including ours. It was as if he was blessing us as we continued on our journey —  whether it’d be a flight, a trip to the gocery store, work, etc.  It was slow, methodical, graceful, just so giving  and it was towards strangers. 

At this moment, it was us that felt blessed, to have spent long summer days with friends (in Maui!!), basking in the sun, getting sun burnt, cooking, playing, and just being together. It’s what matters most and it’s what I’ll remember.  Now, even when I walk to work along Ladder Street, I think of him from time to time and feel lucky to have experienced that blown kiss. I guess you can say, I’m still feeling blessed.  

 

 

***

Here are two more photos!

I was able to stay still for a second before.....

My usual pose. Crazy Antics!

 

How ’bout some butter with your bacon?

I know it’s been awhile since I posted.  I have lots to catch up on. Below are a couple of stories and random thoughts. I hope you enjoy!

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Shanghai. I met some old friends there from San Francisco and it was just so nice to see folks from home! Happily, these friends MOVED to Shanghai! So, they are close by to visit any ‘ole time! They have two little girls and one of them loves, and I do mean, LOVES butter on her bacon! We all went out to brunch at Mesa and they have a children’s play area. Once the food arrived, we had to call the girls back to the table to eat their food. Of course, they really didn’t want to eat, they would rather play.

However, once their dad mentioned, “You can have butter on your bacon! Just the way you like it!”

One of the girls came running to the table and sat herself down. Imagine that! All it took was butter and bacon.

Let me say this again. Butter. Bacon.

Hmmm….what is the something in your life that makes you drop everything and lure you back?

*********

I just got back from visiting Stockholm, Sweden and Copenhangen, Denmark last week.  The last time I was in Stockholm was back in October of 2008, it was cold and the days were super short. This time, it was different because the days were bright, sunny, and long. The sun didn’t set until about 11 PM and then, it wasn’t really all that dark — the sky made you feel like the sun could burst out at any given moment and by 3 AM, it would!

The air was crisp in the shade of lilac trees and warm in sunshine along the waterfront. I went running at 4 am (it was Jeff’s idea really to do this!) and was back for my hotel breakfast by 6 am. Along the way, I’d see little ducklings with their proud parents, cygnets and their mamas, and tons of goslings with their ever protective parents! It was sort of surreal.

The long days and the warmth of the sun made me realize that this is what an internally happy and ever optimistic person must feel all the time.  In this beautiful Scandinavian sunshine constantly on your back and shoulders it was like getting a hug from the sun or the universe, however you want to interpet it, or just call me a drunk on sunshine hippy — but not new age! Please!

********

Just a quickie mention. When I went to inquire about a train ticket from Arlanda airport into Stockholm’s city center — the lady at the counter said to me, “Well, you are under 26 years right? You can get the discounted tickets.” I almost jumped over the counter to kiss her, but I instead laughed and laughed — like the little girl I used to be.

  

 

…but what did it say?

I arrived at my yoga class earlier than usual. My teacher was early too. He usually comes into class right on time — no more, no less.

I had read his bio wanting to know where he studied yoga. What struck me was that it said he studied palmistry and used to do this as a living.  Amid his stretching, I jokingly held out my hand and said to him, Do you have time?

He walked over to me and told me to put my hands together as if I was going to pray. He then instructed for me to pull my hands apart and he took my right hand. He then cupped my hand a couple of times as if I was going to ask for spare change.

He then spread my hand back and bent my fingers away for the palm. He then, pulled me closer to the window for better lighting. The whole time he was looking at my right hand, I kept asking him questions like:

Will I have children?
What do you see?
Will I move from Hong Kong?
Will I win the lotto?
Will I grow old with my husband?
Will I ever see a double rainbow?
Will I get to travel more?
Will my business be successful?
Will I get a second helping of dessert?

He would look at my palm and then looked at me a couple of times, but said nothing.

I then started to make statements instead.

I want to travel.
I want to grow old with my husband.
I want my business to grow and expand nicely.
I want to have three children.
With this last statement — he sort of smirked, let go of my hand and walked back to the front of the room to start our class.

I yelled after him.
Wait! …but what did it say? Aren’t you going to tell me what my palm said?

He looked at me and replied:

It said nothing good. It said nothing bad. Just live your life like it’s  normal.

But I pestered him. What about children? Will I have them?

His reponse: You should.

Other students started to file into class and he said,

Ok. Please close your eyes, palms together and take a deep breath.
Now, take a loooooong exhale.

I did just that. I let things go, with my exhale.
It was good advice. Just live your life.

Respect and Manners

I didn’t have any manners the other day.

I scolded a teenager on a bus sitting in a seat reserved for the elderly, telling her that she needed to give up her seat and get up NOW for the elderly man who was leaning on his cane right in front of her. (I was standing next to the eldery man.)   I had to tell her twice because she had her headphones on full blast.
She gave me a mean look while getting up and said, “Ok, I got up. OK?” and
I said to her, “You SHOULD have offered.”  I didn’t go on a full tirade outloud with  “kids these days…” because I’m hopeful that she didn’t represent all the kids. She was just a kid that, on that particular day to me, didn’t have any manners, nor compassion.  Luckily, I know plenty of children who are kind and well mannered.  

I told Susie this before that the sitcoms for kids today, hardly teach them anything good. The all seem pretty snarky to me. It’s horrible.  However, when it comes down to it, it’s what you are taught at home.

Which brings me to this other point that Susie and I were gabbing out. Respect of other people’s property. If you borrow something (this means, it’s not yours and you will return it!) – treat it with respect and return it to the owner in the same condition in which you borrowed it.  This includes books from the library! 

Ok, I think I got rid of what has been on my mind lately. Yes, I feel old fashion and old in general, but folks, it’s time to return to some decency.

Pictures

My cousin, Lana, was visiting me in Hong Kong recently. One of her hobbies is to take photos and I really like her style of photography. I just had to share and give a wee shout out to her.

Lana, thanks for the cool photos!

 This cute market is near our apartment and I just love how it looks
during the day and night. I haven’t been able to capture how it looks at night, but
Lana was able to! She is much more patient. This market also reminds me of the movie,
Amelie.  There is a “green grocer” store that sits on a corner like this. Check it out and watch for it if you missed it!

I don’t really like photos of myself. However, Lana was able to take this shot and I like the composition. What do you think? 

Thanks for taking the time to visit, Lana! Miss you and the rest of the clan.

Who came through for you in 2010?

I hope 2010 was a good year for folks. Mine was a mixed bag of emotions and I wish I could write all the stories and tell you about them.

One of the things I want to share though, is a story about who comes through for you.  As some of you know, my side gig, August Table, has been growing. Our first store, Perch is still selling our products, and we are still selling at the SFMOMA store in downtown and at SFO airport.  We also got picked up by The Gardener in the San Francisco Ferry Building.  However, we wouldn’t be selling our products if it  weren’t for my BFF, Susie and her superduperhusband, Steve.

Yes, this is a shout out! Thank you so much, Susie and Steve!!

In October, I was all snug in Orange County at their house waiting for our shipment to arrive and then, we had planned out a nice long weekend in San Francisco to delivery our products. We had heard from our customs agent that our ship arrived but due to the recent cargo bombing attempts from Yemen – all items would be hand inspected. Yep. This means a big delay since it would take forever to go through each cargo, box, and crate by hand.

I had a return flight from SFO back to Hong Kong on Sunday, November 14th. I had been in the States for about a month, timing it with the arrival of the shipment. The Universe, however, had other plans. It turns out, we didn’t get our shipment until Friday, November 12th at 9 PM. Yep. So, that meant we had to count and sort 2000+ dishes, and pack everything for a Saturday delivery and then, take me to the airport on Sunday.

Steve and Susie went to bed around 10 pm, after helping to unload the dishes and counting out some of them. I had to call my mom to help out too. My mom and I went to bed around 4 AM. Steve and Susie woke up at 530 AM loaded the car for our drive up to San Francisco and woke me up at 6 AM to make the drive. We pretty much drove up non stop and made our deliveries. However, I could not have done this alone without Steve and Susie’s willingness to help and go all out and I do mean all out for me. I can’t thank you enough, really. So, I just want everyone who is reading this blog (thank you for reading!!) to know that they really came through for me.  They did it with such enthusiastic support. The best part? Although it was stressful, we still had fun!

Well, alright, alright, alright — who came through for you this past year?

A side note:
This is my favorite band right now…and I just love how they sing these songs.
Check it out!

Neon Trees Animal (Acoustic version)

Neon Trees Baby (Acoustic and just better than the original!)

I thought it was ruined….

Some of you may have read my previous post about my struggle to meditate. Well, it’s a little more that than. Really. It’s about letting go and not struggling so much.

It’s funny, you just never expect to learn a lesson from simple things.

But, you do!

Here’s my little story.

I’ve been taking pottery for about a year and a half now.  I enjoy it tremendously and really like my teacher and classmates.   My teacher is a positive light that beams encouragement and good words toward her students.  For example, instead of calling me impatient (which I am) she calls me eager.  When a student thinks they’ve ruined a piece of pottery — she tells them to look at it from a different angle. When a student simple throws away their work, she tells them to let go. Let go.

In pottery class, I’ve been working with 3 types of clay: regular stoneware clay, black mountain/lava rock clay, and white-ware clay.  The regular clay feels like play-doh. The black clay is gritty and it feels like the apricot facial scrub.  The white clay feels like brie cheese at room temperature.  The white clay is the most difficult, yet most fun, to work with. I can make the rims of my bowls and cups, paper thin. I have been making a lot of sake cups and mini pedestal stands to put away charms and necklaces.

With each piece that I mold and then have to trim, I tell myself, “don’t get too attached to this thing. You don’t know how it’s going to turn out.”

Yesterday, I had ten items to trim and sculpt before firing it in the kiln.
I worked on 9 of the pieces and saved my “favorite” for last. During the whole time I was working on the nine pieces, I did not get attached and things turned out really well. I ended up liking the two vases, and six sake cups, and medium size bowl even more than I thought I would. I was happy to let them go be in the firing queue, so that their shape can be finalize.

I then relished the fact that I was to work on my “favorite” piece. It was a little rice bowl, paper thin around the edges and the lines were really good. I just had to trim the footing so that it would be an even nicer bowl.

I centered it on the wheel and very gently, folded three little nubs of clay to hold the work in place so I could trim its footing. I was done and lifted the bowl up and that’s when I noticed  a piece of the bowl’s rim was missing. I looked down on the wheel and there it was, the piece that was there — still being held by the clay nub I used to hold it onto the wheel.

SIGH.

It was the one piece I allowed myself to be attached to and here it was, ruined.

I went straight to my teacher and she rattled off different things I could do save it. I could make a little piece of lattice and patch it. I could make a little coil and patch it.  I was just so sad. The best thing I did however, was to put it aside.  I decided to let it go. Didn’t want to struggle over it. Didn’t want to mope over it.

After lunch, I came back to work on it.

I took a different color piece of clay and patched it up.  The outside of the bowl showed a perfect “u” shape that had a different color. The inside of the bowl, showed a slightly smeared patch of  clay that looked like it was painted on.

It looked really nice to me and I showed my two classmates and they were asking me how I did it.

There were asking me like the whole thing was intentional!

They really liked the effect! I said, it all stated with a mistake and a ruined moment…or what I thought was ruined.

I couldn’t believe it. I like it even better than before!
There is something to be said, about letting go and not struggling. I didn’t force it to be what it wasn’t meant to be, and it turned out better than I had expected.

I feel like I will approach things more on these terms. I won’t get too emotional or too attached over things I cannot control.
It’s not worth it. Letting go and walking away made me see things more clearly — like allowing yourself to see it from a different perspective.
This is how one can approach some things — in a positive manner and work with it as it presents itself.

It’s so much more peaceful this way.

Aaaaahh…a sigh of relief to learn yet another life lesson, even at this age!

And just how do you do that?

I’ve been stressed.  I’ve tried meditation many times. I think I’ve had misunderstandings of what exactly is meditation. It’s not the act of getting through it, is it? I mean, if I stress out about meditating that would defeat the purpose, right?

One of my dear friends said to me, it’s like envisioning what you want and focusing on a happy place.

Other friend said, it’s quieting the mind and thinking of nothing.
Riiiight. Shuuure.
And just how do you do that?
How do you think of nothing?
Have you tried it?
It’s difficult not to have your mind wander, isn’t it?

Back in the US — I remember having a conversation with my doctor.
He said to me: I think you need to relax and try meditating.
me: I meditate.
doctor (looking surprised): Really? When?
me: When I drive to work or am on BART.
doctor (laughing): That is NOT meditating! Try again.

If I were to meditate in a traditional setting, my mind usually wanders about one or all of the following at some point:
Mexican food how I love it so and why can’t I find it here in Hong Kong;
what should I make for dinner;
if I have enough sugar and cream for tomorrow’s coffee;
what gym classes will I take today or tomorrow;
what I should make in pottery class this week – sake cups or little bowls;
did I take my vitamins; and
who invented liquid soap and why.

See? It’s hard to think of nothing! 
Do you have tips and pointers you’d like to share?

Right now, I’ve taken up yoga. We’ll see how that goes.
I’ve so far learned how to breathe more correctly. It’s deep breathing, really.  No, it’s not sighing.  I know it sounds funny, but really, I’m breathing again and it’s a start. Right?

…would you be happy?

A good friend of mine recently forwarded me a job annoucement in the US. It was a dream job for sure — it involved urban design, transport analysis, and new bus and rail line studies and implementation. My favorite thing of all time when I worked as a planner was to do just that — study and implement. I loved it.

Of course, I had to do a pass on it.

I then lamented to my husband:
Oh, my earning power has been put on hold. I am making nothing now being here in Hong Kong and not working in the traditional sense! I should just go back to planning.

He then reminded me:  Sure. Go back to getting a job here in Hong Kong in planning.  You could do that, but would you be happy?

The answer of course, was: NO.
I didn’t enjoy being a planner here in Asia. I maybe had one or two projects I actually enjoyed and was proud to participate in — but over all, the masterplan and designing of “new cities” which were basically “american suburban models” that would still be car/oil dependent made me super super guilty and sick to  my stomach. I couldn’t do it. Anymore. I really believe that there are other ways than clearing out slums —  where people vested their whole life into making a home for themselves — a better place.  We could be assisting the people rather than displacing a community. Many of the projects I worked on — I knew the neighborhoods (although some folks would call it otherwise) would just be bulldozed to the ground.  For what?? A new office park with loads of parking of course!  or some high end housing development that mimics some quasi-Mediterranean-Laguna-wannabe-hills estate housing with 3 car garages.  SIGH.

See, this is why I couldn’t go back to being a planner in Asia. Some friends in the states don’t get that the MAJORITY OF THE WORK IS LIKE THIS HERE! See?? This is why I don’t work as a planner?? Do you understand this now?? So, don’t ask me why I don’t work as a planner in Asia ok? Just don’t.

So, back to the title..”would you BE happy?”

Yes, I am happy.  I have to do what I believe in. I have to stand by it.
If I can’t sleep at night because of my job during the day, and worry what will happen to all those displaced folks — who am I then? What would I stand for and what am I working for?

So, yes. I am happy, as long as I don’t have to do that kind of planning.

My Cup of Bologna

I haven’t been feeling all that well this week. I haven’t been feeling like myself. I can’t pinpoint it, I just know that I feel a little unbalanced and I guess you could say I have what Expats here call, “the Hong Kong blues”.

I had to stop myself from booking a flight home to San Francisco. Sigh.
So, what was I going to do about it? Well, I thought I would try yoga and some sort of calming teas.
Sorry if this sounds “New Agey” but it’s not — for real.

So, I get this new tea. I am a coffee drinker.  However, I was thinking I will give tea a go ’round.  The tea says it promotes “emotional balance’ and it would chase my blues away.  The writing on the package did convince me to buy it. It said, and I am paraphrasing here, the tea’s special formula would have a calming effect and help to chase my blues away.  It would lessen my anxiety.  It would expel those everyday stresses.  This is EXACTLY what I need!    I didn’t read the whole thing, but I walked up to the counter and bought the tea.   Sold.

When I got home, I showed Jeff the box of tea.  Jeff is a tea drinker. He usually has a cup of tea every night.  I was excited to try the tea and feel the blues being chased away. Blues be gone!  I sat down with a cup of my magical tea. I picked up the box and reread the promises I believe to be true. Then, I see a little asterisk. I hadn’t seen that before.  I follow the little symbol down to the bottom of the box. The little * was waving at me and pointing to this: “These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.”

I showed Jeff.
He laughed and said, “Well, honey, looks like you got yourself a cup of bologna there.”
We both started to laugh.

It was so funny to believe that I could brew a cup of magical tea and make my blues go away. Funny thing too…at that moment, I hadn’t yet taken a sip, but Jeff’s statement made me laugh and, my blues did disappear.
So, I guess you could say, it did work!

“Love is taking someone to Applebee’s…”

The title of this post is from a cute movie, Paper Heart.  I just saw it over the weekend and the full quote is, “Love is taking someone to Applebee’s and ordering some hot wings!” I laughed out loud and fell off my chair when I heard it. I couldn’t believe that love was summed up in such simple terms. But when I thought about it more and more, I think there might be something to it.

I guess, some might want love to be more than Applebee’s. They may want love to be fancy, romantic, exciting, and impressive…like going to Harry Denton’s Starlight Room and having steak and souffle all the time.  Yes, when you first meet that special someone, it should feel like that, no doubt about it. But in the long run, wouldn’t having steak and souffle, or whatever your ideal fancy meal is and having to go out to a fancy place all the time, uh, get tiring? When and where can you just sit back and be comfortable?

No. Seriously. Think about it. You’d have to get dressed up all the time, and be on your guard and your best behavior all the time to go to a fancy place and have your steak.  When can you let your guard down and just be comfortable?

Applebee’s. (It’s just an analogy people, work with me here.)

Applebee’s and home cooked comfort foods.  This is where true love lies. Oh sure, you can go back to a fancy restaurant every once in a while. Who says you can’t?   But there is something about comfort foods. I prefer it over a fancy meal.  Just as I prefer love to be endearing and enduring.  What makes love this way? It’s the comfort factor.

(I’ll have a side of hot wings please. To go. I have my steak waiting at home!)

A total rambling side thing here:

I am sad that Kate Gosselin is no longer on the show, Dancing with the Stars.  Her dancing sort of reminded me of skits from the Carol Burnett show. Don’t you agree?? (If you don’t know who Carol Burnett is, then you are missing out!! )

What Hong Kong has taught me . . . . .

During San Francisco’s Crab season, I used to invite friends over for spicy, crab — stir fried with leeks, garlic and gobs and gobs of red chilies — dinners. It would be a really nice feast and we would have folks over a span of several weekends.  In the fall, when the weather called for soups and stews, I would make my ox-tail stew and make sure to have  the meat so tender, it would be falling off the bone.  I love to cook especially for family and friends. I know my brother likes my Hainan Chicken I would cook on Sundays and also my mac’n’cheese with crispy sausage.  My favorite, the “Swiss dish” that my Swiss-German roommate from freshman year and her family taught me how to make. It’s basically a potato lasagna, that goes great with a green hearty salad. Perfect for brunch or a light summer dinner.

So, now that I’m in Hong Kong — what do I cook for my friends?  I know I could be cooking really good dishes especially with the “Wet Market” (Farmers’ Market) daily delectables such as fresh quail eggs,  just delivered tofu and soy in many forms,  newly cut egg and rice noodles, and beautiful strawberries and persimmons imported from Japan.  But…no.

When we first moved to Hong Kong 4 years ago, I was just craving a piece of “home” and that meant comfort foods.  So, I invited the few American friends we just met (one from Vermont, and two from Berkeley)  and we had sat down to grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup.  Needless to say, everyone was extremely happy.

Over the weekend, we hosted a buttermilk pancake brunch for our friends and we had 5 kids running around (in a very tight space) high on chocolate pancakes!  We never hosted a pancake brunch in Berkeley!

Well, the other night, with Jeff in Mumbai I was just too darn lazy to cook.
A friend came over for dinner and I told her I’m doing  cold glasses of milk and peanut butter jelly sandwiches. I wasn’t kidding.
She was excited because she has never (really folks) ever had a PBJ sandwich before. Never-ever. Dinner was a sweet hit!

I’m so amazed. I thought I had to cook to impress. I don’t!!
Simply sharing food and spending good-quality time with family and friends is what counts and makes things so wonderful.  Hong Kong has made me realize this.  (Not having an oven forced me to rethink many of my old favorites — ppsst…like mac and cheese, and that “swiss dish”.)

Of course, those super close friends in Berkeley, San Francisco, and Irvine know that when I come over to visit, I practically beg to live in their big kitchen, cook for them and use their ovens!

Coffee and other things I Can’t Live Without

Ok. I just wanted to know at what point in my life (or anyone’s life) they go from high school drinking soda pop, water, and juice..and all of sudden, start college and drink coffee?? AND…become addicted to it?!

I can’t remember. I really can’t. Can you guys remember when you started drinking coffee — those of you who do drink coffee?

I mean, did we start the first day of being a college Freshman and declare to ourselves,

“You know what? I’m going to drink coffee today, just because I’m now a college student!”

How did this happen? How did this powerful, wonderful, aromatic brown water enter my life to make me so addicted to it? It is a beautiful drug for me.  And if I don’t get it at a certain time, I become a grouch. (More than my normal grouchy self .)

And…this brings me to another thing…how did the internet enter my life?? (Yes, I do realize people that I am essentially “dating” myself by admitting that I was alive before the internet age and boom.)  I am so dependent on the internet, on my computer, on emailing and connecting with friends this way, that I become a different sort of grouch when my computer died the other night and went into DOS mode. Oh yeah. Yes. I know folks. I am once again, revealing my true age here. Yeah. I know. DOS. Go figure.

And…when I was younger (way younger)….I used to tell others (when asked) that I was the age that I am, but gave myself the HALF or the 3/4 time measurement too. I HAD to let them know, to stress the point that I am 13 and half..or 17 and 3/4.  It was not so they could do quick math and remember my birthday…I just wanted to become older! Yeah, that’s right.

Well, today — you won’t find me saying, I’m 35 and HALF…I will be 36 soon!
No.  Uh-uh.  By the way…I am way older to know better by now!  (wink)

In closing….I sort of sometimes think…coffee, for me,  is a lot like love. You wake up one day, and you know it’s there. If its not there for you —  you become sad or grouchy. And…similar to love…there is good coffee and baaad coffee just like good relationships and bad ones.   Well, I need coffee like I need love in my life.

On the internet . I think I CAN live without it…for a little while at least. (sigh)
And it’s because…well, I still send cards and postcards from time to time and it’s so nice to have something that a friend or loved one touched and took time to write out, find and affix a stamp on it, and walk to the mailbox.  Drop it in to a black box with good intentions and it magically appears at their house. It’s like sending a good hug  — shortening that distance between the two of you.  My best friend sent me cards and letters throughout college…just as the internet egg was hatching.  Uh, she just reminded me that we depended on typewriters when we were in college…and oh yeah, correction tape and whiteout! Don’t you miss THAT?? Don’t ya??

Tell me it ain’t so….no more Gourmet Magazine? Plus more stuff…..

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve written anything. If you are like my little sister, Sara — and do checks to see if I had any updates (THANK YOU, SARA!!!) then, I do apologize and thank you!!

I’ve been meaning to write for awhile now…I have. There is lots to report. Really.

Why? Gourmet? Why???

First and foremost, I am so sad to hear that Gourmet magazine will end its run.
It’s like seeing a great restaurant shut its doors after serving great meals.  It’s been a reliable friend for me  .  .  .  . way back when I was an undergrad in college and decided to try and learn to cook!!   Me, a poor college student was living vicariously through Gourmet magazine!!!  I still have all my old issues from way back (ahem) since 1991.  My husband even has a “signature dish” that he cooks for me only on special occasions!!! And where do you think he got the recipe and learned to cook it to perfection?? Gourmet.

Apartment Hunting in Hong Kong

Second thing I have to report is that we have to move apartments! What a drag!

I haven’t had to deal with housing issues for so long! It’s like a nightmare from my undergraduate days coming back to haunt me over and over again. (sigh)
Packing. Unpacking. Packing. Unpacking. Packing. Unpacking. Hell.
And apartment hunting here in Hong Kong is the weirdest experience — ever!

In the States — you have one agent (if you need one at all) and you stick with that
agent through good and bad viewings of places.

Here, in Hong Kong — uh, not quite like that!
Here, you gather as many agents as your little book and cell phone can handle!!  And…you have to keep them all straight in your head as to who showed you the apartment first so you can be fair when it comes to paying half their commission.

A Hong Kong friend tells me  — Oh, don’t worry! It’s just like lunch! You just have to think of the agents as the different lunch places and every place has a different menu!

But. But. But…..there’s so many lunch places to choose from?!?!?!

It’s awkward. Yes, yes, yes it is. It seems not all agents here have the same information on what is available and that is why it’s done the way it is done.

Just like, not all noodle shops here are the same. Nope.

Finding a Book in a New Section
(Neither fiction or nonfiction. Discuss.)

I wanted to read the book Julie & Julia, by Julie Powell.  I went to the biggest English bookstore near my neighborhood. I looked under non-fiction…by author. I couldn’t find it.

I looked and looked again…under P for Powell. Still nothing.

I decided to ask for help. Maybe they sold out of the book since the movie was just released here in Hong Kong a couple of weeks ago. ( I haven’t seen the movie yet!)

The sales clerk looks at me and says. Oh, yes.
I follow her.
Actually. No, I don’t.
I go back to where I was…in the non-fiction section, near all the “P” authors.
The sales clerk is not there.
Am waiting.

I see the sales clerk down the aisle in a completely different section.
I approach. I was thinking, she’s in an area that is where they keep their “stock”.

But. No. No. No. No. No. It just can’t be?!??!?!

I look up and the section is called: Books Made Into Movies.
(WHY?? OH, WHY???)

And that’s my life in Hong Kong right now…..

Japanese Kitsch at its Best or Worst?

 

Who doesn’t like kitsch? Especially when it’s cultural kitsch, right?

 

This past weekend, I took a quick trip to Tokyo. I’ve been there several times and really love this city.
Usually when I go to Tokyo — my husband is on a mission to explore the temples, the food, the architecture, and the new urban developments.   So, this trip was a bit different — he had to work all weekend, and this gave me time to explore on my own. Finally!!

 

I spent the morning just walking around the Harajuku area and absorbing the sights of kids in kitsch costumes.  There were several girls dressed up as “maids” or “Raggedy Ann” with their clunky high heeled Mary-Jane’s, knee-high socks, heavy make-up and wigs.  There were also some “slutty” looking girls with ultra micro-barely there minis, high heels, and heavy makeup.  This was much harder to tell if it was a costume or how they actually dressed on a day to day basis.  There was goth, and “gangster-rap” looking boys and girls with trucker hats, loose jeans, and heavy gold chains and even the slouchy walk and pose.

 

Why do these kids do this? I’ve been told — to break free from the everyday norm that is expected of them and to be different from others.  However, by trying to be different through costumes — they end up being  what they didn’t want to be and that is — the same.  This is especially true when they just huddle and cluster in one area — sort of like safety in numbers.   So, that was my Saturday morning in Tokyo.
It was fun, and I was way too polite not to have taken photos.
Maybe when my Japanese gets better.

 

In the afternoon, I was meeting a friend for coffee. This friend lives in Tokyo — she has been living in Japan for over 10 years and speaks perfect Japanese.  She and her husband (both American from the East Coast) have literally immersed themselves into the Japanese culture and can read, write, and speak Japanese with ease. It’s such an inspiration to know them!

 

So, my friend asked me where I would like to go for coffee. I told her, the Butler’s Cafe.
It’s another place I put on my list to explore and too me, it’s very much Japanese Kitsch Culture.  It’s a place where a Japanese women gets to be a “princess” for the time she is there. All the butlers (waiters)  are young,  foreign (white) men.  It’s sort of sad and funny at the same time.

 
It’s such a flip side of the old stereo-type that Asian women are subservient and caters to a man’s every need….well, this cafe turns that notion on it’s head. Also, this cafe is a response in part to the “Maids Cafe” and there was a lack of places for Japanese women to just sit, relax, and be catered to by a man.  By a man.

 

So, my friend and I went to Butler’s Cafe. Once you step over the elevator’s threshold — you are transformed into a weird world of you being a “princess”. 
You get your own tiara.
You get assigned a butler to your table.
If you are Japanese — you get to practice your English since all the butlers are foreign men who are English speakers.

 
There are 3-levels of princess-ness, each costing more than then the next. (My husband said it sounds like a video game — there are three levels you must master!)

Level one: you can take a photo with your butler for a fee. He will just be beside you.

Level two: you can be literally, swept off your feet and carried by your assigned butler and a photo will be take of you in this manner.

Level three: You and all the butlers (yep, all 7 of them or maybe more — depends on how many are working) will go into a private room where a surprise will be given to you and you can take a photo with ALL  the butlers! woo hoo!

 

Of course, I had to share this experience with my BFF back home in California.
She was a bit appalled. She was like — “Whoa, are Japanese women starving for that much attention?” 
Well, maybe if men just naturally doted on women, outside of the wooing phase…then what would the world be like??   hmmmm…..

 

I do note that all the tables, except for one table, were occupied by girls out with other girlfriends. The one table with a lone Japanese girl was the saddest. She seemed really awkward, and she was dressed up in a full Alice in Wonderland dress and had an owl purse. (Literally, a stuffed owl toy that had a zipper and strap — an owl purse.) She even had on huge glasses and looked like an owl herself.  She seemed to really need the (fake) attention from the Butlers — maybe to be cheered up or get a shot of self-esteem.  The one table that choose to do a “Level-2 princess” were all foreign women with North-American accents.   The other tables occupied by Japanese women, seemed to just enjoy the (fake) flirting by their assigned butlers. 

 

Well, I really don’t know what to make of all this. I asked my friend who has lived in Japan for over 10 years what she thought  and she said, it was great in a funny, kitschy way. I can see that. 

 

Only in Japan, I guess.

4th of July with Comic Book Guy

Hello!!! Happy 4th of July!! Yes, we are still in Hong Kong. Two years ago, I was in England on the 4th, but this year, we are here, in Hong Kong.

So, because we are  in Hong Kong — our friends from Berkeley (who also moved here about the same time we did 3 years ago ) called up and asked if we could go out and celebrate July 4th in style.

Yeah what fun!!!   So, we planned to have an America meal for lunch and went straight to Fenwick Pier.
It’s a place where all the US Service men go and have a meal, get a haircut, and buy souvenirs. Officially Fenwick Pier is the Servicemen’s Guide Association of Hong Kong.

We didn’t quite know what we were in for really and heard that they had American magazines at US prices!!! WOO HOO!! My friend and I were just sold on that point alone. (At the regular bookstores here — Sports Illustrated, Oprah, Instyle and People are usually $9 -$12 USA prices!!! Not to mention butter and cream too…..but that is a story for another time.)

I had never been to Fenwick Pier and had imagined it something along the lines of an Officer’s Club or something similar to Newport or Mesa Verde Country Club  — with tennis courts, and drinks on the terrace. Boy, was I wrong!!!

It’s a mini-mall and sort of quiet and a bit run down. They had a restaurant there   — and initially,  we were going to eat there, but one huge table was being occupied by a large family and they took up the entire middle of the place. The host wanted us to sit right next to them and we felt way out of place because we didn’t know these folks and besides, we didn’t even bring a gift. So, we declined and decided to check out the place more. We really wanted to see where these magazines were  — with real US prices and not the usual mark up.  So, we finally found the book store tucked up on the top floor.  They had every magazine and books and also old DVDs like Sandford and Son, The Love Boat, and all the Rocky movies. (If they had Laverne and Shirley I would so buy that!!!)  I’m telling you, some parts of the world are still stuck in the 80s when it comes to movies, music, and fashion.

We wandered into a store that was a bit confusing because  half of the store was jammed packed with bolts of fabric and clothes like a messy tailor shop and the other half was a dried goods grocery store with its’ Betty Crocker cake mix, peanuts, and instant mash potatoes mix. 

We were about to walk out when this voice our of no where says to us: I have sirloin  and ribeye steak,  ling cod, and sea bass too. 

Well, that sort of stopped the guys in their tracks.  
This voice belong to a gentleman who I swear is the Hong Kong Comic Book Guy straight out of the Simpsons. I mean, if the Simpsons were to do an episode where Comic Book Guy has a cousin in Hong Kong then I know where he works!!!  The shape, the face, and the way he talks and dresses is hands down, — separated at birth — Comic Book Guy!! He was really sweet and told us a bit about the place, Hong Kong and how his shop is a one stop shop that could also do couture clothing — hence the tailor shop side of the store.

Anyhoo — as were were leaving, he opened one of his fridges and says, I also have fresh salad too! Here, have a sample, and he hands us each a baby spinach leaf. Very generous.

When we got down to the main floor — without buying anything (no magazine, and no sirloin steak) we decided to take a taxi away from Fenwick Pier have a nice Shanghainese lunch.

Of course — not satisfied that we didn’t have American food or the traditional BBQ on July 4th — we walked to Burger King the next day and had a Whooper with Cheese. That my friends, is how you can take us Americans out of America — but you can not — repeat — CANNOT take the American out of us.

Happy 4th everyone!!

Do you have Salsa?

Last night, after dinner at our local sushi restaurant, we made a quick run to the grocery store to buy eggs. Jeff had requested that I make him pancakes for breakfast on Saturday. No problem.

The grocery store is literally across the street from the sushi place, and our sushi place is really only 5 blocks from where we live.  Our little neighborhood is so convenient and I love it.  (This is why we don’t own a car in Hong Kong)  Anyway, we go in the store and I make a bee line for the eggs. Jeff starts to wonder around, getting fruit, panning the veggies.

I turn the corner and  my eye catches sight of a bag that I have never seen before.
It was how they depict it in the movies, where all of sudden, your vision narrows and everything else just doesn’t matter.

What did I see??
A “Good Eatin” bag of chips!! Eureka!! It was the Chili and Lime flavor! YUMMY!!

I was shaking the bag making sure it was real and Jeff turns the corner, sees me and makes his “oooh” face. I sometimes call it his monkey face because eyebrows go up too.

We were acting like we had found gold in the store! We haven’t ever seen this before. The one annoying thing about the grocery stores in Hong Kong, they are inconsistent with what they stock. You may find the brand you like this week, but it’s not a guarantee next week that you’d find the same thing at that particular store.

me: We need salsa!
Jeff: Great! Do they have salsa?
me: (Huh, never even thought of that! If they have chips, how could they not have salsa?)

I ask in Cantonese – because I want to practice as much as I can.
The guy just looks at me and gives me a blank stare.
I ask again in Cantonese, not willing to give up because I know I am asking it right.
He asks me to wait in Cantonese.
He comes back with a guy and the guys says in Cantonese: Miss?
I ask again if they have salsa? He then says in English. Sorry, I don’t what Salsa is.
I respond back in Cantonese, Thank you. It’s not a problem.

I turn around. He walks away.
Jeff is standing there and says: How do you explain Salsa to a Chinese person?
I crack up and Jeff seizes the opportunity to go further.
Jeff: You mean, you weren’t going to dance the Salsa for him?
I just laugh and keep walking down the aisle getting away from him
since I feel like I will lose it soon.
Jeff finds me and says: What about the Meringue?
At this point, he makes me lose it and I’m laughing so hard, I start crying.

Anyhoo…did we find salsa? No.
But it’s ok. We stumbled upon this little story to share.

Cheetos Update and So Jet Lag, I Lost my Shoes

First things first, I apologize for not writing for a very long time.
I’ve been working on a side project that has taken me astray for a bit,
and if you are interested, here is the link:  http://www.augusttable.com/

I also want to give you an update that my significant other  found me Cheetos in Hong Kong. I have already eaten my quota for the year, and can have no more. Uh, unless of course,  they are a birthday gift. (Only 75 days left to my birthday. This info was given to me by a  friend who happens to have the same birthday. Honest.)   For those in Hong Kong craving Cheetos too, they are available at Oliver’s Deli in the Prince Building in Central. Thank you, Oliver’s!

Now, for the shoe story. I don’t know what happened, but I lost my running shoes.

I came back from visiting San Francisco (ah, the Bay Area, how I miss you so much!) last Thursday. On Friday I did nothing but sleep. On Saturday, I figured 3 weeks of not having exercised was way too long and thought I would attend Spin class. It was fine, although, I could not do the gear 23 as requested by the spin instructor.
Seriously, gear 23 is just too crazy for me. I am not the terminator here, folks.

Anyhoo, laying low on Sunday and Monday, I just slept some more. On Tuesday, I decided to go to another Spin class, but I could not find my tennis shoes. I’m serious.

I retraced my steps — asked the staff at the gym if anyone turned in a pair of silver/blue Asics trainers. They checked their lost and found box and also their log.  No, nothing they said.

I went to the cafe where I had lunch on Saturday, they said they would check.
They did and then also laughed at me.

On Saturday, after lunch, I stopped by the video store to pick up some
movies on my way home.
So, I’m retracing my steps, I went to the video store.
I asked the girl behind the counter — same girl from Saturday —  if she found
a pair of running shoes.
Oh, you want a film about running?
No, I want to know if you found a bag, with a pair of running shoes in them?
You want to go shoe shopping?
No, did you find a bag with a pair of shoes in them?
No. (giggle, giggle.)
Thanks anyway.

I looked everywhere, I just cannot recall where these shoes may have run off to. (sigh)

This makes me worried. Not so much about the shoes…but makes me wonder what else I may have misplaced throughout my life so far.

Do I have my priorites right, or did I forget along the way and misplaced them somewhere?

In Search of Bright, Orange, Crispy-Crunchy Things. Cheetos.

I have not been able to find Cheetos in Hong Kong. Still!
They are my favorite —  bad for you, but oh, give me break — snack.

There are times when I have visited the States and loaded up on these things.
Yes, my luggage had 3 big bags of Cheetos. The family size bags takes up
more room than other things.

On numerous occasions, I have run into the 7-11 stores here hoping that I would find them.
My Cheetos.  Instead, I find loads of other things.  A bag of seaweed chips,  anyone? It comes in regular or spicy flavored seaweed.  How about a bag of salted peanuts with mini dried fish? Would you like a bag of BBQ-flavored corn chips?  Chips that are just buttered flavored and in the shape of a mini-corn?  Shrimp flavored chips? What about a bag of deep fried fish skins? It comes in battered or just salted. The plain salted is good, I’ve had those.  How about a bag of 3 whole, dried squid to go with that ice cold beer?

This reminds me. On the airplane with individual TV monitors, they usually have video games as one of the options.  One of the games was Family Feud. The category: Things you Bring to a BBQ.  I was ranting off a list of things such as, octopus balls, squid balls, and fried tofu with spring onions.  I didn’t score any points.  Funny, huh? I was thinking in terms of what you’d bring to a BBQ here, in Hong Kong.

Barbequing in Hong Kong is different from the States. First off, you don’t have one person manning the grill. Here, eveyone cooks over the grill. It’s like cooking over a campfire, but it’s actually more like a low table with a built in grill.  These grills are already available, dotting the parks and beaches of Hong Kong, so you don’t have to bring your own. You just show up with your charcoal and food items, such as marinated meats, veggies, tofu, and your assortment of seafood flavored meatballs.

It becomes very social since everyone gathers around these grills and cooks at the same time. You are responsible for your own meal and eat at a much slower pace since you have to cook too.   The one thing that lacks at these BBQs…no big bowl of chips and dip while you wait for your food.  We can change that though.  In my bowl of chips, I want it filled to the brim with Cheetos!

I must check out one more grocery store in search of my Cheetos.
Yes, it’s the little simple things in life that makes us most happy, huh?

What happens when the Honeymoon Period is over?

The folks upstairs are redecorating their flat so, it’s been sort of loud these past couple of weeks, not to mention downright annoying. Unfortunately, yesterday, I was too sick to leave the house.  So I decided to put on my earphones and listen to the radio program, This American Life .

It made me cry.  It was the Valentines’  program and it was titled, “Somewhere Out There”.

Ira Glass and the team of producers at Chicago Public Radio rock! I’m sure you all know that already though. I just so appreciate the stories and also the folks that are willing to share their stories with us, the rest of the world. I can’t express this enough, THANK YOU!!

So, what made me cry?
It was the story of this guy trying to find this girl that he met two years earlier,  and he travels across the world to find her again. It sounded so romantic and fairy-tale like what he went through to find his girl again. Long story short, they end up getting married. It’s a happy ending…sort of. I mean, the poignant part of the story was not how they met, but how they stay together.  This is what made me cry.

“People always asks how you met, but they don’t ever ask, how you stay together.”

This is a direct quote from the story. I have to agree. I’m always asking folks how they met, it’s interesting and exciting. Everyone has a story to tell, and in this particular story, they seemed to hold on to the notion of how romantic their fate was on how they met, initially. Overtime, in their marriage, they actually thought of going separate ways and the notion of how they met wasn’t important anymore.

How do you stay together? What makes you stay together?
What happens when the Honeymoon Period is over?

I admit, marriage is hard work.

After all the excitment dies downs, what are you left with that will bind you together?

I have a friend who told me, she doesn’t really want a long term serious relationship because she doesn’t want the chase to be over, the feeling of something new and exciting. Wow!  I completely understand that, but it also saddens me that it’s all fleeting for her.

Another friend who recently got married told me that she now believes that finding someone is actually the easy part, keeping the relationship in tact is really the hard part.

Another friend I have told me that she and her husband decided to have separate bedrooms, and they sleep separately most of the time. They’ve only been married a little over a year.  Hey! It works for them though!

I didn’t answer my own questions I posed above. Why?
Because I don’t think there is a one word or any magical advice for these questions.
I don’t think there is an answer either.
I also didn’t want to impose my views of what works for me, for us, on anyone.
I think every relationship is different.
I just know that love is built on a lot of little moments over time.

To listen to the particular episode, here is the link:
http://www.thisamericanlife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?sched=1283

My Tailor’s English and What Happens After……

I have this tailor in Hong Kong, she’s very popular. It seems all the expats use her and there is always a long long line in front of her shop.  While waiting in line to see her, folks bring along friends or their handy cell phone to keep them company.

It’s usually a 15 to 20 minute wait just to get into the shop, but I just stand there, with my too long pants in hand and wait.
I don’t talk on the phone.
I don’t read.
I don’t bring a friend.

You could say, I eavesdrop on the surrounding conversations in English.  So, everyone has good English. That is, until the step into the Talior’s shop.

Once inside the shop, they start speaking her English and it’s very funny and cute at the same time.

For example:

Girl in front of me on cell phone:
Yes, yes, I’ll be there tonight. Oh, no worries.  I’ll come right after the gym.

She steps into the shop and she starts speaking the Tailor’s english.

Tailor: You. What you have?

Girl: Dress. I have dress.

Tailor: Need try?

Girl: Yes. Need try.

As this is going on, a gentleman already inside the shop is picking up a pair of pants.

Tailor to man inside the shop: You, you. Need try?

Man: No, no need try.

Tailor: Come on try.

Man: No,  no. Too busy. Must go.

And I do the same thing!! It’s my turn and she asks me: Need try?

I say. Yes. Need try. And I’m thinking — Why did I just do that?

It’s like we are all doing that, and we’re not making fun of her. It’s more like she’s the “soup nazi” from Seinfeld and if we want our clothes to be altered nicely, we just follow her lead.

Step in
say what you have
go into the dressing room to try it on
step out and get it measured and pinned
step into dressing room again to take the piece off with pins intact
hand her the piece of clothing
get your quote &  day of pick up
pay her
get your ticket and get out

All this, including mimicking her English!!

Everytime I go into this shop, I hold my breath because in my head, I’m trying not to mess it up. There is a long line after all.

On Valentines……

A couple of weeks ago…when it was Valentine’s Day — I was going to write about what goes on here in Hong Kong.
In the States, Valentine’s Day is commonly known as a “Hallmark” holiday.
(Yes, especially to those cynics. Oh, you know who you are!)

I want to tell you that here, in Hong Kong — it’s not like that. Really.

Why? Well, because a couple of weeks ago I could not find a Hallmark card store!!

But guess what? Yesterday, I found a Hallmark card store. It was pretty darn, Hallmark-y.

So, I couldn’t write about it not (technically) being a Hallmark holiday.

Ok. Getting back to the subject of what happens here  and does Hong Kong celebrate Valentine’s Day?? Yep. Youbetcha.

There were pre-fixe dinner flyers everywhere for you and your lovie on the “special” night.
Yes, come on out and spend a fortune on dinner. Yes, we know it’s the same food we’d normally serve.  But NOW…. we’ve put a special Valentine’s price on it too!!  It now costs twice as much…but we also threw in a pre-dinner drink!  So, you’re getting your money’s worth!

Also, everywhere you went . . . .  there were HUGE bouquets of flowers being carried by somebody. These bouquet were HUGE — they would literally act like a shield and block who ever was carrying the bouquet from the waist up. So, it looked like the bouquet just had legs. (I must get a phone with a camera, or just start carrying my camera around!) I actually like bouquets that are small and sweet and looked they were just handpicked from a field. It doesn’t take much for me to gush over flowers. (Hello?? Are you reading this, Sweetie??)

So, the night before on Friday, the 13th.  I got in the elevator and it was just me and a bouquet of lilies and some roses, and short stubby legs.  I guess this man was a bit large, so this bouquet of flowers also had two side handles too. I spoke to the bouquet, I mean, man carrying the flowers.

Me: Wow. I guess you got your flowers a day early. Smart.

The bouquet spoke back: Yeah, it was cheaper that way. Well….What I mean is…..

He then decided to go into a long elaborate story on how he was going to mail something from the flower store and had to be there anyway, and didn’t want to go back again when it would be crowded and wanted to get this out of the way, so hence the flowers are here a day early.

(Yep, I want to get love out of the way too. I mean, what a drag!)

Me: Well, that’s planning. Have fun. (My floor arrives first and I was glad to step out of the elevator! Whew!)

Well, my husband and I said “double fooiE” to all nonsense!

I admit though….I went and borrowed an oven at a friend’s house in order to bake some Valentine’s mini-cupcake brownies for dessert.  Below are the results.

feb-2009-valentines-007

I hope you had a good Valentine’s on February 14th, but I hope that everyday, you find sweetness and love in your life and not just on that designated (this is a whisper, ok? HALLMARK) day in the calendar every year. Love and xox…and a big X to my Sweetie!

On Religion…….

I was walking  home on Caine Road a couple of weeks ago with two bags full of groceries, when two young, white, missionary girls eyed me. I looked friendly that day – Damm it! They approached.

Ni hao, (Hello in Mandarin) they said.

Me: Hey. I’m sorry, but I don’t speak Chinese. I’m actually from the States.

Girl One: Wow. Your English is SOO GOOD!

Me thinking: (Yeah? Your’s isn’t so bad either. Glad you keep it up.)

Me: Yeah, well, I AM from the States!

Girl Two: Where are you from?

Me: San Francisco

Girl one puts her hand on her chest, steps forward and overly announces very slowly: I’m from Utah.
(Like she is speaking to a foreigner.)

Girl two does the same gestures and says: I’m from MissouRAH.

Me: Yep, you sure are, honey.

Girl one: Have you seen missionaries before?

Me: Yes. I grew up in the States. (I means, wow many times do I have to say this??)

Girl two: Do you  have a religion?

Me. Yes. Yes I do.

Girl one: What is your religion?

Me — In a couple of nano seconds. The following was going through my mind: (Do I lie or tell the truth? Do I tell them that I am an angry Buddhist and then get stuck here having to hear their spiel and take their literature while my ice cream melts? Or do I tell them, I am Christian and LIE…about my religion no less? I mean, I do believe in God and that there is a God, but I didn’t sign a formal contract saying I would worship God via a defined religion. Is that ok? Yes, yes it is.)

Me: I’m Christian.

Both girls: Great!! Have a nice day!

Me: Thanks, you two. Have fun. (Whew!)

Which brings me to another religious topic…..

I was recently in San Francisco’s Mission District having dinner with a handful of good friends when one of them said to me that he is now a “JuBu”.  I have never heard that term before and my reaction was, “a what?”

He said, you know, a Jewish Buddhist = JuBu.

I had to laugh, because with all the acronyms and sayings that I feel I cannot ever keep up with, I was curious. Was this a common thing? Was this a term used widely?

So, I just had to Google it when I got home, and sure enough, there are TONS of sites that list and define JuBu.  The one definition that sticks out the most is: a person Jewish by birth, but practices Buddhism as an adult.

So. Sharing this with  my friends, they started asking what is a Catholic by birth, who now practices Buddhism as an adult? A CatBu?

And what about a Buddhist who still practices Buddhism? A BuBu??

No matter what, I’m just happy folks have found their religious calling….even if they have to travel the world to do it and make new, hip terminology.  It all works for them. Who’s to say it shouldn’t or doesn’t work?

If pets had orbituaries…how would they be written?

hello hello friends.  Happy New Year.

I would have liked to put an exclamation point at the end of the  happy new year greeting up above, and say that yes, this year began on a happy note   —  but upon returning from my two weeks in Bangkok attending a series of cremation ceremonies for my family members that passed away, I discovered that my beloved cat of sixteen years passed away.

My husband is more distraught than I am having discovered her himself all curled up as she were sleeping in our bed. She was cold to the touch and looked like she simply fell asleep and just didn’t feel like waking up anymore.

Well, we got Kati (pronounced with a soft “g” sound) way back in the ’90s. Kati means coconut milk in Thai and it was fitting for a Siamese cat. I was living on College Avenue and had just graduated from Cal when my landlady made an unexpected visit.

She had a sweet little fuzzy ball in her hand and says, do you want this kitten? I got her from a homeless man on the street and if you want her, you can have her. (The white fuzz with dime sized paws fit perfectly in her palm.)

Yes. (Not a hint of hesitation in my voice. Actually it was more like this: AWW REALLY?? YES!! AWWWwwwwWWWW  SHE IS SOOO CUTE!!!)

Great. You’ll have to move out then too, I have a “No Pet Policy” in this building.

Ok, that was a neat way to get rid of a tenant, I thought. (I ended up moving across the street into an in-law-cottage that the landlady had wanted me to move in to.  She actually helped me find the place!)

So, Kati came into my life in the Spring of 1993. She was so tiny that we had to use a tin pie pan for her litter box and she would sit at the edge of the pan with two of her tiny paws on the lip of the pan, like a little lady. Her ears were still sort of folded over and her meow was soundless.

So, fast forward. She came with us to Hong Kong.  She mostly hung out by the window and looked out over the park and watched the birds and hawks fly by. Since we live on the 20th floor, she had a great view of the world below.  However, she lost weight pretty fast over the last couple of months and we had her checked out. She was suffering from kidney failure, but we gave her meds and she was doing a lot better.  Unfortunately, that didn’t last too long.

We found a pet cremation place that also performs a Buddhist ceremony for your beloved pets. Not kidding. It was rather nice. We had 5 monks chatting over her body and they had built her a paper house, paper flowers, and paper food and water bowls. The ceremony lasted over two hours and then she was cremated along with her paper goodies to have in her after life. Only in Hong Kong.  The pet cremation place is http://www.goodbyedear.com.hk/index.htm and they were very nice and treated everyone, especially the pets, with such respect.

They called me the other day, to remind me that Kati is due to get another “flower” and that they would burn one for her. Actually, they gave me the schedule and I thought I would burn her a flower and incense at home myself. So, when they gave me 2 bags of basketball sized flowers all neatly folded via origami paper, I had to laugh. As part of the service, they will now burn these basketball flowers for Kati for the next 8 weeks.

If there were pet obituaries, Kati’s would read like this:

Kati was born in Berkeley May 1, 1993 and live on College Avenue for several years. She also lived in Costa Mesa for a while due to both her guardians having to attend graduate school. She was a wild cat at heart, but turned down being in “Cats Gone Wild”, and would only display her kitty breasts at home after receiving Mardi Gras Beads.  Her favorite hang outs were on top of the kitchen cabinet so she can watch the goings on in the kitchen, under the desk of her architect guardian, playing with the main line wire that hung over the desk, or any sunny spot she could capture.  She found it funny to bolt out the door when her guardians were in full work suits and made them run after her to break out into a full sweat before they had to go to work.  She preferred to do “chirping” noises rather than a full meow. Kati moved to Hong Kong in the summer of 2006, and she passed peacefully of kidney failure on January 2, 2009.  Kati leaves behind her sister, Little Kitty, and her two guardians.

A private Buddhist ceremony was held on January 9, at 2 PM.

Donations in her name could be made through these charities or a charity of your choice.

http://www.spca.org.hk/eng/donate/donate.html

http://www.hkalleycats.com/moneygoes.html

http://www.berkeleyhumane.org/Help/Donate.htm

Photo by E.Chan

Photo by E.Chan

Photo by E.Chan

Photo by E. Chan

Same word, but different meaning. Is that a Homonym??

Sometimes you have to realize that the same word may mean different things.
Uh, yeah . . . .  especially in different places and settings.

This first story is not  mine. I asked one of my dear friends if I could share it by writing about it.
Luckily, he said, “yes”!! (Thank you!)

Huecos is used in Guatemala as slang for gays, and sometimes
used in a more offensive way to call someone a “sissy”.

Huecos, in Costa Rica, means potholes. As in, the potholes in the street.

So, my friend was working in Costa Rica and there was a colleague from the Guatemalan office visiting.
The office sent a driver to pick up the Guatemalan colleague.

On the way from the airport back to the office, the Guatemalan visitor was commenting that Costa Rica was beautiful, but the Costa Rican driver said the biggest problem was the “huecos” since they are everywhere in the streets! (Uh, but he was talking about potholes.)

The Guatemalan visitor was surprised to find this out about Costa Rica,
because he thought the driver meant gays!

He asked the driver, “How can you tell where the ‘huecos’ are?”

The Costa Rican driver said, “Well, look. They are everywhere!”
He starts pointing and saying, “There’s one. There’s one. There’s another one!”

The Guatemalan visitor is merely looking at people on the street,
still not knowing that the driver was pointing at the potholes!!

Yes, but the time they got to the office, they had it all sorted out. Whew!

Story no.2: Redemption.
Yep, that’s right. Redemption.

When I first went to Boston, it was to visit my then boyfriend over the Thanksgiving holiday.
I felt so grown up for being “away over the holidays”, but also a bit lonely
(if that makes any sense) for not being with my friends and family over Thanksgiving.

He and two of his roommates where huddled in this flat over the holidays and they weren’t going anywhere since none of them could afford the time away from their research and money to fly home to California and Texas.  A lot of their friends ( fellow grad students) were doing the same thing. (I could understand the guy from Sweden not flying home, but it made me wonder about the guy from Connecticut.)  Anyhoo.

All these students ended up at this flat and we cooked turkey, cornbread stuffing, garlic mash, — the usual trimmings. But for me, what stood out was the MAD RUSH to buy alcohol before Sunday!
(Come on guys, it’s only Thursday! What is your problem??)

Ah. This is where I first found out about the Blue Laws — where they prohibited the sale of liquor on Sundays based on Puritan laws/beliefs. (I’m sure there’s a lot more to the Blue Laws, but not going to get into it.)

On Saturday, we were all going to take a short drive up to New Hampshire and Maine. On the way out of Boston, I noticed all these storefronts that had the word, “REDEMPTION” on them.

I was like, Wow! They sure are religious in these parts of America. Blue Laws. Redemption.
(Yes, you CAN absolve your sins in a store!  You can do it here!)

On the way back into Boston, I noticed that these Redemption stores had HUGE LONG LINES!
My first reaction was, NO WAY! Wow. People are religious here!

Then I noticed that the people in these lines, they were all carrying boxes, plastic, aluminum cans.

Oh. My. Gosh. Redemption = recycling. HA!!!  (Silly, rabbit!)

Story No. 3.”Who are you calling a Honky, Honky?”
What the . . . . .???

Ok. Fast forward to Hong Kong now.
No more redemptiong, boyfriend, or grad school talk.

I went to dinner with a client and the plates at the restaurant were a bit weird — they had a very small base and it seemed like they were going to tip over.

So I lean in, and tell my colleague, “these plates are a bit wonky.”

He deadpans and asks, “Did you just call me a Honky?”

(I was like WHAT?? First of all, this guys is Asian, not Caucasian! )
Why would I call you a Honky?? (Believe me, it’s not a term I would use anyway.)

He then laughs and tells me, Honky means a person from Hong Kong here, not a white person!!

OH! Same word. Different meaning in a different place. So, if you come over to Hong Kong and someone calls you a HONKY — don’t be offended.  Be Proud.

Do you have any stories to share with me/us??

Trouble with Euphemisms & Slang

I finally gave in and went to a spa yesterday. The weather in Hong Kong has been making my skin feel dry, and I also needed a massage.  What convinced me to go was that a friend was willing to go with me. Such a shared luxurious day makes  me feel less guilty because someone else is also enjoying a day of lux!

The spa is in Central, Hong Kong, and it’s pretty fancy.  Luckily they were giving out promotional coupons for their grand opening.  (Yeah, or I couldn’t afford it otherwise!) Upon sitting down, we were given three menus to choose from a variety of spa services, along with a complementary cup of barely-chickpea tea.  After much discussion, we both picked a hydrating facial, and two massages: the Japanese hot stone and lymphatic.

We each got our own private room with shower. In the room there is a tray on the massage table and the pretty spa attendant explains each item to me.

Here is where I get into trouble.

Pretty spa attendant (who will now be referred to as PSA): This one is just like a shower cap. Open it up and put it on your head to keep your hair out of the way.
I nod.

PSA: This one, is your tea bag.
There was no other explanation. I looked at it and it looked like a dark brown tea bg.
(I’m thinking, I don’t want another cup of tea. If I do have another, I will most likely have to go make a tinkle mid-massage.) (Hey, did you notice that? Euphemism No. 1)

PSA: This is your towel. Wrap it around you like this.
She is gesturing to me how to wear a towel to cover my boob-bees.
(Ah-hem. Euphemism No.2)
I nod.

PSA: This is for your jewelry.
She is pointing to a little lacquer shaped pot with a lit on it and opens the lid.
I nod.

PSA leaves the room. There was one more item on the tray that she didn’t bother to point out along with three fake foam flowers, which were only being used for decoration.

I changed out of my clothes and put on the towel as instructed. I put my hair into the mesh shower cap. I didn’t want any tea so, I left the tea bag untouched on the tray.

There was a knock on the door, and the PSA comes in.
She examines the tray and commands to me: This is your tea bag. Use it.

I’m trying to tell her I don’t want any tea, but she leaves quickly. I pick up the tea bag and it unravels like it’s magic, like it’s one of those fortune telling plastic fish!  Remember those??
I am completely surprised because when it’s done unraveling, it’s in a shape of thong-underwear made from paper!!!

Oh. I see.

That is why PSA left so quickly. She wants me to wear this in place of my underwear. Ha!
She was calling it a tea bag!! (Euphemism No. 3) I had no idea it was supposed to be my spa underwear!

I also decided to see what the one item left on the tray was, which had been ignored.  I pick it up and it too unravels!  It was a bandeau top, also made of paper.  By the time it finished unraveling itself it was so big and so long, I thought, it would be best to wrap part of a mummy’s body part instead!

As I’m thinking this, the PSA knocks, and walks in.  She finds me holding the bandeau length wise from end to end, like it was some big garland to be hung somewhere in the room.
(Yes. I’m thinking the bandeau garland would look best right here.)  She looks at me and takes it from my hands and says: No. No need. (Well, thank goodness for that. Whew!)

I am instructed to lie down on the massage table. She starts to massage me and since I didn’t feel any hot stones on me, I figured she is doing the lymphatic massage first. I heard that lymphatic massage were good, but since I hadn’t had one done before, I didn’t realize that it’s a full body massage working the whole body with pressure points along the lymphatic system.  So, I was quite surprised when she got real close to my va-jay-jay! (Thank you, Oprah, for coming up with a funny euphemism which we can now use and laugh over this ridiculous sounding word!)  My reaction to this?   Well, my leg sort of jerked up and I almost kicked the PSA!!

Which brings me to another story, about Koi. No. Not the fish. This is a new slang that I just learned from my hip cousin and friends in Bangkok.

Koi is a slang and a euphemism for a guy’s Johnson, a guy’s va-jay-jay. Whatever. You get it.

Well, can you imagine trying to find a bar in Bangkok named, Koi?
That is exactly what happened to us.

My cousin promised his friends that we would join them for after dinner drinks at a new bar, Koi.  We got lost.  My cousin didn’t want to give up and wanted to ask for directions.  My friend and my roommate from college was driving and she was not about to use this new slang.

So, my cousin, not wanting to give up, stops and asks this handsome young man,
“Uh. Sorry to bother you. Do you know where Koi is?”

This poor guy just looks at him in disbelief and starts backing up away from the car. He’s looking scared and flattered at the same time.

My cousin asks again: “Hey! Do you where Koi is? I mean, it’s a bar. (yeah, because I’m not asking you as a test of where your Koi, or my Koi is!!)  We are looking for a bar called, Koi.”
Meanwhile, us gals in the car were laughing hysterically, which didn’t help my cousin much. It only made him look like he was trying to pick up on the guy.

We stopped and asked three different guys — who all looked at my cousin like he was drunk off his rocker (See that?? Other euphemism??) or getting hazed, or “punk’d-ing” them out. Then, we realized we were on a street that is known for private gay bars!!! Ah ha! No wonder!

Got to love it. What’s not to love?

Most Thankful for Love (Eewww! What a Sappy Title!)

In 2006, I couldn’t bear to be away from the States over the Thanksgiving holiday. Even though I had only been in Hong Kong for 3 months to start our new adventure, I insisted that we return home. We had Thanksgiving at Aunt Joyce’s house — my best friend’s aunt from grade school.  There were two very long dinner tables and three or four different types of turkey, and it was a massive feast.  The one thing that stood out was the family factor. We felt like family in every way – although technically we were not related – and that was what I was most thankful for that day. That we had a family of friends we belonged to, who welcomed us.

In 2007, we spent Thanksgiving in Mongolia. So instead of turkey, we had plenty of horse meat, mutton dumplings, and multiple rounds of vodka. The weather in Ulaanbaatar was minus 10. It was freezing and I missed our friends and family back home in the States tremendously. Inside buildings, it was boiling hot and once you stepped outside, you felt your body revolting against the cold.

On our last night, I was sitting in a huge log-cabin restaurant, and a band was playing live that night. They were dressed like any band in the world — the cool grunge look of jeans, t-shirts, plaid shirts, and leather bracelet straps here and there.  I was drinking my Mongolian vodka and my husband’s vodka shots  .  .  .  .  and was feeling quite thankful and maybe a bit tipsy (just a bit).

Then, the band started playing a song and almost all the restaurant patrons, who were largely Mongolian, started to sing along with gusto, with heart, with joy, and you could feel the air change.
Our Mongolian host said, It’s an old love song. Everyone knows it.
(Isn’t it interesting how a love song can cast such a spell?? Yeah, I know . . . story for another time!)

Yeah. Everyone does know love.  It was then, that I felt even more thankful knowing that no matter where you are on earth — we have all experienced this wondrous universal feeling at some point in our lives and for that,
I am most thankful.

This year, we are hosting Thanksgiving in Hong Kong! (Maybe I am finally feeling at home here.)
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Day Ends with Connection

ruby-and-cherry1

So worth it to be an “auntie” to my Ruby-roo!!!

After a long day of playing both tour guide and tourist in my newly adopted city of Hong Kong,
I made a small connection with Ruby-roo.  Ruby’s parents and I went to Cal together. (GO BEARS!)
Ruby’s dad was able to captured this moment and as you can see, he’s a talented photographer.
You can check him out at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eugevon/

It’s so nice to have visitors from home, especially over the Thanksgiving holiday. (Hmm . . . now where to find a free-ranged turkey, and all the trimmings. . . . Andronico’s, how I miss thee! Uh yah, since I don’t have an oven!!)

I Can’t Hear You without My Glasses!

Yes. It’s true. I can’t hear without my glasses!
It’s one of the (many many) quirks I have.

Oh. Did I mention I also use my glasses to see?? I do.

Just the other night, I woke up because of a very loud crashing noise that came from the kitchen.
It was the sound of breaking dishes.  I shot out of bed, and ran down the hallway. I saw this blob of a figure standing by the kitchen sink. I could see that this blob was mouthing something and making hand gestures.

In my groggy state, I said,  “Wait. Hold on. Let me get my glasses because I can’t hear you.”

I went back to the bedroom, grabbed my glasses from under my pillow. (I know, some people keep a diary, a tooth for the Tooth Fairy, dreams, or a picture of their future mate, or heck, maybe even a gun under their pillow. I keep my glasses there.)   I put them on, and walked back out to the kitchen.

It was my husband.  He was the blob I couldn’t make out. (Of course! Who else, dud?)
He was sick with a sore throat and had a cold, so he wanted to make some tea.  However, with my glasses on, I could see that he was still mouthing to me what happened, and making gestures because he couldn’t really talk. Yes, it was like a dream come true. I’ve always-always wanted to play a game of impromptu Charades in the middle of the night!! Woo hoo!

Now that I have my glasses on. I could see that he was stirring his cup of tea with a knife. (Ooh, how could he??) He’s still gesturing.  He pointed to the drawer where we keep utensils.

His voice was a bit strained.
Sounding like Marlon Brando’s “The Godfather” he said, “I didn’t want to wake you by grabbing a spoon.”
Well, yes, I don’t see a spoon in sight. I only see a knife being used inappropriately stirring tea. Sheesh!

Scanning the kitchen, I noticed that all of our recycling bits were scattered over the kitchen floor: plastic bottles, cups, plastic take out boxes.

I look at him again.

Yep. He’s still stirring his tea with a knife.
(At this point, I’m thinking, is he’s trying to rattle me? No, not because he has a knife!! I didn’t marry a psycho!! It’s more like, he knows I have a bit of Miss Manners in me and wouldn’t use utensils inappropriately. I mean, come on! Did you read my previous blog posting??!!)

He then points to the dish rack.

Ok, I get it. He didn’t get a spoon from the utensil drawer because when you pull the drawer, it makes loud clanking noises. He decided to grab a knife from the drying rack instead, in an attempt not to wake me.

In doing that, he dislodged a cup that was near the knife and sent it crashing on top of the recycling bin.  The recycling bin got knocked over, and scatters all the plastic bottles, cups, and boxes we were collecting until the end of the week, all over the kitchen floor. THAT I could see. I also saw the cup that fell off the dish rack.

Whew! I guess I need my glasses not only see and hear, but turn on that little “Emily Post” button I have too, because I was still annoyed that he was using a knife to stir that darn tea of his.

I just said, “Next time, please use a spoon.”
I went back to bed and took off my glasses — the world has become silent again.
I’m ready for my next game of impromptu Charades.

Just a side note:

Are any of you in relationships where if you say one thing, your partner has to top you?
Read below to see what I mean.

Me: Oh, I’m hungry!
Him: I’m starving!

Me:  Oh, I’m cold.
Him: I’m freezing!

Me: Oh, I’m tired.
Him: I’m exhausted!

Or maybe . . . just maybe, I’m married to a walking Thesaurus??
Just a thought. Care to share your funny relationship quirks?

Bonus Seat Comes with Chopsticks to Eat Steak & Potatoes!

I was on my way back from Stockholm about two weeks ago.
I was flying a major European airline going home to Hong Kong, and my connecting flight was
through Frankfurt, Germany. When I fly long distances, I always-always request an isle seat.
I want the freedom to be able to get up and out of my seat anytime. Besides I always feel bad
asking the person next to me, who may be engrossed in a movie, book, or even sleeping,
to please stop whatever they are doing so that I can go take a quick tinkle for the 5th time.
I don’t know what it is, but on a flight, my bladder becomes so small that I have to go too often.
I consider it my 3rd carry-on on flights since I can’t store it below my seat or above my seat.
Anyway.  .  .  .

I always hope that no one would sit next to me. The line of fellow passengers boarding the plane was dwindling and yet, here next to my aisle seat, no one was there. The captain announced that we were ready for take off and the door to the plane has been closed. Yeah! Next to me, was no one.

I’m seated in the middle section of the plane where they cram in four people. So, adjacent to the empty seat there was someone, and she seemed equally happy not to have anyone next to her. An empty seat in economy class on a long distance flight between two people is like getting a small bonus. In a three seat arrangement, where you are the only person, with two empty seats that is like winning a grand prize. Getting upgraded to Business Class is the jackpot, handsdown.

Having heard the announcement that the doors to the plane have been closed, I buckled myself in. I make it a rule not to buckle in too quickly, because once you do, you have someone standing over you. Just looking at you.  Using travel-telepathy on you even though you have never seen this person before in your life: “Uh, that is my seat there. You can move now so I can sit down.”

I closed my eyes. I’m feeling good. Wait. No. No, no.
I feel someone standing over me. . . . using that awful travel-telepathy on me. I open my eyes and fumbling for my seat belt, try to quickly unbuckle it so I can let this interloper take his seat.
Where the heck did he come from?
How did he get on board if they already closed the doors to the plane??
Did he ring the doorbell?  Yes. I was disappointed.

I get up quickly and he says to me, “I have a friend.”
(I’m thinking, “Good. We all need friends but, how about, “hello.”)
I say to him, “Why don’t you sit down and you can tell me about your friend.”
He shuffles into his seat.
He starts again, “I have a friend. She and I..uh….there is a window seat back in row 40.”
The girl sitting next to his seat, looking equally disappointed since we just lost our bonus prize, looks at me and says flatly, “He wants to trade seats.”
“Yes.” he says.
“No.” I say. “Sorry.” (Like I mentioned before, I only do aisle seating on long distance flights. You  know, due to my extra carry-on.)
He looks at the girl next to him and says to her, “Oh, you guys are friends? Maybe you can sit together back there? Then my friend can move up here!”
Ha! To him, he just solved his lonely flight problem.
No way, man. Whoever is sitting back there wouldn’t move for you, like they would move for us.
The girl looks at me and says, “No. I don’t want to sit in the back of the plane.”
(I was thinking; Yeah, and we not friends.)

Uncomfortable silence. I again buckle my seat belt. I get comfortable. I pull out my magazine and the flight safety card. The usual announcements are being made.
This interloper of our bonus prize then says to me, “I have t go tell my friend. Can you please let me out?”
(No Way!) I move of course. I don’t want his scrawny butt by my face as he tries to squeeze pass me in my seat.

Ok. So you think that was the end, right? Ha!

Food Service
I’m sure the lovely flight attendants of this European carrier mean well. They didn’t mean to come across as narrowed minded. Really. I’m sure they were just thinking of the comforts of their Asian passengers. I mean, after all, this was a flight going to Hong Kong, China!

So, food service begins. You have two choices: small rounds of beef steak with potatoes and creamed spinach, or Chinese noodles with Chicken. Here’s another rule I have when traveling: always choose the type of food that originates from the country. Since my flight was coming from Germany, I chose the beef dish and its sides. I cannot imagine Chinese noodles coming from Germany to be done as well as on Cathy Pacific flights.

The flight attendant tells me my two choices and asks me what I would like.
I tell her beef.
She looks at me, smiles, and also hands me a pair of chopsticks.
(Ok. So, for those who don’t know me. I am Asian. Now you know.)
(I was like, uh. Say-what? In my best Gary Coleman voice, “What you taking ’bout Willis?”)
I just looked at her and said, “Thank you. I am going to give this (the chopsticks) back to you and I will use the appropriate utensils for this meal.”

She seemed taken aback. She didn’t know what to do with the chopsticks. It was like no one has ever handed her chopsticks before! Inside though, I was laughing. LAUGHING!

I told some friends, (Caucasian and Asian friends) about it and they were appalled at the racism.
I thought it was funny. I mean, it is funny!

Now, just imagine if it were flipped. A non-Asian person who knows how to eat with chopsticks, but is handed a fork in a Chinese or Vietnamese restaurant?? See?? See how funny that is too?? You just have to laugh it off and tell the story anyhow. That’s why I wanted to share. (Just a side note, Thais don’t eat with  chopsticks unless it’s noodles in a bowl. Those Thai restaurants with chopsticks already on the table, are leading you astray. Thais eat with a folk (lefthand) and spoon (righthand) in a “shovel” action — fork pushes food onto spoon and spoonful of food goes to feed you.)

What did the person next to me do — remember, the guy who took away my bonus prize?
Well, he was also Asian and ordered the beef. He too got a pair of chopsticks, but he kept his chopsticks.
Like me, he used the knife and fork to eat his meal.

Did he use his chopsticks?
Yes. Yes, he did.
What did he use it for?

He used it to eat his dessert, German Apple crumb-cake!
Naturally!
(I can’t make this stuff up. It’s too hard to make up, Really!)

Are You Prepared?

I was on my way to San Francisco from Japan earlier this month on All Nippon Airways. Starting from Bangkok, I had a layover-plane change in Tokyo’s Narita airport. No biggie — I love Narita airport. It’s spacious and comforting at the same time. Plus, no matter where you are in Japan, you can count on the food being good.

Anyhoo. During mid-flight, I felt uncomfortable. (I apologize to any male readers now, but that doesn’t mean you should stop reading.) I discovered, that I had started my cycle early! I was thinking, this sucks. I didn’t have anything with me. I felt so unprepared. I felt so un-girlscout and utterly un-boyscout like for not preparing. Since the lady sitting next to me was talking about her three daughters earlier, I decided to ask her if she had something I could use. She looked at me with sympathy. Really. She had this “aw-shucks” look.

She says to me, “I’m pregnant right now. So, no. Sorry. I don’t have anything.” I told her congratulations! She was really sweet and rummaged through her bag anyway just to be sure. She suggested that I just ask the flight attendant instead. Yeah. Good idea!

I decided, I didn’t want to repeat what I was going to ask for out loud to the flight attendant. So, I wrote down, “Do you have a maxi-pad?”.

A young, Japanese flight attendant came by and I waved her down.
She stops and stands right next to my aisle seat.
I gave her my notebook.
She took it and reads it OUT LOUD, “DO YOU (she pauses) HAVE A (pauses again) MAXI-PAD?”
She looks at me and I am covering my face and peaking behind my hands.
She looks back at the notebook and she reads it AGAIN!!
But this time, a little more softly, but still out loud. “Do you (pause) have a (pause) Maxi-pad?”.
She looks at me again.
A few seconds passes (but they seemed like long-long-long seconds, which would make them minutes) and then her eyes lit up.
I’m thinking, she had an Oprah “A-ha” moment and says to me, “Oh YES! How many do you need? Five?”

I’m trying to make myself disappear and be as small as I possibly can be in my economy class chair and meekly hold up 2 fingers.
She came back with a whole pack.
“Thank you!” I say to her.
“Yes. We have some in the bathroom if you need more. It’s in a drawer.” She says to me.

All this time I’ve been traveling, I had no idea that planes carry such needful things for women.
Now I know. Thank you for being prepared for us! No, really! Thank you!