Saturday, December 10, 2011


I think I've gotten much better at fitting in in Hong Kong, I can mimic going through daily interaction in Cantonese, although most of the time I seem somewhat stunted. But still, better stunted than mute. I can navigate things a lot more than I used to be able to, and while I still don't have the nerve to pick out the live chickens they offer at the wet market, I have gone on to pick out fish. (Which they then smash on the head with a cleaver and de-scale it vigorously while it's still moving. It still makes me flinch.)
But I try my best to seem as cool as possible, particularly with food. When faced with unfamiliar things, headfirst, no questions. No asking for help. Perhaps I have a bit too much pride, I've been accused of that before, but I guess I just like feeling some dignity. With that motto, I've become a pork knuckle, intestine lining eating, rice bowl in my hand, crustacean snapping individual.

Anyway I went to a noodle shop with my guy's family a few weeks ago. It was like a hole in the wall type of place, with plastic utensils and a makeshift roof. We each had to pick out an order from the mysterious and unfamiliar items floating at the counter. I had no idea what to choose, but I didn't want to seem completely lost, so I looked at the menu board, and picked the simplest one. Noodles with only one item in it. Simple I thought and probably the best way to avoid anything strange. A7- I said in cantonese. confident. nonchalant. Yes, I belong here.

"Are you sure?" C was looking at me with a slightly puzzled look, as was his mother.
"Yes. I know what I want," I said. (Unfortunately, I may have said this in a slightly aggressive way - with an undertone of Don't patronize Me.)
I could tell he wanted to say something, but I tried to look as nonchalant as possible. He shrugged.

I ate confidently at the table, heartily and with vigor. I could tell the vibe was a little awkward but I didn't really understand the reason. His mother had gotten noodles with an all-included special, and she kept giving me items from her bowl,"Since you like it."
And I'd keep taking it, like "Oh thanks Aunty!"
I thought they both looked a little uncomfortable, slightly intrigued and disgusted. The way I felt when I first was handed a bowl of pork knuckle.

I finished the bowl, and felt good that I had made my point. And then I forgot about that day.

A week later, C mentions to me that his mother had been slightly freaked out by how enthusiastically I had eaten cow penis. She had wondered why it was the only thing I ordered, and whether all Koreans liked eating things like that.

So A-7 was noodles and cow penis.


Yesterday I slid down a flight of stairs on a sofa cushion. My 3 students (elementary school sisters)were clapping and shrieking as I achieved "flight." I would find out later that I was the experiment, they wanted to see if it was dangerous or not.

It made me wonder what I was doing.

I don't feel that way often, only every once in a while:
for example when a student asks me to explain the study guide "translations" of Shakespeare. (It turns things like "My hour is almost come / When I to sulfurous and tormenting flames / Must render up myself" to "My time is up, I must go back to hell. Horrible. Fire sucks."
and "How now" to "Hey you")
"Hey you? I don't get it..."
"It's a greeting."
" hey?"

Or when I get the occasional angry "rebel" attitude in a student.
"Yea, well you're just a tutor." snort.

I don't know why kids say things like that, they tend to look at me with triumph afterward. Like maybe they think it'll send me into a spiraling existential crisis, like a breakdown of "What DO I have to respond to that?" :claws self in despair: "Get me a sofa cushion.. i need to escape this place."

Most of the time I just blink as a response, with a polite, "Yes, that is correct." For once.
Or if I'm not feeling particularly generous I say something equally rude and then afterward as I walk home, I'll feel immature for not rising above the level of a snotty angsty hormonal teenager. "Yea, and you should tell your parents to stop paying me and save the money for that library they're going to have to donate to make sure you GET into a school."

sofa cushion.

Sometimes I feel like I am too attached to our dog. She sleeps with us, she eats when I eat, she shares beer with me, she waits in the bathroom while I shower. We converse. (And it's not just me, her papa shares wine with her in her food dish. Bordeaux for the dog - yes.)

It's like she's my daemon (recently re-read the series, so good).
Although maybe not a daemon, I've come to realize that she may not be as in tune with me as I thought. Once I sprained my ankle while we were walking. I was fallen on the sidewalk, I thought she'd stop and turn and intuitively know that somehow she'd have to heal me, but instead she kept going and I was dragged for a few feet before she turned, circled me, looked puzzled and finally stopped, only to defecate near my hand.
Truly a man's best friend.

I've been in denial that she's spoiled, until we took her to obedience school. It was so embarrassing.
She barked incessantly and jumped and ran and sprinted, snatched treats from the teacher, frantically joyful, while the other dogs cowered and hid behind their owners. She kept turning to look for my approval, but mostly I just wanted to hide.
The teacher kept asking survey questions about how we raised our dogs.
Does anyone here sleep with their dog in the room?
Does anyone here let their dog sit in their lap automatically?
Does anyone here let their dog jump on them when they first come into the house?

We stopped raising our hands eventually because it got too sad having to explain.

Monday, October 10, 2011

inigo montoya

To the coward who robbed our apartment and stole my engagement ring. Come back. I have a baseball bat I would like to acquaint you with.

Acquaint in the Biblical sense. And the typical Louisville slugger sense.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Last month I spent a week diving in Bali - it was the first time I really overcame my fear of water, I guess all the preparation of walking around with a mask of water on my head and mental exercises worked. It wasn't really the idea of dying that made me panic, but the idea of flailing and having to fight under the water, suffocating. "It takes 3 whole minutes to drown," my teacher said. Apparently he meant it as a reassurance. Helpful.

Our guides were very matter of fact, their favorite expression was "goodbye until the next life," which they'd say with a smile and a wave. "The currents are very strong today so watch us. Don't look at the big blue... otherwise good bye until the next life."
"Excuse me did you say life? until the next life?" And then they laughed at me, not realizing it was a serious question. "One minute you're there, and the next WHOOSH, you disappear into the big blue. Two weeks ago, one of the divers whoosh - he was gone. We just found him now." Initially I thought that story was a happy ending, but I had misinterpreted the meaning of "him" - him meant the diving gear.

With those words in mind as I was rolling backwards off the boat, I didn't feel like it would be a very promising experience. But the moment I managed to descend into the water, and there was no surface to be seen, being underwater felt so peaceful, almost right. It was completely serene.

I couldn't help looking into the "big blue," it was endless. The water was cold, and the guides were right, the currents were so strong that sometimes we were forced to hold onto the sticks of coral in an effort to keep from being pulled down into the depths.

By the 4th day, I was comfortable enough to go deeper and follow the leader looking for the mola-mola. When I first saw a picture of mola-mola I didn't realized fish like that actually existed. They're fish that are approximately the height of a house about 2-3 meters high, but completely flat, like a disc.

We reached 36 meters that day, it was 14 C (yes now I think in metric... I had that realization underwater and it was enough to make me panic. I was shivering and looking at my watch, wow 14 celsius how cold. Wait what I think in metric now? Gasp gasp. gasp...") And out of the blue there was this silent shadow. A giant fish silent, unblinking. We would see 5 on that dive, all of us with our arms crossed floating with a stream of bubbles in this cold water, facing an endless blue, and a giant mola-mola floating within a couple meters. (sigh meters).

I wish I had better language to explain the way it feels under the water, the complete peace. I remembered some fragment of some quote I once heard about the color blue, and how looking at it made the brain feel both happiness and sadness at the same time. It's an unusual color in that way.

But that's how I felt, the big blue - I felt wonder at how something could be so vast and endless. It didn't look like it had a beginning, to reach into it would be to reach for a color. And how is that possible? It was a calming thought, silent and free, a place without a beginning or an end.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

in flight.

As I've grown older, I realize that I hate flying.
It was a strange realization.
I used to love airplanes, the food, the view of the clouds, the excitement of the airport, standing in the arrivals gate. I used to visit the airport and sit at the arrivals gate because I liked seeing people reunite.

This time both my flights to the U.S. and coming back to Hong Kong were delayed. The first was delayed by two days, and coming back was delayed 5 hours. I sat on the floor at the chicago airport, my head pounding while people shouted in Cantonese (I know people say Korean is hard on the ears, but Cantonese sometimes sounds like braying animals to me). The seats seem smaller, my legs are cramped and pressed against the seat in front, I have the leg reach of a child so I don't see how normal people manage it. It's like we have to decompress and fold ourselves into the seats accordion style.

On the flight, the middle seat was empty which I thought would be a good thing. However, mid-flight, when I woke up, I noticed this strange blob right next to me. I didn't have my glasses on, so I kept patting it to try and figure it out. It was prickly yet fuzzy (an animal? a sweater? a suitcase?) until I realized I was patting a man's head. It was the middle aged man in the window seat who had kept asking me about robert pattinson (i guess he had a fascination with water for elephants.)
"hey uh what's this movie about."
"um they're training an elephant."
"oh... that's neat."
(10 minutes later) "tell me about the guy that's in this. he famous at all?"
"I suppose."
(5 minutes later) "he's that vampire right?
"Yes. I think so."
(during love scene) "they make a good looking couple don't they.. they got that necessary chemistry. you know these things don't work without chemistry."
"i guess."
"yea that type of chemistry is hard to find. hit or miss."
"well actually. they've been in a movie together before.
"oh no way.. well that makes sense, good chemistry."
"yea. he played her son in vanity fair."
end of conversation.

Anyway this pleasant man had thought it would be ok to lie down so that his head was practically in my lap.


Friday, August 5, 2011

third wheel

My parents have been married for 30 years. It wasn't until this summer that I realized that even after all this time they act like a honeymooning couple.
They still walk with their hands clasped in public; they sit on the same side of the table at restaurants; in the evenings, they spend hours talking to each other and laughing, my father always walks around the car to open the door for her; and every night even though he hates it, they take an hour long hike around the park.

My father works a few states away, but he flies back every Friday and always gets to the airport early in the morning so he can wait on stand-by. This is a person who refuses to step into a Starbucks because the background music is too loud and "heathenish."
I'd never thought of him as being particularly romantic, but I realized that was a really sweet gesture, and someone who truly loves his wife.

It's been disconcerting for me to feel like the third wheel, an over-grown awkward daughter. They actually forgot about me when we went out to dinner, I had gone to the bathroom, and when I came out, they were gone.
I called my mom from the hostess's phone in a semi-panic, what had happened, had something gone wrong? Medical emergency? No they'd just forgotten, paid the bill and left. They had laughed, hysterically... ha ha our kid? what kid?
And then I saw them walking back to the restaurant, slowly strolling hand in hand to come claim me.

I suppose it was cute.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

the following has been approved for..

My dreams have been so violent lately I wish they'd come with a guidance rating before they start. like hey tonight will be R, there'll be chainsaws and decapitations involved so get your mind glove on.
Tonight is pg-13, but R for emotional trauma - people are going to butcher your dog and you'll have to shoot and quarter them.
Tonight is NC-17, multiple decapitations, a face stabbing and some disturbing nudity.

(Speaking of ratings my friend and I got carded going into watch friends with benefits -yea chick flick - and rated R as it happens.
I didn't realize what was going on til after - I just thought the lady was trying to see id for my credit card, so I was offended when she quizzed me on what year I was born and how old did that make me.
I tend to get nervous being carded for any reason - even if it's legitimate like being questioned at the airport, so my reply was a stutter and it sparked an inner monologue and crisis of oh goodness how old am I? 22? 24? No 25.. like a quarter century but no that's still young very young age is a number, keats had written his poems by then, wait he was dying by then and uh "uh 25?"
This only made her more suspicious. But we got in and had a nice mindless two hours of chick flick fantasy, and it erased my momentary mental crisis.)

Anyway being trapped in dream space, thankfully there is still some cognition and power. I always end up taking control, even if it means chopping and slashing my way out, "ugh gosh I have to chainsaw you again?" "quartering? ugh why so old fashioned?" but I suppose that's a relief. I just wish there would be some beautiful dreams within the nightmares.
I showed my mother the movie Inception thinking she'd be amazed but she was profoundly unhappy that the "bad guys won"
"What? No he goes home to his kids."
"They were criminals."
"But that was a bad company they were turning to a monopoly."
"They manipulated that poor boy. I don't like stories where the bad guys win!"
And that was the major debate we had about the movie.
Not whether it was a dream or the top spinning at the end, which she said wasn't the point, "who cares he's a criminal! Dream or not hes a criminal in both!"
Oh. True I had never thought of it that way. As she said, I suppose I missed the point of the story.

If I had that sort of pragmatism/ resolve, I would probably never have bad dreams. They wouldn't dare to occur.

Friday, July 29, 2011

es muss sein

if my dissertation is a stone tied to my feet
time is the ocean rising.

ooh metaphor.

and i am holding the scissors staring at the rope
but instead of sawing away -
the hours pass and
i'm daydreaming
thinking of books
sitting in the sun
laughing at stephen colbert
going through my high school journals (that girl was funny)
writing about villains
watching vampires on my computer
running outside on the track (even that)

and i can't help but think of procrastination in the context of Se7en (i know this is an old movie, but I just saw it recently). which leads to more mind maps of punishments and fears of self-drowning, goldfish and impotent villains, and thinking of kevin spacey which leads to thinking of brunch - because i saw him at brunch once, he was with a male model, and i was surprised because i was thinking of american beauty and then the plastic bag scene and ordinary-ness, and then i think of summer days in new york and music and the park in the evening, mint mojitos, and the old men who play chess, and ...

all roads lead everywhere but to my thesis.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I played violin for my mom's church on Sunday. It's very beautiful, a simple wooden church with arching rafters and ceiling high windows with a view of this forest of oak and pine tree. It's an anglican church, so the service is always very proper with ritual and silk cloth and little white paper-thin wafers during communion.

I usually play each time I come back, because most people there never get to hear music in person, and mostly because I know it's one thing I do that I can count on making my mother happy. The structure of the church is perfect for acoustics, and I'd attempted to practice so that morning even to me, each note sounded like it was on a wing. It was like the sound was yearning for the pine trees outside, as though it was reaching for the gravestones in the garden.

Afterward, people came to talk to me, some shook my hand, some were crying. They told me how they'd heard the song at a wedding, or how it reminded them of the past.
An old man held my hand and asked me solemnly if I would play at his funeral (His tone was as though he were asking me to get married, or go spend a day picnicking. My response was an awkward laugh / misplaced guffaw - which was probably the wrong reaction.)

One woman said it was her and her husband's favorite. "I'm sorry he couldn't have heard it in person today."
Tactless me: "Oh that's too bad why not? Tell him he should come next time!"
Her: "Oh honey, he's always listening, but... he passed on some years now."

I know I should have felt some kind of happiness or maybe some accomplishment, but mostly I felt like a fraud. I know I used to have talent, but I had mediocre effort - and I was just skating by on some former learned technique and acoustics, nothing extraordinary.
They assumed I was studying music or playing all the time - when in actuality, I didn't feel like admitting I'd quit years ago before I really got anywhere with it. Then they asked about school and what I study, and how I was probably all set to be a lawyer - when in actuality, I was/am horrible at law school, and if I could have, I would have quit that as well. And that I've had a dissertation to write that I've put off for months.

I'm not trying to be a severe self-critic or revel in emo-pity, 'oh the rain how it mirrors my tears' but in those moments I realized that there is so much room for giving and improving the world, doing something wondrous. A simple song like that could create such an echo, such meaning. And I've been living with no effort, like I'm just trying to get by, only a step above quitting. Self-contained and self-involved with no echo.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Eaten at chipotle: 1 (day 1 actually)
Gone to the gym: 2
Days spent unable to bend legs: 4 and counting (I fell up a set of stairs due to non-bending)
Attended church: 1 (and felt very out of place)
Harry Potter books read: 4
Harry Potter movie seen: 1 (Sobbed over Snape, who knew he would be the true romantic hero of the series)
Moments spent tempted to name a child Severus: too many
Math textbooks read: 0 (I did try - but Deathly Hallows was more interesting)
Alcohol quantities: 1 inch depth (is that called 1 cubic inch?) of wine, 1 spoon of Kentucky bourbon in my coffee
Pages of dissertation written: 0
Days spent thinking about dissertation: daily (the anxiety comes and goes)

Begged out of not going to the track to run laps
: daily (jetlag is the very legitimate excuse)
Watched TED talks: daily
Practiced violin: daily
Missed air conditioning: daily
Felt incredibly wholesome: daily

Monday, July 18, 2011


In attempt to be healthy, I agreed to go to the gym with my brother. Well actually, I forced him to take me, and somehow persuaded him to act as a trainer.
The result was 2 hours of being reduced to hysterical laughter (apparently I laugh when I'm frustrated) and muscle pain.

My brother doesn't believe in cardio, at least not on a treadmill (I didn't bother bringing up elliptical because that would have only earned me a look of extreme disdain) - only weight circuits, so that's what I did.
I used to think I was pretty strong for "a girl", I hate that expression... but apparently I'm not even that. To my trainer's frustration, I couldn't lift my body weight, I couldn't hang from the pull-up bar, much less pull myself up, and I had to keep asking for less repetitions. Asking for less only resulted in more repetitions.
He kept telling me that it was all mental; he ignored any crying or laughing "what's so funny?" :frown: and when I told him I really was going to drop the weight bar so HELP, he only walked away, which did force me to lift the bar back up so that I wouldn't be crushed to death. It was effective teaching I guess.
Overall I learned that sibling disapproval is a very motivating thing.

Also during my absence from the states, my parents have apparently become NRA supporters. While they've been members of the NRA since we were kids, now there's an NRA sticker on the car, and my father wears an NRA hat. They also told me about bills the NRA has successfully lobbied. When I mentioned the bill about concealed weapons on college campuses, they said it sounded like a wise idea.
cue speechless confusion.
I still don't know what to say about all this, it's too surreal, but last night I dreamt of revolvers and shotguns. I think my brain is still processing it.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


After a 2 day flight delay and layover, I am finally back in the U.S.

It was embarrassing, I ended up saying bye to the dog and home a total of 3 times. The first time, I made a big hoopla about it, dramatically hugging my dog and cooking an elaborate meal (attempted to), and doing the whole drive to the airport, wave at the security gate thing. I then sat on the plane for 3 hours before they told us that the flight was delayed til the next morning.
So I sheepishly went back home, the dog was confused and then the next morning, went to check-in only to be told that the flight had been moved to that evening.
Went back home, dog was even more confused, and then the 3rd and final goodbye, the ride to the airport felt very deja vu. By then, I think everyone involved was just ready for me to leave. Elongated good-byes are so anti-climactic.
Parting is only sweet sorrow - if the parting happens quickly.

My layover was in Chicago, we were given the night to spend at an airport hotel. I'd never stayed in a hotel by myself before, and the whole experience felt surreal and falsely grown-up. I feel like I always read about strange things happen in airport hotels. And I had dreams of myself disappearing and no one knowing where I'd gone. "She was last seen at the O'Hare hotel."

Being back in virginia feels familiar and uncomfortable at the same time. It's like I'm in middle school, I can't really identify the feeling. It's feels as though there's a pressure in my skull, but I think that's also because my parents don't believe in air conditioning. (That sounds very spoiled, but honestly sometimes it feels like time is stagnant from the heat.)

I've realized that being in the U.S. is so much more 'interactive'. In Hong Kong, people try to pretend that others don't exist. If you fall or you brush into someone else, there is no eye contact, and people just move on their way. Here, everyone seems to have comments about things, I felt like I've had a dozen mini conversations with people, when I just realized it was only interaction. strange.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

deep water

I've been trying to finish my diving license. I never finished the one I started a couple years ago, because of my failure to pass the basic exams.
Apparently for an upcoming trip, it's best if I'm also an "advanced" diver, so I figured I should make the first step and get my basic license first.

The reason I failed last time was that I couldn't "clear my mask". Clearing a mask requires you to fill up the mask with water, and then somehow use air pressure to snort it out.
I didn't really understand the physics principle of it, and each time I'd end up gulping a huge maskful of water and then gasping and coughing my way to the surface.
It's even worse with the second step of the test, which requires you to take off the mask and then swim around and put it back on. I never got the chance to swim, the moment I took off the mask I'd start inhaling water.
The instructor tried to act like it was all right, but after 30 minutes of this, he stopped me. I think he was worried he was going to have a student drown herself in the 5 foot pool.

So last week, in the days before my training, I practiced walking around the apartment with a mask filled with water, breathing only out of the snorkel. It took some time, and I wondered if I could become the only person to drown above water.

I'm not sure why I am so afraid of water. It's not the thought of dying that scares me, but rather the moments of panicked breathing, coughs and gulps of water and lack of oxygen. I heard that babies are natural swimmers, and that there is a class where parents will take the newborn infant and drop them into the pool, but catching them right before they hit the water. Apparently this erases any fear of water and creates a life-long love of it. I wish my parents had signed up for that one.

After getting over the initial fear, and acing the mask clearing tests (walking around with the fish tank over my head was helpful!), there was something calming about being underwater beyond the fear... it felt peaceful. Free.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

spin spin

I have a new student, he's 12. Our lessons are early in the morning because apparently that's when he concentrates best.

Student is twirling in the spinning chair. spin spin spin spin spin..
I keep talking about grammar like I don't notice that I'm talking to a revolving head.
Every once in a while I will say something which makes him stop spinning.
"So if the sentence is My son is interesting, that's a linking verb which is -"
"You have a son?"
"Oh." spin spin spin spin spin "Good cause that would be weird."
"How old are you?"
"Well technically I'm old enough I could be your mom."
"OH. ew that's old." spin spin spin spin spin.

Sometimes he turns his chair to frantically scratch his crotch with a long comb for an uncomfortable number of seconds. I suppose his theory being that if he can't see me I can't see him. theory disproved.

And then every once in awhile, he tries hypnotism tricks on me. He imitates that British guy on youtube who does those mind games like paying with paper money and persuading people to hand him their wallet and keys.
Unfortunately for him, I've also seen it.

"So an example of a declarative sentence?"
"Give me your wallet."
"That's not a declarative but... oh."

That's when I realized the rest of the lesson would follow the format of youtube clip #1.

would be hypnotist: "I want you to think of a word. Wait no, I'm supposed to show you a card first so don't don't think of one! Are you thinking of one?!"
"No no don't worry."
"Uhh I'm going to flash this card at you and THEN you are going to think of a word."
"Oh I already know it.. the word is apple."
amazement. "How did you do that? You didn't even see the card!"
point for teacher.

"I want you to think of a blank television screen, now look at this word closely, and think of a c-"
"3 of diamonds."
"whoaaa i haven't even finished yet. how did you do that? You must have crazy Extra perception."

I know it's kind of cheating, but at least it has gained me temporary respect.

Friday, June 24, 2011

le nouveau

My grandfather is a missionary, and he used to say that the most successful way to become part of another's culture is to share their food. (Although he said this in a slightly racist, ambiguously offensive way.) It surprised me as he's someone who won't eat cereal because it is too Western. But his friends would describe my grandfather smiling peacefully in an African desert, gracefully eating anything that was offered, the only one to drink from a jar that was dug out of the ground and looked like it hadn't been opened in years (they found out afterward that was a close approximation). Apparently he was the one everyone remembered years afterward.

I've always admired that quality. I remember the anger and embarrassment I used to feel when my parents had guests over. The kids would whine and stage whisper to their parents whether it was ok they didn't eat something.
"well just try it! it's something new. No I don't know what it is, but just eat it!" And my mother would politely show them the pizza she'd already heated up just in case. Even the adults would poke at the dishes as though it were an alien thing, refusing the japchae glass noodles that my mother had taken all day to prepare. Someone once exclaimed that something had rotted in the refrigerator, only to blush when it became obvious that it was the jar of kimchi cabbage on the bottom shelf.
Actually thinking back, I'm not sure why we had guests over so often anyway, but I guess oblivious persistence is my parents' virtue.

I was determined not to make the mistake when I was first invited to eat with the namja's family. I felt like Belle in the scene of Beauty and the Beast with the prancing dishes and plates. Except the dishes prancing in front of me were of fish intestines, marinated chicken feet with minced vegetables, congealed blood with beef intestines. Pork knuckles and fermented beans, beef tongue, stomach lining, fish liver in steamed egg.
They politely declined eating anything, and instead watched as I finished all the dishes, including an extra dish of beef tongue.
The crowning dish was a platter-sized bread stuffed with all the leftover dinner items mixed into one. The waiter smiled when he set it in front of me, a wobbling meat tower the size of my head, which I managed to finish three quarters of before giving up.
I found out afterward that the dishes weren't usual ones; I suppose it was a kind of test and also a slight form of amusement.

It's been many months since then, but as I still don't understand enough Chinese to contribute to a conversation, my role is to sit and eat with healthy enthusiasm. It's a challenge, if I ever place my chopsticks down, I get a concerned look.
Passing food is a form of love and respect, and to refuse is impossible, so I end up being the one to eat most of the dishes.
The last piece of intestine, please give to her.
no no it's ok, please take it... oh ok thank you thank you.

I suppose it's better than the Korean way, in which the challenge is to drink as much alcohol as is presented.
Why is your glass not empty?
Because once I drink it you will just fill it again.
and the question will repeat once more. paradoxical.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

rainy days.

I joke that my dog is my only friend, which like all jokes is only funny because it is partially true.

It's been starting to concern my mother. She has this vision of me turning into a woman with a semi-moustache wearing pleated trousers and raising a posse of hounds, or an eccentric who clothes her dog and takes it to the spa. Both visions are childless spinsters of course. It has led to several serious conversations that "dogs are no replacement for children."

I only thought of this because today I was taking the dog on a walk and it looked like it was about to rain.
"Hey I'm sorry I think it's going to rain.." and she looked at me.
"You don't want to get your feet wet do you?" :look:
"Yea well you don't mind but I do. We can walk more next time, I promise!"
And she seemed to shrug and we turned around.

So now we are conversing.

I realized that my mind has regressed. It's a depressing thought, to realize that I'm never thinking or learning anything new. I think the main cause is the internet. The internet and pop culture have taken over my brain, a stream of particle facts crammed through me. Do I really need to check the news every hour? Every 15 minutes? Does it matter what snarky comment someone is going to post on such and such forum, or how a critic views the latest episode of something? I recognized something was very wrong when I realized I knew every contestant on american idol, but I'd never actually heard them sing. I was just reading the recaps. hah it's like being in the matrix.

I suppose I need a filter.

There's a girl I see sometimes near our apartment, I think she must work in one of the buildings near by. She only has one leg, and she walks with crutches that strap in at the wrists. The amazing thing is that the only reason I first noticed her was because of her outfit and how put together she looked. It was winter and freezing cold, but she had on a dress. Her hair was perfectly blown out, she had make-up on, accessories, vest, jacket, and was even wearing heels with a fur trim sock. (that's when I realized it was *a heel*) I then started seeing her every few days, each time in another accessorized outfit and high heel, walking all the way to the bus stop.

I sometimes saw her on the bus, each time she stood, she never pushed for a seat, even as able-bodied people were shoving each other to sit down first. She looked so calm and balanced that I don't think people realized she was on crutches... with a high heel! It was impressive.

It made me feel slightly ashamed for looking like such a slob. Each time I happened to see her, I looked like I was escaping some disaster zone, unbrushed hair, bundled in some unfortunate man's sweatshirt or hoodie, loose jeans and converses, my books crammed into a shopping bag. As my mother would say "how rude" of me to force my sloppiness on the public, "Are you a man or woman? Please decide."

After a hiatus, I saw the girl again the other day. It was so hot I felt like I was melting onto the sidewalk. I was in flipflops, shorts, a shapeless t-shirt. And there she was, briskly walking, blown out hair, in a fresh lemon yellow dress with a tiny sweater and platform sandal. She didn't even look like she was sweating.


A girl came to dinner in a shirt that proclaimed in huge letters: I AM NOT A LABEL WHORE!
While also wearing:

Louis vuitton monogram bracelet.
Chanel handbag.

It made me laugh. What a whore. Joking...

It's the occasional attitude I come across in Hong Kong which irritates me and leaves me with a metallic taste in my mouth.
I've heard it too many times, people describing their family as "working class."
While there is a live in maid and several namebrand sports cars sitting in the garage.

Well. Working class are people who work in factory towns and support families on minimum wage, and even they would probably be offended at the classification.
Being employed and working for a living does not equal working class... at least not since the 18th century English concept of the 'gentry', when people had money and property entailed on them. "Oh my dear, Sir soandso is working class! Why don't you know his father was a merchant! They actually WORK for their living!" :shock:

The gentry speech only works so well, the reaction is usually that I'm being a judgmental american snob. well yes I suppose so, but at least I'm not being a hypocrite.

The last time I had to say this was to my student who is preparing to apply to college in the U.S. Like most international students I teach, she has always had a live-in family maid who does her laundry, folds her clothes, washes the dishes, makes her bed, walks their 4 dogs. Her 12 year old sister and 4 year old brother both have ipads and macbooks (their school has made macbooks mandatory). The family doesn't have a driver, but she does have a car which her dad gave to her for getting As and Bs on her semester exams. They go skiing in the Alps every year, and she spends her summers volunteering and trekking places like Africa and Asia. She has a team of tutors, including myself who are paid by the hour to make sure she has an edge in school.

She's a really nice girl, and like most of my students, surprisingly very grounded. (I don't think that I would have been in that situation). But in this bubble, that lifestyle is the norm, and it never occurs to them to feel any awkward privilege.
So I knew she was being completely earnest when she told me her choice of college essay was about understanding others' struggles. She cited her experiences as a volunteer at an orphanage in Southeast Asia. It was well-written, sensitive, full of empathy, just completely unaware.

"We had helped build the roof of a school, and I thought about how lucky I was to live a normal life.


ending lines: "I waved to the children as we got on the bus for the hour long ride back to the hotel. They had taught me so much."

"As a daughter of a working class family in hong kong..."

cue: speech on the gentry.

I know this all sounds very negative. It's just that for all the things I like about hong kong, there is a current underneath it which makes me feel hollow. It's like a discordant note in a harmony I can't exactly pinpoint, and whenever I try to it makes me sound bitter.

It's better just to laugh.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


The past weekend my cousin invited me to chaperone his daughter's 7th birthday party. They rented a party room and hired a magician. And since it was a Korean party, there was a huge table of Korean food, gossiping mothers comparing their children, and only a sole father who showed up (my cousin). Apparently Korean fathers don't do child birthdays.

There were about 30 kids, a few Chinese and Indian kids came too, so it was a mix of yelled korean, english and chinese. It was a wild afternoon. I spent a good hour blowing up balloons and tying knots in balloons for kids who would proudly hand me the balloons they'd blown covered in slobber. It was a good way to get over my balloon phobia. I've always had a fear of balloons being popped. I hate the sound the rubber makes when it's being stretched, and a popping balloon always makes me scream. I heard before that balloon popping is actually a fetish, I once watched this video of a woman rolling around on the floor with a giant balloon and she'd giggle like crazy when it finally popped. Do not understand.

I witnessed at least 3 broken friendships (all were promptly forgotten in about 5 minutes).
Sobbing girl in frilly socks.
"They don't like my dress. They don't think I'm their friend I'm going to sit in the corner."
"Did you guys tell her you didn't like her dress?"
"Ok, so she can sit with you guys right?"
In a serious tone. "Well, she's our enemy."
sobbing girl cries even harder.
poutpout. 5 minutes later, they're giggling again and sharing cake.
Apparently they'd just learned the word 'enemy' in school, which made me wonder, once the word is learned then is the feeling learned as well?

I forgot how easy it is to have fun when you're a kid, there's just so much to do and see, you always run, no time to walk. One game was running onto a couch and then jumping back off it. Again and again. And then I was dragged by a crowd of girls into the bathroom where they giggled hysterically and danced in front of those funfair mirrors that make you look really squat.

The magician was an entertaining Cuban man who managed to hold their attention for an hour and a half. The kids were amazed, and I thought it was really charming and cute how a middle-aged man was dancing the limbo with kids, until he kind of ruined it afterward by asking for my number in front of my cousin and disapproving korean mothers. Then he handed me a business card after dramatically lighting his wallet on fire. yes fire in my heart.

glass bottles

If I had to characterize my relationship with alcohol, it would probably be like the one between Smeagol and Gollum. A false beckoning friend, that pretends to be a comforting hand on the back, but is actually twisting your insides and freeing feelings of self-hate. It's like the scenes in the second movie, when he's crouched in the dark rocking back and forth, "smeagoll.... smeagolll." Ok that sounds dramatic even to me HA. "I told you he was tricksy..."

My family never drank much, when we were kids, my parents would split a beer with us on Fridays. Meaning, a can of beer poured and split four ways, anymore than that and they swore they felt too dizzy.
So I don't know where the fascination comes from, although my mother told me that when I was little she would push my stroller around the ABC store to look at all the glass bottles, which apparently I loved. (Proof that the south needs more places for amusement.)

Maybe it's the ritual of drinking that is so comforting. It's the sound of whiskey being poured, and the amber color of cognac on ice, and the way red wine feels luxurious and heady on the tongue. It's even true for the rubbing alcohol smell of soju. The look of the green glass bottles, and the sound of clinking soju shotglasses, even how cute the brand names are, like "chu-eum", meaning "first time".

It's been some time since I've felt comfort rather than escape, and I haven't forgotten that the alluring sense of freedom that is waiting on the other side is a false one. That the splendid banquet is a lure, there is only a sleeping creature with eyes in its hands waiting to devour you.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

summer lists

il volo
This past month, I've constantly been listening to an italian pop-opera (pop-era?) group called Il Volo. If you've never seen them, they look like very fashionable hobbits (not meant to be an insult, hobbits are adorable.. and I couldn't think of any other way to describe their adorableness), but they sing with these powerful voices. They're also 16, which always slightly disturbs me as their repertoire is seductive love songs, but anyway, yes the voices are otherworldly (click link above and prepare for amazement)

classics. I have been trying to read more classics, mostly because they're the only free e-books I can read on my phone. Some of them I don't understand at all (yay english degree), I think I only got through a few chapters of War and Peace. But Vanity Fair was actually very suspenseful and entertaining.

man vs wild. I know some criticize him as a gimmick, but watching the earnestness and devotion he demonstrates, I can't help but admire him. He just ... tries so hard. My reaction is usually awe and then hysterical laughter. I don't know why, the show makes me laugh harder than anything else.

game of thrones. I read the books a few months ago, before I found out about the hbo series. Starring boromir! Anyway, while I can appreciate the story and the writing, I do think the author has a sadistic streak. He enjoys torturing and manipulating his characters and readers. I watched the most recent episode and I understood the commenters who said they wouldn't watch anymore, I felt the same way when I read the first book. But like most abusive relationships, I went back in anyway. By the time I got to the third book, I chucked my phone across the room in anger (I was about to stomp on it, before I remembered it wasn't a book, it was my phone).

Summers in hong kong are so humid, stepping outside can feel like walking through water. Girls here don't seem to feel heat. In 90% humidity, girls are wearing tights and leggings. Some wear boots with pleather leggings, and sweaters. Sweaters? It makes me feel like I'm missing something, some ability. It's like when I see girls who walk long distances in high heels or the girls in Korea who wear short skirts when it's snowing. how?

pistachio ice cream.
never let me go. both the novel and the film - life changing.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

to be awake

When I was in high school I went through a phase where I was obsessed with Henry David Thoreau. I think most adolescents go through phases of obsession, and it wasn't like I was as obsessive as that girl in the 10 things I hate about you movie where she thinks she's going to the prom with Shakespeare. (That portrayal was a bit startling.)
It was more realistic, I read passages from Walden every day, and re-wrote lines that I thought were very inspiring into a notebook. Although it ended up I was basically copying it out.

It didn't matter that his experiment in natural isolation was basically in his mother's backyard, or that his last words were "Moose." and "Indian." Everything he wrote seemed beautiful and true. It was enough to make you want to throw out all your possessions and clear the dust from the "recesses of your mind." I suppose it could be a partial explanation for my general anti-social attitude, "Ah I have never found a companion so companionable as solitude!" right.

Even though the Thoreau phase passed, I think next up was John Donne, and then after him V. Mortensen in LOTR, I still think about Thoreau from time to time. Especially because in Hong Kong I feel like I've lost any connection to nature or the life that's free of possessions that he's talking about. I can go weeks without feeling like I'm stepping on the ground, or actually seeing a clear view of the sky. It feels artificial, and although I love the city, sometimes with all the lights, I feel like I'm like Winston in 1984 in the room where it is never dark.

The other night after a lesson I stepped outside and was hit by a familiar wondrous smell. I know how people say smells are kind of like immediate time travel, but I have such a poor sense of smell I never really understood what that meant. It was like I was a kid again, we were playing little house on the prairie, building bonfires until it was dark. I was walking around this fancy luxury apartment complex, trying to figure out the source, trying to remember exactly what the smell was.. so joyous! it was fresh grass! it was cut trees! it was days spent horseback riding at a barn on the edge of town, and just before I was going to take off my sandals and walk barefoot on true ground as Thoreau would have wanted, I realized what it was that I was smelling.

It was manure.
I was smelling fertilizer.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I made the accidental discovery that a circuitous route that I've been taking to a cafe (about 20 minutes) could actually have been made in about 5. This entire past year I've been making a long roundabout path to a coffee shop that has always been around the corner from where I live. sigh. I'm not really sure how I didn't realize this.

The discovery was completely accidental in that I had gotten lost off the wrong bus stop and then happened upon the same street as the cafe. It was a "how did that happen?" "Did I just tesser?" It was like I was in the unfoldable world in Inception, except that I was not the 'architect'.

It's part of the reason why I was never a very good driver. I only memorized routes going from point A to point B. House to restaurant. House to supermarket. But if I had to drive from restaurant to supermarket, or something even crazier like supermarket to library, then I'd have to drive back to house and then start from there.

It makes me sympathize with those lab rats that are stuck in mazes. The ones that are supposed to get smarter each time so they run through the maze faster, find more efficient routes or they get electro-shocked. If I were a rat, I would be electro-shocked to death, hrm point A to point B...

So now I've decided to wander on purpose. In one day I found that almost every route I've been taking is basically a path that takes a wide circle around my destination. why.

Monday, June 6, 2011


The past weekend was surprisingly sporty. Well as close to being sporty as possible for me.
I think subconsciously it was a result from a conversation I had with my mother earlier in the week. She was telling me that she was frustrated because her daily gym class had been too difficult.
"How so?"
"They made us run outdoors."
"Oh your first time running?" (While my mother is good at kickboxing or generally aggressive things, her definition of running is limited to the ajumma style - which is fast walking with rhythmically swinging arms.)
"Yes..." :dejected sigh: "We ran 6 miles. I felt so tired."
"6 miles?!"
Oh. :dejected sigh: An innocent conversation always turns into a lesson in feeling inadequate. I didn't want to tell her that the most I'd ever ran was prob 5 kilometers.. and it was on a treadmill. and by accident. I'd been watching a particularly enthralling episode of CSI so I'd forgotten to fast-forward the lab scene parts.

So with new motivation, this past weekend I took my dog "hiking" up a mountain in hong kong. It was more of a walk than a hike, as the path was paved in concrete. The majority of walkers are elderly couples, they walk with sunhats and visors, armed with these long extending walking sticks which they tend to swing like weapons. They walk very briskly and with an impressive energy. The other group of walkers walk at a more leisurely pace, smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee while breathing in the 'fresh' air. But if you can ignore the sharp walking sticks and smell of smoke and people posing for pictures while walking, for a moment it actually feels like being part of nature.

Afterward I took my dog to an outdoor cafe, where we were promptly ostracized by the rest of the dog walking community. Most dogs lie politely on the ground, next to their owners' feet. Mine refused to sit anywhere except on my lap with her head on my shoulder. After all the disgusted looks and not wanting to seem like an obsessed dog lady, I tried to place her on the ground, "WHY won't you stay down there?!" Each time she'd only somehow climb up my leg back onto my shoulders, clinging on koala bear style. It made eating or moving very difficult. Sometimes she'd move a little, but it was only to try to snatch food from my plate. Embarrassing.

The next day I went kayaking for the first time in hong kong. It was the first time kayaking in the ocean, I'd only ever kayaked in rivers before. We kayaked for a couple hours in a beautiful part of the ocean, to several sandbars and islands and eventually laid out on some rocks. It was amazingly peaceful and just a reminder of how beautiful hong kong can be. I'd brought a paper bag lunch which I'd forgotten and left on shore, but thankfully we hadn't forgotten the essentials - wine. yay for priorities.
And I am no longer the color of florescent lighting, so that in itself was an achievement.

favorite image - in a coffee shop, a very proper looking man in a business suit and white hair was tapping his feet and bobbing his head to the S&M song by Rihanna. "Feels so good being bad blahblahblah..." I think then he heard the lyrics, because by the time it got to "But chains and whips excite meee" he immediately stopped and glanced around to make sure no one had noticed.

That same song was also my 13 year old student's ringtone... I was initially disturbed, but I think her parents thought it was a song about self-worth and kindness to others. I'd asked her mother about it, and she said she knew the message. "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."
Right.. Could be.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

like a translation

One of my middle school students told me that they had just started a unit on Shakespeare. She goes to an American system school. They were going to read Romeo and Juliet.
Initially I thought great finally on par, another middle schooler student of mine who goes to a British system school was doing Romeo and Juliet as well.

She told me that they'd read the play for the first time in class.
All in one day? I asked.
And then she showed me "the play". It was entitled Romeo and Juliet at the Mall.

The opening line, "Two households alike in dignity" had been turned to "Like this is totally a sad story."
I wish I were joking.

The story continued with "and then the characters had these geeky names like Tybalt and Benvolio... not cool ones like J.Lo or Ke$ha."
"And then her nurse pulled Juliet away and totally freaked out because she was kissing some guy."
"And then the chick Juliet was like hello where are you Romeo?"
"And he was like hey hello I'm standing right underneath your balcony."
"Tybalt didn't know they were married but he should have been happy because he totally got out of buying a wedding gift... and then Mercutio was like 'screw both your houses.'"

Like no way and then they die at the end? Uncool.

While she's reading Romeo and Juliet are like dying at Verona Mall, the British school system middle schooler is reading the actual text of Romeo and Juliet and then moving on to Macbeth. They do have one "fun" project which is to do an illustrated research paper on Shakespeare and the Elizabethan era.

This American system middle schooler's project is to construct a paper mache representation of the Globe. They are also supposed to create a talk show interview between Queen Elizabeth and Shakespeare.

"You know this isn't the real version of Romeo and Juliet right" (just in case.)
"Yea I know, but it's a modern translation."
"NO.. no it is not. At all!"
She shrugged.
"We are going to read the real text ok? Two houses alike in dignity yes? I want you to understand the language, the imagery, the..."

anti gravity

Hong Kong advertisements are never subtle. There are dozens of billboards and posters pasted around the subway station, on street corners. Most are aimed at women. The most common are posters for weight loss, they show a slightly pudgy girl with a downcast expression. They even print her weight, before 55 kg and then after, blown up to life-size is the same girl at 49 kg! wearing a bikini and a radiant smile.

There are posters for cleavage enhancers, skin brighteners, facial reconstruction. The least subtle are the bra ads. The message of the bra ads is quite clear: padding. Revolutionary padding that is probably manufactured in the same factory as the shoulder pads that go into a football uniform. It is a mentality that also extends to swim suits, which have hard cone padded inserts that could provide floatation.

Anyway, there are even bras that have a sling that actually fits under the chest, pushing it upward, then it has these compression things that come in from the sides to push the bust together. Something out of nothing. It defies physics. The brands have names like Voila! Illusion! Triumph!

Triumph! I cannot breathe but I have created the semblance of a figure! The model's arms are raised like an olympic gymnast who has just stuck the landing. It sounds a lot like the method that I once read was used on Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind. The producers taped her chest together to create a figure worthy of a southern belle. Apparently it cut off her circulation. Triumph!

At the risk of sounding like a shrill commentator, I wonder if Clark Gable should have had his own attempt at triumph. Some sort of anti-gravitational compressing insert/sling to make him look like he could properly fill out those tight pants of his.
Maybe I should invent one of those.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

the radio said

If the world were to end tomorrow
I would eat a tray of oysters
Drink vodka with extra olives and vermouth
Paint my nails a red too bright.

I would chase away all mean thoughts with a big stick and
only let the bright ones in.
I would have no cruel words only kind ones.

I would listen to opera even though I don't understand the words
I would take deep breaths and watch the clouds swing past

I would watch the night parade and stars
I would hold the one I love
Hear the universe in his breath
And we would dream in color

If tomorrow the world ends.

It sounds like such an extraordinary thing, an announcement meant to cause fear and awe. When actually every tomorrow is a possible end.
I don't know why it's so easy to forget this. I only remember it in the off-moments, the hush before something begins.. the pause before the light is turned off, the moment before the water starts in the shower, and then I panic until I can forget again.

Maybe we are trained to forget, so that we don't live everyday with a frantic necessity, it would drive the world into chaos. Instead we keep our heads down and worry about the grocery bill, the cost of oil, what new things to buy.. anything to distract and cushion us from the truth.
Because the truth is harsh and it is as unforgiving as it is unknown
There will be an end, whether or not we dream in color.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

oh insight

12 year old student:"what is that?" She's pointing at a spot on my face courtesy of exam week and sleep deprivation.
Yay observational skills.

"It's a sign of wisdom why you want one?"

"Oh... no."

"No it's just from stress.. actually it happens in adolescence."

"Aren't you kind of old?"
"It's stress."

"From what?"

"From you. Keep reading!"

"Ugh I hate english it's so boring. I'm bored."

"People used to say only boring people get bored."
( great now I'm quoting my mother)

"Oh I like that quote.. I'm going to remember it."
Oh good.

"I'm never going to use this vocabulary... it's so useless."

Hm. "Justin bieber holds a certain Allure. When he has a concert there is Pandemonium. He has a huge Ego. If he wants to be Incognito he should use an Alias."

:Speechless: i'm guessing from awe. Or possibly horror at her idol being associated with vocab words.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


For my 25th, we went to an Italian restaurant, one of those nice ones with waiters in bow ties, place settings and 10 different types of forks. It was a place with white tablecloths and napkins, a sure sign of elegance, as my godmother would say "real fancy. White? My goodness do they trust their customers!" Of course restaurants like that wouldn't say "customers" they wouldn't say "restaurant" they'd prefer "dining experience". The menu descriptions read like odes "angel hair capellini essence of white asparagus" "reductions" and things that are "foam". The appetizers were announced as "medallions of melon with sea salt and carrot sea foam," which then arrived as a button size cucumber slice with orange fizz on it.

I think growing up in a small itown it's hard to be discerning about food. Food was hearty, quantity is king, why be refined as long as it tastes good? Italian meant fazolis or olive garden. Steak was a slab of nuked beef with gravy or maybe even breaded. Asian meant Chinese - general tso's or orange chicken (although it's mandarin orange). Cheese was either orange Kraft slices or the powdered kind, nothing fermented or god forbid moldy. And anything slightly foreign was viewed with suspicion. It may not be like this now, but it was back then.

I remember the first time eating sushi it was a revelatory experience, although I could say the same about pancakes. So I don't know that unrefined palate is something so wrong.
I think my introduction to 'higher' dining was from my grandfather, a minister who has a taste for earthly luxury. He shook his finger at me when I stuttered over how a steak should be done -um well? "No! Rare! It should bleed on the plate!" And then he showed me by poking his with his finger til there were trails of blood.
he was convinced my parents were raising me as a non lady - and decided to drag me out to eat "refined things" although that was hard to find in our town. I think as a concession we drove an hour to a red lobster.

And then in new York almost everyone was a foodie. It was something to be discussed, to have a opinion about. Food was fetishized, almost worshipped. I didn't really understand the crowds of people who would line up everyday for the sushi or the oyster bar next door (until I tried the lobster roll once - I started to believe).

I remember ordering a bottle of wine and when the waiter poured like a half cm I wondered why he was being so stingy. And then being told to "try" it? Uh OK.
Although note it is important to pay attention to the ceremony of the waiter presenting the wine and asking you to try -it would have saved me a lot of shock / embarrassment / money when a few years ago I accidentally ordered a half bottle of Lafite from the 1950s. We merrily downed it wondering why there was so much sediment stuff, and a tiny voice in my head wondered whether the waiter had really said 1956? That sounded old.. when the bill came we realized we'd chugged 600 dollars.
People asked whether I could tell the difference. Well no, at least not then.

Anyway sitting in this beautiful restaurant with a beautiful view wondering what it meant to be "grown-up" and why I didn't think oh how grown up this place is.. I guess that was the quiet realization.
And as we drank and talked and ate squid ink muffins with truffle butter, looked at the fresh cut flowers and the white linen of customer trust, I thought of time passing and how things come to be.

Monday, May 2, 2011

book it.

I went to Macau over the weekend to see Ferry Corsten in an attempt to escape from the reality of exams and possible failure.
It was pretty amazing, we stood in front and just jumped around. Completely sober, but drunk on lights, although by the end my legs were shaking and I felt like I'd been running a marathon.

The only downside was that the concert was at a club, a club that just opened a few weeks ago. I guess I'm the type of person who overthinks things or feels self-conscious at the wrong times, but clubbing has always seemed a bit of a bizarre concept.

It's sort of similar to the feeling about house parties. slow realization - yes we are standing around awkwardly. We are attempting to talk to each other over loud music. We are drinking out of plastic cups. yes and we are in a house.

But try feeling hyper aware at a club. Hrm... We are standing in a room with lights and music. Males and females are going to rub up against each other rhythmically in a socially accepted imitation of fornication. (This is usually in my head in a National Geographic voice. The male ascertains a female's intentions by her attire. The female's high heels limit her mobility, but give her an exaggerated posture while the pigment which stains her lips red mimics arousal... The female then accepts the male's attempt at courtship.)

In Korea they've had a specific type of clubbing for awhile, it's called "booking". Guys pay a fee for tables at a club, and girls get in for free, but in return they are brought to the guys' table by "booking" waiters. If the guys don't like the girls they can ask for a new rotation, and vice versa. The girls drink, they talk to the guys etc, and perhaps afterward if things go well, they can move to the hotel upstairs where there is a discount rate. It's like getting a ticket validation. Booking waiters who are particularly good at matching people will receive a tip.

When people hear about this they tend to react in shock, how crass.. etc. but actually it's just very efficient. It cuts all the extraneous bits and eliminates the formality of 'hey do you want a drink?' and then the customary 10 minutes of 'dancing' that is expected in exchange.

Something that's always made me uncomfortable about clubbing in the U.S. is the way that guys dance at asian clubs. I know that it's unfair to generalize and it's a stereotype .. these are unclear statistics and as my mother would say, is this the correct sample size? But many asian guys at clubs seem to approach dancing like one would a ride at an amusement park. A group of guys will approach the 'ride' (girls who are dancing) and then surround them in a sort of semi circle and watch. They wait their turn one by one to hop on a girl and latch on until a) they are shaken off or b)are allowed to grope and grind.
if it's a) and they're shaken off, then they shrug their shoulders and leave to approach another ride, while another one of their peers decide to try doing the same.

I suppose it's necessary to recognize that it's difficult to approach a girl and it's unfair that a male is expected to make the first move and still deal with rejection. It must be crushing to tap a girl on the shoulder and ask her to dance only to be ignored or rejected.
Maybe hopping on is the only way.

But anyway in Macau at this trance concert, I realized that that approach was actually not so bad.
In Macau guys will do this watching and waiting, but they do it individually, spread out within the crowd. The worst part is, they will creep up behind a female and then stand there pretending that they are doing anything but trying to get the female to bump into their crotch. They will look at their phone, adjust their shirts, look pensively in the distance, all the while creeping towards so that one's hand or body bumps against them. And if a girl finally turns to realize that there is some creeper behind them, the guy pulls out his phone, acts like he's mortally offended but still keeps standing there.
It's disgusting and offensive... it was crass.

Friday, April 22, 2011


I think I have my own wind tunnel that follows me around. It's been very disconcerting, and it occurs at unexpected times when there should be no wind at all. On my way to school, my arms are full of books and suddenly I can't see anything, I wonder what's going on (the novel blindness?) until I realize that it's just my skirt. 'oh just my skirt.'&*@#$* 'oh hello queen's road west' :frantic scramble:

One of the reasons I even began wearing skirts was to be more modest, like the long flowy kind that goes past the knee. Sometimes it makes me feel like Julie Andrews in that scene in sound of music when she's skipping around with her guitar and is all "i have confidence in sunshine!.. I have confidence in ME!"
Although I suppose that shouldn't be a positive thing because when she gets to the von trapp house one kid tells her that it's the "ugliest skirt I ever saw".
And then maria admits "even the poor wouldn't have this one."


It's easter holiday in hong kong, it's a national holiday with 4 days off. It's interesting because the majority of people don't celebrate Easter, it would be similar to the U.S. having a day off for buddha's birthday. I think the main reason is just that hong kong just likes national holidays, or maybe it's a sign of broad cultural appreciation.

What I would really like are peeps.
My parents used to buy a box, let us eat one bunny each and then leave it outside in the garage because it was too sweet. My brother and I would sneak outside and eat them once in awhile. The open package would keep all year until the next easter. Frightening but delicious.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

steering lessons.

I don't know how it happened, but somehow I've become represented as an ADHD student specialist. About half my students are special needs, and without sounding fake, it actually has taught me a lot. I never really knew what to think about ADHD or 'behavioral learning challenges'. But if I ever questioned its existence, that has disappeared from trying to teach a literature class to one of my adhd students. Maybe it was the Asian upbringing, but try explaining the need for medically treating ADHD to a traditional Korean mother and she would find it ridiculous. Can't concentrate you say? Yes I have a prescription for that: Tie child to chair. Administer smacks often. Limit food consumption until the lesson is learned. Repeat as necessary.

Unfortunately I was witness to this a few days ago, one of my Korean students has a younger sister, a 5 year old who wears purple tiaras and likes to run around and color. She usually greets me at the door by slapping a sticker on my thigh and screeching "teacher teacher guess what I AM!"

Anyway that day when I came in, she was sitting in a dining room chair, crying while stuttering through "where is the dog?" Apparently her school report card had come back with a complaint that she couldn't sit still in class and that she was still behind the class requirement for reading. I spent the next two hours trying to ignore the sounds of crying and repeated smacking.

It was disturbing and not at all funny, but I wonder if later the mother will realize how ridiculous the situation was, and the amount of perspective she is missing as a parent.
screeching mother: "Where is the DOG?!"
lisping girl: "the dog ith in the"
"The where?!" smack smack.
"ith in the house?"
"No! why is my daughter so stupid? read it!"

awful. it was traumatizing.. i called my own mother afterward, which was a mistake because she got overly agitated and made me promise that next time I would interrupt the lesson and smack the mom instead.

yes totally.


When I first started, I was given instructions and notes about the students - various diagnoses that I would have to look up. For example, inability to convert spoken directions to paper, only learns "kinetically", must incorporate sound and rhythm in lesson, best if items rhyme..

I still don't know if I have incorporated kinetic things or rhythm in the lesson - the most I could do with that was tapping a beat on the desk when the student seems to be drifting off. The hours usually pass with my gesturing as enthusiastically as possible, writing quotes in different colors, acting out scenes. Most days this is successful and then there are the occasional days when a student starts to color inside the books, then repeatedly stabs the pages with a pen and then in the last half hour, silently shred the pages. One of my students has shredded through 5 copies of "Of Mice and Men" already. (In his defense, the book is thin)

But I've realized that the most basic thing is to be able to steer a conversation.
It makes me wonder if this is how driving school instructors feel like.. we're going off the road! off the road!

failed steering:
Discussing Streetcar named desire - student: "I have a friend who wants to name her kid stella. Actually she just got her tongue pierced last week, I couldn't tell if it hurt but omg it totally looked like it did i took a video do you want to watch it see she's not even flinching but i think she's just one of those girls who has a high pain tolerance. is that possible? see like it's so cute and it's clear so her parents have no idea she has it..." By this time the phone is out and the video is playing and yea teacher fail.

Discussing A Doll's House: "I don't get it... why is the loan such a big deal nora did it cause she loved whatshisname and it's not like she cheated on him actually i think cheating is awful like one of my friends.."
"cheating! it could cause venereal diseases like the doctor character, you see how ibsen uses the doctor as a physical embodiment of the..."
"Ew what did he have again syphilis? Like isn't that when... oh I saw the grey's anatomy episode where they all get it right, like have you seen the musical episode where they sing, you know one of them was on broadway I saw spamalot like in new york once it was hilarious my father used to make me watch like all of the old monty actually here let me show you the song - i love this song if i ever got married it would be my song... "
"Marriage! Yes what is Ibsen's view on marriage in the play... Ibsen! Ibsen!"
phone is out, song is playing. we are off the road stuck in a ditch..

successful steering:
Discussion Of Mice and Men, the puppy death scene - student: Omg so you know the dogs I have now well once they killed my pet rabbit there was bloodeverywhere and I was so...
"Rabbits, well you know that was Lenny's dream, to tend rabbits. Let's turn to that first scene about the rabbits. How is that referencing the american dream?"

"Is there really lots of killing in America? It seems so dangerous with the guns and stuff, like on CSI .. well it's funny there was this video parody..."
"CSI NY, well gary sinise played george in the movie version, how do you think he dealt with the ending? Is it sympathetic?"
"So my friend..."
"Friendship! That's a key theme in this book. Let's talk about the friendship between George and Lenny."
still on the road.

learning to walk

I think my dog is going through a drama queen phase. She is super sweet and very loyal, but there are some things that she finds unforgivable. It's like living with a volatile adolescent, except her form of retribution is to urinate on the floor. We decide to not let her play in the room, she pees on the floor. I don't give her a piece of the bread I'm eating... she looks at me like I'm slowly starving her and pees on the floor. I lecture her for jumping too much... she marches over to me and pees on the floor. She acts like she's sorry but I think she gets some satisfaction watching me scrub floors.

The most embarrassing thing was when I tried to get her to walk around outside on a leash. I thought this was natural for dogs, I always see happy looking dogs following their people around, there's even dogs without leashes and dogs that hold their leash in their own mouth. I envisioned her being happy to be outside, trotting alongside me. Instead, every time she came outside, she acted like the sidewalk was burning her. She dragged her feet so that her stomach was touching the ground, and if I tried to lift her with the leash she dug her claws into the concrete so hard it left marks. She whined and cried, and people looked at me like I was trying to murder this poor animal. Eventually out of embarrassment I would lift her up and carry her home.

Last week I had to take her to the vet, she refused to walk so I carried her there. The vet's office is mid way up a hill (Hong Kong sometimes seems like a perpendicular city). Being out of shape, I was breathless by the time I got there.

I decided that I was putting my foot down. We would walk back down.
It's been three weeks! In Alaska you would be dragging me on a sled! In the cold! In wind and snow! And if I needed to win my race I would leave you behind and you would wait for me when I come back days later.
(Yes I've become one of those people who talk to their pets. -.-)
I had to drag her for a block - the one block took about 10 minutes to walk. I had angry women elbow me and a few men who grumbled as they glared. All looked sympathetically at the dog who seemed to be physically melting on the sidewalk.

I guess my lecturing and dragging inspired her. She eventually started to walk, she even seemed happy about it. Next I just have to find a sled.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

conjugate that.

Teaching high school students sometimes means being the target of insults. I think it's the moodiness that comes with being a teenager. It's not very healthy for me because it just makes me feel like responding with some not very kind thoughts. I've realized the best way is to respond with a discussion about grammar.

Student: "Wow if I was you I would never have studied English. It's so dumb."
yea so dumb That's why you can't understand it.
smiling "Well now, that's a great example of when you should use the subjunctive. This is wishful thinking, so you should have said if I were you... Let's discuss that."

Meeting my student after a sleepless night of cramming for exams and wearing my woody allen glasses...
Student:"What have you been doing? You look awful." :smirk:
nice to see you too. sigh.
sitting slowly "That's interesting, you chose to use the present progressive verb tense... Let's talk about how you would conjugate that. What about the past does the present progressive suggest? Why shouldn't you have used the present perfect tense? Let's discuss that."

Student:"Why aren't you wearing makeup today? Your face looks better when you do."
well too bad nothing can be done about your face...
"Well that's a good example of using parallel construction when comparing things... map out this sentence. Let's discuss that."

It's like conditioning. Insult me and we will learn grammar until it's painful.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


I've been trying to become better at cooking.

I was never a natural cook. I don't know if it's because I lack the imagination or a sense of timing. Maybe it's that I'm too absentminded, but cooking for me is an exercise in chaos... dodging flames, falling knives and spills.

Anyway this year I've decided to be better. I had an image of myself as capable, sophisticated, maybe even elegant. The result has not been any of those things.

What have I made these past couple weeks?
Skillet fried pork chops. Breaded fried chicken. Chicken fried pork. (who knew that was possible?) fried potato skins. Corned beef hash with home potatoes. I did make pasta one night, but it was in a 3 cheese alfredo sauce, recipe reviewers said it was modeled after Olive Garden's. oh sophistication. -.-

Fortunately the recipient of my cooking is appreciative, probably because he's amused by the novelty of american cuisine. Unfortunately for me (and him I suppose), he's a natural cook. His cooking involves things like dry rubs, effortless wine sauces, subtle spices.
How about seared lamb in a wine reduction?

If someone gave me lamb i'd probably just bread it and fry it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I found cheap bagels a couple weeks ago. I think bagels must be a relatively new thing in Asia. I remember visiting korea as a kid; the only thing one of my aunts would ask for was 1 pack of bagels, which she would freeze and savor over a couple months. It was too bad we couldn't bring over cream cheese, she said she would dream about it.
When my grandmother came to stay with us for a couple months, she was very disconcerted about the bread with the hole in it. She looked at it like it was deformed, I suppose since she's so frugal she could reuse the same piece of aluminum foil for years. I told her the bread was supposed to be like that. "You pay for a hole in your bread?" and she shook her head, upset that we would let ourselves be cheated this way. We also took her to a dunkin donuts - which only led to more head shaking.

But bagels remind me most of the woman I worked for in college. I was her "personal assistant". The quotations make it sound shady, but I only mean it in that personal assistant doesn't really seem to fully cover my responsibilities. She hired me my first week in New York, the official job description was something like "letter writer", although the small print would have said 'laundry deliverer, personal shopper, courier, housekeeper.' I qualified for two reasons, good handwriting and naivety. Good handwriting because I wrote letters for her, and naivety because I never questioned anything she asked of me.

She was a single lady in her 60s living the wealthy life in New York, she was concerned with upkeep and playing the dating field.
The first time I'd ever heard of the concept of bikini waxing was from her. She wanted me to book her an appointment, "Brazilian" she said. "And ask them what Swarovski crystal designs they have.. or maybe well ask them if it interferes if I decide to go for a bit of a runway instead."

On my notepad, I'd written "Brazil? Swar crystal? being on a runway?" I thought she meant interfering with airplane travel.
It was a fun and instructive phone conversation.

She was on a very strict eating plan, which involved a detailed grocery itinerary. Diet Chocolate soda cans from a shop on the lower east side, vegan muffins from Avenue B, a 'small' portion of tasti delite in a 'large' cup. (I suppose that's psychological). I once came home with a medium size portion of tasti delite in the large cup because a worker had tried to be generous with me. I thought it was a nice gesture too, but apparently I had brought chaos into her day's food plan.
"What am I supposed to do? My GAWD what am I supposed to do? What can I possibly do?!"
thinking: "um... just don't eat all of it?" such a genius solution deserves a raise.

The lady had very specific directions that were also extremely vague. She would have made an excellent politician. Every day was a scavenger hunt, the shopping list she would leave on the desk for me would have descriptions like

"rice cereal puff, green and pink label, a bunny or a small child's face on it."
"lean cuisine meal - 135 calories, beef or lamb label with cream? fusilli?"
"currant jam french or italian brand, purple sticker label, picture of seeded fruit."
"salad dressing. swirly with seeds in it."

And every other week or so, she would buy a dozen bagels. I would get them fresh from a shop in the east village, these huge bagels the size of a face. When I got to her home I would carefully scrape out the filling with a sharp grapefruit spoon until all that was left was the rind. And on the counter when I left would be stack of autopsied bagels.

Of all the things, that was the thing I felt was so bizarre.

At the beginning I'd attempt to eat the inside part because I hated leaving it to waste, but it seemed kind of demeaning, and I couldn't ever finish 12 bagel fillings.

My grandmother would have shaken her head.

Monday, March 28, 2011

always summer

One of my students is a very clever girl, a rare thing I've realized. She's 10 years old and applying for boarding school. She manages to sit patiently through 2 hour lessons of mapping sentence grammar and gravely talk about world issues like the death penalty, environment, Libya, the problems of poverty, the middle east conflict.

Most of the time she gives very nuanced answers, but I can tell that there are times when steadfast childlike logic takes over. "Why can't we just tell them to stop fighting" was one. "Why can't we just split the land in half? Right in the middle." It's almost painful for me to have to respond with a counter argument, so that she has to consider the "worldly realities" when she has such pure answers already.

I know that increasingly simple answers are considered naive, and it's true that people with steadfast conviction and stubborn faith sometimes frighten me, but in a child, it is a lovely thing.
Anyway last lesson I asked her to write about a childhood memory, as a kind of break from essays about war and poverty. I thought like most girls she'd write about going to an amusement park, or her favorite birthday party. I asked her to read it aloud, and I soon realized she was writing about the last day with her dog.

It was a simple story about the dog she'd grown up with, one of two puppies that their family had adopted, one for her and one for her sister. Yellow Labradors with "gold fur the color of the sun's smile in summer" she said. Her dog had to be put down because of cancer, and she wrote that they'd had a picnic and a tea party so that "her dog wouldn't know what was going on", and that they'd taken one last family photograph in the mountains before they took the dog to the vet.

I had managed to hold it together, until the end when I rather unprofessionally started crying. "I used to worry and wonder whether there's a dog heaven. But I don't wonder anymore, because I can see her running there. It's always summer, and she looks so happy... I know that she's waiting for me like she always did."


The past year has opened up so much more of Hong Kong to me, it's like I've seen a completely different city. I've even gained more confidence in Cantonese.

The extent is still limited to pointing at things and saying "This!", and handing over the correct amount of money without taking several minutes to translate in my head. But I think it's mostly that the intimidation and fear has lessened. I have learned to buy baskets of dimsum from a sidewalk shop (shumai fish dumplings are only $14hk for a kilo.. which converts to $2US for a half pound? 10 ounces? something cheap), socks from the lady screaming into a loudspeaker (socks don't just sell themselves!), get bus money from the recycling men who pay for paper and metal by the kilo.

small steps.

After all this time my lack of cantonese ability has made me realize that I probably should have listened to everyone's advice and just began with mandarin. It only took me 2 years to accept this.

My mandarin teacher is a very jolly looking lady. She has a way of speaking that makes it sound like she's laughing at the same time. She also has a habit of smacking my arm when I don't answer correctly, or shaking my shoulder when I'm not speaking loudly enough for her. I'm never sure whether I should be afraid or laughing.

We sit at the coffee shop, loudly gesturing at each other. She likes to act out things, rather than explain them. And because I'm confused I mirror them back at her.
I'm sure we look like we're half-mad, especially because of the occasional smacking. But I've given up being self-conscious and any attempt at dignity. I'm trying to learn a language don't judge.

From the beginning, she has never taught me in English, so most of the time the lesson is her rattling something in mandarin and me saying "sorry shenme? what?" and then her smacking me and pointing her middle finger at my head, as in "Use your brain" until I finally figure it out.
Violent charades.

I'd made the point of telling her at the first lesson that I wanted hardcore teaching, tough love, none of this "Ni Hao" "Ni Hao" for an hour. I want tough! I'd said.
She looked skeptical, saying that Chinese education tough and American tough is different.

Apparently so.


I've been attempting to walk more ever since I was inspired / guilted by an article about a 90 year old man who runs the New york marathon each year... when he crosses the finish line, he celebrates by downing shots of scotch.

I was walking home from work the other day when I saw three women. They looked like the type of women my mother would go to church with. Frosted hair and manicured nails, color coordinated outfits from Talbots and Ann Taylor, and bags made of fabric patchwork.
For a moment I wondered if I was seeing projections, some mental flicker. But no there they were at the corner of Western district, the three of them huddled over a map, standing in front of a dried fish stall and next to a counter where a man was solemnly chopping the hooves off a pig's leg. They flinched each time he slammed his cleaver.

They were trying to look like they weren't lost, but unfortunately it was dinner rush hour, and they stood out, a solitary still island jostled by the waves of people pushing to catch a bus home.

I asked them where they were trying to go. And they turned to me, blankly relieved. They wanted to go see the light show they said. They were going to take the ferry to the pier, to see the lights from the harbor.
"I was so worried we'd" one of them said, her voice lowering to a whisper, "wandered into the wrong part of town.."
Wrong part of town? "Um.."
"You know like we'd accidentally crossed into the ghetto."
She giggled as she gestured around her. The man with the pig feet was still cleaving grimly and glaring at us.

I laughed too, couldn't help it. The ghetto? I guess she hadn't noticed my grocery bags.
"No this is not the ghetto... " Far from it lady... look at the cities in the U.S. "No this is a real nice area." Real nice area? my English. "Actually I live here. It's residential. Kind of like the suburbs. A real nice area." I repeated. Not really like the suburbs at all, but I didn't know what else to compare it to.

She looked slightly surprised, still unconvinced, like she wanted to say something, but she only said thank you.
As I watched them walk away, I wondered what it was that she saw. Perhaps it was just after seeing the chemical shine that is downtown central, the decapitated pigs and ducks hung by their long necks was a shock. The rows and rows of mysterious looking dried things set out on the sidewalk, the laundry flapping outside the windows of what seem like grimy buildings, the men with rolled up sleeves pushing carts of trash, the flickering lights of chinese lettering, the bamboo scaffolding with men sitting on it, while shoveling rice and chopped goose into their mouths.

I suppose I understood why they were confused. It's the panic of seeing any new place, it's hard to see past the foreignness. I remember the first time I saw New York, it was orientation week at NYU. I came out of 4th street station, duffel bag in hand, and all I could see were the rows of 6th avenue sex shops and the court where guys played pick up basketball, while people cheered and rattled the chain link fence. There was a small area of benches were people were sleeping and a man sweating in a huge coat was screaming into a megaphone and passing out pamphlets. And I thought oh no... what have I done.

Of course a year later, I was living behind those 6th avenue sex shops, and realized that what seemed like dark mysterious streets were actually expensive oyster bars and underground wine clubs. And the basketball court, a place for talent agents to scout new talent.

With more time, they would have noticed that within the rows of what seem like carelessly dried seafood, a fistful of dried maggot-like things is the cost of a small diamond, and a few dried phallic shaped sea cucumbers is worth more than a fabric pattern bag. They would have heard that the high humidity is what makes the buildings look rusted. And underneath they would have seen the buildings shine in pastel paint, robin's egg blue, mint green, and vivid orange.

As I walked the rest of the way home, I remembered riding the ferry by myself in the first year, whenever the dust and chemical clouds seemed to be suffocating and too dark. And I would watch the way dancing lights shone through the fog, like seeing the faint rainbows in spilled oil.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


The past weeks, I've moved on from self-help books back to fantasy. I guess I'd had enough of drawing mind maps and reading about list making and circular sleep cycles and mice.. Instead moved on to sci-fi vampires (the passage!), dragon eggs and war of the roses.
"nerd!" says the crowd

Someone recommended Game of Thrones to me - I can't remember who.. but I wish I could thank them, so good I finished it in a day.

I've been reading books on my phone, which is probably burning my eyes from the inside, but it's so addicting, and even better causes it's not embarrassing to carry. I used to read a book while I walked, but it looked pretentious and seemed to invite people to knock into me. Now I just look busy. I know that I should be spending my energy reading the law - but I guess reading pages and pages on debating the official procedures of how to "summon" someone (just summon them?) or "deliver a letter" (just deliver it to them?) isn't very compelling.

I finally taught my dog to shake hands. Maybe not that momentous, but after two weeks of bribing and begging - and finally to resigning myself that maybe my girl just wasn't the future Lassie ":shrug: who needs smarts anyway, my love for you is unconditional... Ahh please just shake hands!" she finally did it. sigh so proud.

sometimes I feel like I'm in that scene in the matrix, where neo is surrounded by numbers and code - except that while he reaches out with a hand in a cool keanu way, my life is like code fragments pouring down on me.
Dates are wrong, my timing is wrong or off by weeks. I prepped for an exam that was apparently a week later, I went to class and when I got there campus was closed (I was 2 days early), I tried to watch the super bowl, but miscalculated the time difference, then did the same thing with the oscars. I don't know what's wrong with me.

I have one very coherent memory about numbers from when I was a kid. We'd just learned the time tables in school, up to the 8s. 1x2 is 2. 2x2 is 4 blahblah - kind of an annoying chant that I was cheerfully chanting in the car on the way back home. To me it seemed more like a poem of sounds, rather than numbers. We pulled up to the garage, and my father, always the mathematician asked me what 8x12 was. I told him we'd only learned up to the 8s, 8x8. And he said that if I understood the concept of numbers I should be able to figure it out. And that I couldn't leave the car until I'd figured it out - and then he went inside, shut the car doors and locked the garage. My kindergartener brother stayed with me in the dark, and tried helpfully to count with his fingers and toes.

I think this was supposed to be my father's Gausss-like experiment - Gauss, the mathematician who as a child was forced to add all the numbers from 1-100 as a punishment, but then did it in like 5 minutes to the amazement of his teachers. He'd figured out some theorem.
Obviously I was not Gauss. or a prodigy. I didn't understand the concept of numbers. It took so long my father lost track of the fact that we were inside, because eventually he came looking for us, and asked us what we were doing in the car.

I'm still not sure what 8x12 is. hah

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


2011 realizing time really has passed when a 16 year old student said to me very wearily, "kids these days".
Which made me want to snap "yea you're right, kids these days...You kid!"
although I suppose she doesn't think she is one. That day she was wearing her I <3 BJ shirt.
Which wouldn't be anything, as BJ apparently refers to Beijing, (I asked) but at the end she'd written an "s" in black sharpie.
Along with the middle schooler kid who wrote an essay on conformity about giraffes with phallic necks and another middle schooler who chose to write about buying jeggings for the topic "If I could change one mistake in my life it would be..."
I felt weariness.

I suppose that's how my shipping professor feels- a very old and dignified British man who speaks about ships as though he were from a time when those new fangled 'aeroplanes' just wouldn't do.

Our class is a lesson in failing geography
"is anyone familiar with the ports in Turkey? No?"
"oh well.." continues with a disapproving stare.

"how about ***?"
"ah that is a small port town in India on the southern part near the isles of ******

"Is anyone familiar with German geography?"
a german student raises hand
"have you heard of port vuw@&$?"
german student looks down in shame.

I suppose his distaste is justified, especially as I still giggle each time he says "seamen"
Kids these days.

New year, I'm ready.