Thursday, June 30, 2005
If you haven't noticed, I am not the luckiest person in the world- if I drink, I get violently ill. I am allergic to all seafood. I suffer from severe allergic reactions to all insect bites. Violent, unleashed dogs all beeline for me. I think they sense my fear. There can be line of fifty people slathered in steak juice and a dog will pass all of them by to clench it's jaws around my ankle.
In any case, I think I'm going to have to refrain from lunch hour massages. For one thing, my masseuse broke the cardinal rule of massage today- she shorted me. We started a few minutes late (through no fault of my own) and she ended a few minutes early. So my 60 min. massage ended up being closer to 50 min. When you're paying a masseuse as much as you do, you tend to notice a missing 10 min.
Of cooooourse I could have something, and of course I didn't. I am an Asian from Hawaii after all. We prefer to suffer and seethe in silence.
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
I have finally set our itinerary for Egypt. We will have a little over 2 weeks in Cairo, Luxor, Aswan & Sinai. We had a trip planned there in 2000, but we had to cancel it due to a little run in I had with some bedbugs. I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned that little snafu. We were about halfway around a "trip around the world" before I got the bites in Prague. A week later in Hungary those innocent little bites turned into hives that covered my entire body. I looked like Darth Maul for 2 months.
We went to the ER in Hungary and they tried to tell me I had mosquito bites. In my palms? Under my feet? Seven thousand mosquitoes bit me all at once and I never saw them? Yes, yes...they told me. But do not worry! We have great medicine for that! (By the way, what they call 'great medicine,' we call here in the good 'ol US of A- "calamine".)
Still, I was so desperate that I used it everyday. It took me TWO hours to cover each bite in Calamine. It took about 6 Benadryl to get maybe 20 min. of uninterrupted sleep. I wanted to die. Most days I was delirious from the lack of sleep and stinging pain. Everyday for a over a week Roy would leave our room to get food (we rented a room from a nice Hungarian woman in Budapest). I would wait for him by watching Russian MTV (I did this for about 23 hours a day). I would only leave my room once each night after the Hungarian woman and her husband went to bed. This was so that I could quickly dart into the shower, hoping and praying the whole time that they wouldn't run into me and have me deported.
Anyway, this "little incident" ended up costing us thousands of dollars on unused visas, train passes, airline tickets, etc. We ended up having to cancel 2 months of our trip and taking two trains, four planes and a cab ride to get back to Hawaii so that I could recover. To this day I am pretty sure the Hungarian woman tells all her friends about the crazy American who went all the way to Hungary to watch Russian MTV all day long.
Isn't travelling GREAT?!
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
On the rare off chance that someone does NOT consult with me about their upcoming Hawaiian vacation, I am of course, wounded and offended. This just means I have to strike up idle conversation with the offender until I have pretty much managed to situate myself between them and their monitor. This is where I strike. "Sooo...I hear you and the wife are heading to the islands next month." This usually triggers a slightly embarrassed, "Oh yeah! I kept meaning to ask you about what we should do while we're Maui!" (wink wink....see? Always works!) I then reply by telling them I'm not an expert on Maui and can't help them.
I never said I actually had information to impart. I just get insulted if they don't even ask.
I only feel qualified to comment on the Big Island & O'ahu (I lived on both islands). I've also been to Maui and Kaua'i well over a dozen times each, but I've never been to Moloka'i or Kaho'olawe, so I couldn't help you there either.
My personal opinion (and of course I'm biased) is that the Big Island is your one-stop-shop for island fun. (Hey! That's catchy! You read it here first!) The Big Island is home to 11 out of 13 of the world's climate zones and the world's tallest mountain, Mauna Kea (Mt. Everest is the tallest mountan above sea level). We have snow, rainforests, wind swept praries, desert, sandy beaches and volcanic lava. What more can you ask for? It's amazing that it all fits on this tiny little dot in the middle of the Pacific. Did you know that the Hawaiian Islands are the most isolated archipelago in the world? (That's what I'm here for people...to help educate others about the 'aina.)
In my senior year of high school a couple of friends and I decided it would be really cool to drive all the way up to Mauna Kea to play in the snow, and then down to the volcano to see the lava...all in one day. This was before I realized I would suffer altitude sickness at the summit and that we would 'accidentally' break the rear view mirror off the one and only emergency ambulance at the observatory station up there. (It was covered in ice!!! It looked neat! How could we know that one too many whacks at the ice would break the whole thing off? Don't worry, don't worry...we propped it back on and so long as the driver didn't go faster than 5 mph I think it would have stayed put.)
In all seriousness, the Big Island is heaven on Earth. My husband and I took a helicopter over the dramatic cliffs and waterfalls of the Kohala Coast, rode down an old irrigation ditch in Hamakus on a kayak, cliff dived off South Point, snorkeled near the fish conservatory in Napoopoo, sunbathed on a black sand beach, and steamed ourselves in the vents of the Kilauea volcano.
If you haven't headed there yet, you know who to email for help. I promise I'll be nice.
Sunday, June 26, 2005
- Chunky mango
- Pineapple confettie
- Polo Sport
For the latter soap I was going for an artsy, metrosexual feel to it. It's for a friend who just bought a house and I thought it would be nice for his bathroom (if you're reading this, sorry it's not a surprise, Chris...but I have to preserve my journalistic integrity and people are really clamoring to know this stuff). Unfortunately for Roy and I, I knocked over my new bottle of Ralph Lauren fragrance and now our kitchen reeks.
I hope the smell goes away before my family gets here. My family was due to arrive here in a few weeks, but now they may not come up until they know what's going on with my grandmother. My family is very, very close. Though it may not be clear in my somewhat narcisstic blog, in fact, you couldn't find a family that's tighter. Ready to weep? Read on-
My mother (a saint) used to wake us up by singing to us, then by the time we'd get to the kitchen table, breakfast would be all laid out and she would read a daily devotional to us while we ate. She filled our weekends with every fun and educational activity our little town offered- museum visits, trips to the park, swimming lessons, weekly library visits, art activities, nighttime stories, etc. She is very artistic, caring, and maternal. When I try to describe what type of mother she is, here is the best I can offer- she wrote each of us four kids a song when we were born. Just for us. We'd all sing them together on road trips in the car. I know...she's perfect. I feel for her that has me for her only daughter!
My dad is her perfect counterpart. Where my mother is more reserved and a planner, my father is more loud, funny and spontaneous. He is a workaholic, not because he likes to work, but because he likes to provide well for his family. He has had the same three jobs for over a decade, yet he found the time to raise us and maintain his home/cars. Whereas my mother was more likely to let us sleep in and watch cartoons, he would be the one to get us up early and have him help us in the yard. Though we resented it, I think we're all grateful for how he raised us. All of us know what hard work is, and he inspired us to make a better life for ourselves. Thanks to him, I also learned a sport well enough that it paid for college and took me all over the country for four years.
Where they are both identical is the emphasis they place on family. Neither of them were particularly close to their siblings, so they raised us in such a way that all four of kids would not hesitate to lay our life down for one another. We all talk regularly and are very close. It's funny. Whenever it's someone's birthday (because we don't live near each other), we all call each other to remind each other it's their birthday. For example, I'll call my brother Jon to remind him that it's Joel's birthday, and he'll tell me that my mother and other brother Joseph have already called to remind him. I think we're all so worried that one of us will forget to call ...when in reality, none of us have ever forgotten.
It's funny, I plan on returning to Hawaii not because I miss the food, the weather, the beauty, or the safety of the island. I have chronic wanderlust and tend to not get attached to places or things. I am returning home because for me, home is where my family is.
Saturday, June 25, 2005
Now I have an evening of tropical soap making planned. My kitchen smells like pineapple, coconut and mango. Yummy. Since soap making involves alot of waiting, I am also going to finish work on a business plan tonight so that hopefully I can make a little extra money this year. I am hoping that by writing it here it might motivate me to actually get it done. As you can see, I am already distracted. I've put it off for nearly a year, what's another day?
My mother called in the middle of all of this to to tell me that my grandmother may only have 1-5 weeks to live. This news filled me with a sense of hope. Grandma Miyoko has had Alzheimers for over a decade. She rapidly deteriorated once my grandpa Jitsuo died and has been vegetative for over 6-8 years. It's been devastating to watch. I just hope and pray that she will be at peace soon. Whenever I've visited her, I've always felt the presence of my grandfather watching over her, so I know he's waiting for her somewhere, somehow.
They have quite a beautiful story. They were both born to Japanese immigrants and lived on the island of Oahu. Theirs was a traditional arranged marriage, but to see them together you would never have guessed. Though they never made it to high school, they worked very hard as farmers and not only raised three very successful sons, but also bought a beautiful property on the North Shore.
My grandfather was also a skilled carpenter and absolutely fearless. On the day he had his fatal heart attack, rather than call an ambulance, he took a bus and collapsed on the stairs of the hospital.
My grandmother reminds me of Olan in Pearl Buck's The Good Earth. She always worked alongside my grandfather in the fields. I would do anything for one more walk among the orchids and gingers she grew around her house.
In my memories, they were always smiling, and their house will always smell like burning incense, apple bananas, mangoes, lilikoi, mothballs, and the gas from their stove.
Thursday, June 23, 2005
In Hawaii on the other hand, it meant there were was a fire. It was always neat to watch the chopper fly back and forth from the ocean to dump sea water on the flames. When I was young I used to envision a scuba diver falling from the bucket into the fire. And I wonder I'm so cold and don't want kids.
Anyway, as I may have mentioned earlier, we live in a pleasant area on the newer side of our town. However, reading my local paper everyday ensures that I am never lulled into a false of security. Just last week four guys stole a car and tried to run over a cop right behind our house. A few months ago, someone ran their car into the wall that borders our community. About a month ago there were 7 shootings in 8 days in our city. We live and work in two of the state's poorest counties, and it shows.
Today while driving to a meeting with a coworker I witnessed some of the most abject poverty in America. I saw kids living in rusted out trailers on vacant lots that clearly have no power or running water. Thankfully I work with some of the noblest human beings on earth. I help support over 1,000 employees at a non-profit organization whose sole focus is to better the lives of others through healthier living and education. I wish I could say I was out on the front lines changing lives but in reality, I'm not. I have a desk job. What most touches me is that most of my coworkers earn less than $20,000 per year, but still find it in their hearts to give contributions from every paycheck. It's humbling.
At my last company it was all about corporate greed. Sure, sure, they talked the talk about "giving back", but c'mon, we all sat in $750 ergonomic chairs, were given the best wireless laptops that money could buy, had unlimited cell phone plans and generous expense accounts. We drank out of crystal glasses, and people would walk around and restock our printers with paper in the morning! I flew a private jet nearly every other week to travel and dine on $50 ala carte filet mignon. I was given a 20% bonus my first year there.
Of course the bubble burst after 7 years and the company eventually closed it's doors leaving many unpaid employees, backrupted subcontractors and furious clients who lost millions. The CEO ended up losing his 20+ antique car collection (this was a man who lambasted me on my third day there for hiring someone for $12.50 instead of $12.00, so it's hard to feel bad for the guy).
We actually got into a very public argument over it. He asked me (in the hallway, in front of many other people who suddenly had a strong interest in their shoes), "Do you know what a difference fifty cents an hour is over the course of a year?!!"
Correct answer- "Yes I do Almighty One!!! It's $1,050 a year!!! Please! Kill me and feed me to your firstborn for I am a dumb, stupid AND ugly!" Here was my actual answer: "Yes, I do. It's often the difference between food on the table, or no food on the table."
Did he stop there? Oh no. He rolled his eyes and went on and on about if I were to give everyone in the company a fifty cents an hour raise that it would end up being a million a year, and that people at that hourly rate didn't work for money anyway, they worked for "other reasons." My answer to this was, "With all due respect, I don't think you're qualified to tell me how the blue collar mentality workforce is thinking or feeling." I wish I could say he shut up then but he didn't. So I had to call this Administrative Assistant and offer her the paltry-a** $12 an hour. That wasn't even the worst disagreement we ever had. Our biggest was over his insistence that everyone hired had to pass a VERY difficult math test. It didn't matter if you were a custodian or an architect, everyone needed an 8 out of 10 or it was a no go. Of course 98% of our applicants failed miserably. Grown men and women would weep in my office over it. I honestly can't get into it or I'll get even more pissed and this entry will be 18-pages long. Suffice to say that even if you got through the 10-person interview and personality test, if you didn't know how much those baseball uniforms cost or where the damn train was at 4:00, you were out of a job, my friend.
Spare me the lecture about if it were MY company and MY money it would be different. Please. I hope to God it wouldn't be. I grew up idealizing Socialism and Communism until I studied and visited Russia & China. I cheered when I thought Bill & Hillary would bring us nationalized health care. For chrissake, I voted for Al Gore even though he started french-kissing Tipper on stage. I hope and pray I never niggle over 50 cents with a deserving employee.
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Anyhow, here's my issue...I bet you all remember fighting over the last cookie when you were five, but I'm also willing to bet you OUTGREW that obsession with food at some point, right? So would you consider it a bad thing if say....(and this is all hypothetical of course)...you are thirty year old female and still cognizant of how much others are eating of your favorite snack in relation to you?
Now don't go thinking you have to sit across a table from me at dinner with your arms guarding your plate, but I find that sometimes I get paranoid whenever I'm with the rare person who can eat faster than me. The other day I was with someone who started to dip her hand into my bag of chips, but then started eating them at a rate much faster than me. Rather than maturely and healthily surrending the remainder of the chips, what do you suppose Ms. Chubby started to do? Eat faster too, that's what!!! Oh what a sick, sick disease I have...
I think I should start up a PayPal donation account for myself so that perhaps after reading stories like this, you all might feel compelled to empty your 401(k)'s to contribute. I want to go on Nutri System and get a personal trainer since my diet over 3 months has resulted in a net weight loss of about, oh...5-6 pounds! I exercised nearly every day for this! Sooo not worth it.
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
I think it goes without saying that I was a geek then. Put it this way, I never once pulled an all nighter my entire college career. Why? Because geeks NEVER have too! They study in advance and plan accordingly! I also LOST weight my first year of college and never did gain that freshman fifteen boozing it up. Why? Because in true geek style, I was allergic to alcohol and never drank!
My final point (and if this doesn't convince you, I don't know what will) is that I not only studied in the library, but I also (and I feel like I should whisper this) even had a favorite desk to study in! YES!!! That's right!!! Over time I found that the 4th floor air conditioner was most tolerable, and the southern corner was the most quiet. My younger brother Joseph was an undergraduate at the same school for SIX full years there (and NO, he didn't get his Masters) and probably STILL doesn't know where the building is!
I lied. I have one more example. As I have previously mentioned, I was on the golf team in college. My own coach/teammates elected me to serve on a Student-Athlete Advisory Committee for 2-3 years running. Only the geeks were willing to serve on this committee since every other athlete was probably too busy cleaning out their bongs for the night's festivities. My point is this, if your own peer group of golfers is voting you Head Nerd- you're really at the bottom of the totem pole. I compare this to like being in high school band- and playing the piccolo. You're doomed. Doomed.
Monday, June 20, 2005
Anyway, being a total hick, I figured that the test was much harder than the one I took in Hawaii because unlike the small town I'm from, there are actually freeways, railroads, and seasonal driving conditions here. As a result, I forced myself to study every question until I knew them all (since the prospect of walking 33 miles to work each way or hitchhiking wasn't tempting).
When I got to the DMV to take my written test the clerk asked me which test I wanted to take. I told her, "Oh, you know...the basic one...Class A." She looked at me funny and handed me the test. As I sat down next to a rather large, hairy guy who was sweating profusely while taking his own test, it suddenly dawned on me that a Class A license was NOT the "basic"driver's license. Heh heh...I had actually studied the test required for commerical truckers!!! Yeeee-haaaw! Part of me still wanted to take it so I could you know, hang out at rest stops...chew on straw and bitch with my fellow truckers about having to clean our damned tie rods. But I chickened out and took the easier Class C.
Sunday, June 19, 2005
Since my parents will be visiting in a few weeks, we finally got around to buying a bed for the guest room. We decorated it with stuff we bought in previous years. The rice-paper prints on the wall are from Kyoto, Japan, the pillow cases are from Chiang Mai, Thailand and the blue Asian bedspread is all all the way from a Big Island K-Mart ( great job, Martha!).
The faux-tansu is from Illuminations at the Ala Moana mall (a college graduation gift from my family). A real one would have been a teeny weeny bit more, maybe around $15,000-30,000. Because space is so limited in Japan, stairs often doubled as storage, but as you can see- in a very decorative way. One of those vases on the tansu is from Ross for $10, the other was was purchased in China and cost a lot more (the Chinese postal service has quite the little racket going on there... in order to ship it back home we had to buy "government-approved tape, box, packing materials, etc.). Can you tell which vase is which? Don't worry, neither can I.
Last bit about the "art" (I say that because if I recall correctly, one generally does not "haggle" at flea markets when purchasing authentic art)...as you can see, we have a Russian matryoshka (hand-painted wooden nesting doll). We got it from a hotel gift shop in Moscow. I know, I know...who goes souvenir shopping in a hotel gift shop (especially one that charges $16 an HOUR for internet access)?!!! Anyway, "funny" story about that. I saw the one in the picture above early into our trip and desperately wanted it. A few days later, I found a less expensive one about a third less at an outdoor marketplace. I bought it even though I didn't really want it (I felt pressure from Roy to get the cheaper one).
The night before we left Moscow we were riding the subway back to our hotel at about 9:30pm. I was sadly telling Roy how I secretly didn't really want the matryoshka we bought. Then he did the sweetest thing ever- we hopped off the car and rode back in the direction of the city. We ran like hell back to the hotel (hoping and praying it would still be open since we were leaving to St. Petersburg early the next morning). It was. He bought me my overpriced dolls. So now I have two sets. Moral of the story? Roy is nice and practical. I am not.
Saturday, June 18, 2005
However, last week he got busted. He didn't wear his sunscreen and it was a scorcher! He came home with the very distinct outline of a tank top on his back with bright red arms and shoulders. However, I did not know this. Why? I am glad you asked- this is because he knew I would rant about it, so he deliberately wore a t-shirt to bed for 2-3 nights to hide it from me until it was, and I quote him here, "less noticeable." Less noticeable??!!! It's been a week and it still looks like he had a white tank top spray painted on his body! (He told me he couldn't believe I never caught on since apparently, he has NEVER worn a shirt to bed in 8 years. Add "not very observant" to the list of my flaws.)
Anyway, to make matters worse, he is under doctor's orders not to play tennis because of his 2-3 knee surgeries. He basically has no cartilige left in his knees, which is why he is already in the early stages of arthritis in his knees. He's also been told that when the arthritis worsens, he'll end up in a wheelchair.
I've already told his enabling, tennis partner (my brother Joseph) that if they continue to play together, he's going to have to sign up for wheelchair pushing duty. He seemed to think that was amusing until I told him that a**-wiping duty goes hand in hand with that. Now he's trying to find a new partner. Just kidding. They're actually out playing tennis right now. See how much clout I have around here?
Friday, June 17, 2005
- Everytime I'm driving up the highest ramp of a major freeway interchange I almost feel like I'm lifting off the face of the Earth when I can gaze down and see all the cars on ramps below me. I still get a thrill every time this happens.
- I also don't mind getting stuck at railroad crossings. I love hearing the rhythmic sound of the train cars passing over the tracks. It soothes me and I like to reminisce about all of the times I rode trains for days. I loved being able to doze off and on for days on end and then suddenly find myself in a new country! Very surreal.
On the flip side...I had a funny realization the other day while driving home. When I was young, my parents often drove us to the other side of the island to do our clothes shopping (they had a Sears and Penny's, we didn't). Our family would usually make a big production of it by packing a cooler full of soft drinks and snacks for the 2-hour trip. Now, I call a 2-hour trip my DRIVE HOME FROM WORK.
I have learned that each commuter has their own techniques for dealing with the pain. Some smoke, some chat on their cell phones or if you're like Roy, watch movies on a DVD player. Since I don't smoke, have a low-usage cell plan, and last I checked, Dodge Caravans weren't sporting the latest in dashboard technology- I cope by singing along to the radio.
I no longer have any inhibition about doing so. You can catch me on the 60 East on certain days singing my lungs out all the way home. I used to think those people who sang out loud using their steering wheel as a drum were looney, but yep, that looney person would be me. If you see me, feel free to tune in to KIIS FM and sing along.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Then I think about my hypothetical child (who I hope and pray isn't hideous because they have to pay for all my past mistakes in life) throwing fries all over the ground at Chili's and my having to scrape them off the grungy carpet on my hands and knees...and I think, I can wait another 5 years. If that old lady in India can do it at age 65, then damnit, so can I.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
- Packages of frozen lau lau (steamed pork wrapped in taro leaves)
- Hawaiian sweetbread (taro or guava flavored)
- Hurricane popcorn (popcorn with seaweed sprinkled on it)
- Arare (Japanese rice crackers)
- Mochi/chi chi dango (sweet rice cakes)
- Maui Style potato chips
- Li hing mui gummy bears (gummies sprinkled with dried plum powder)
- Chocolate-covered mac nuts (not for us, but for all of our newfound friends who won't eat the other stuff)
- And of course, Spam (yes, yes, we know you can buy it here...but that's not the point)
Because I grew up eating such a wide variety of ethnic food, it was very, very difficult for me to accept having to eat a sandwich. I rarely ate them as a child. When I visited my first Subway in high school I thought, "Who on earth would pay money to eat a sandwich?!!" Now I'm a huge Subway fan! But in Hawaii, the equivalent of the sandwich is the bento or mixed plate. We flock in droves to local drive-ins and load up on chicken tonkatsu, teriyaki beef, and kalua pig. If I had ever piped in, "Boy! I sure would love a veggie sandwich from Quizno's!" I think I would have silenced a room and been asked to leave the island. Case in point, the first Subway that opened in my hometown of Kona closed down shortly thereafter. People just weren't digging it. Have you ever heard of a Subway closing?!!! They are the fastest growing chain in America for chrissake!!!So for the last few weeks we have been dutifully shoving fistfuls of Hawaiian food down our throats in anticipation of the 15-overloaded suitcases full of goodies for us. You see, we have quite possibly the longest umbilical cords in the country. So long as our parents are alive and near us, we will NEVER be permitted to pay for our own dinners, gas, admissions tickets or groceries. I could be 50 and I'll have to fight my 80-year old father for the check!
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
In protest, I told them my Hawaiian name was"Hauna kukai," which loosely translated, means "stink poo poo." Can you believe they said no?!?! I tried again with "Make haole" ("Die, visitors!") but was again denied. I finally gave in and settled on "Ka'iulani," the last Hawaiian princess. It just wasn't as fun though...
Monday, June 13, 2005
In my rookie days I used to play the"Ahhh, very sorry! Only...speak...Japanese!" act. I learned very quickly that this ruse does NOT work since most touts are more proficient in their Japanese than I am.
Thankfully, I have learned that I can always rely on my good 'ol Hawai'i olelo (Hawaiian language) to get me out of a jam!!! As someone who successfully passed one semester of Hawaiian language in college (now, now...the grade is not important... Fine! If it's that important- it was a 'D'!!! They made me quit after one semester because I missed over half my classes) and two Hawaiian History courses (one of which I had to take from my own father in 9th grade, but let's not get into that mortification right now), I think it's safe to say that most people would compare my language abilities to those of an ancient, Hawaiian chanter.
I say this jokingly because really, there are only 12 letters in the entire Hawaiian alphabet-
a e i o u h k l m n p w, and the okina (')
And, like any good elementary school student in Hawaii, I also learned the obligatory 4-5 songs in Hawaiian that I can now "speak" convincingly enough to the touts (I have found that this works best when accompanied by wild hand gestures). Not surpringly, most touts usually scurry away from a crazy, Japanese lady babbling in a bad Hawaiian accent. If they're particularly resilient, a few odd grunts and twitches from me will generally seal the deal and they'll quickly take off. My brother Joseph taught me that you should never be afraid of crazy people, all you have to do is be crazier than them and even they'll leave you alone. So true, so true...
Saturday, June 11, 2005
We had just pulled into the country and were trying to book a hotel for under $25-30 a night. This should easily get you a decent room in Eastern Europe, but we didn't want to stay in a youth hostel. This is because the one and only time we attempted this, Roy woke up in the middle of the night with his three Chinese roommates standing over him pointing at his nose and offering him some type of drug (he had a cold). And though I was "lucky" enough to be alone in the female room, I didn't feel that way at 4:00am when some Chinese guy started banging on my door for no reason. Since my Chinese language skills then and now are limited to counting from one to ten and saying "Happy New Year," this was not very helpful in determining why the Chinese man was at my door.
Anyway, the reservationist in Warsaw finally found us a room that we booked on the spot since she assured us that the rooms were clean and the hotel was in a good location. The funny part is, as we were putting our backpacks back on and walking out the door she called out, "Oh, and the hotel is a boat!"
We were a bit nervous hearing this, but also a little excited. We found the boat pretty easily since it was docked on a river in the heart of the city. We LOVED it. It was large, clean, quiet, and swayed gently on the river. Because we were so near town we would catch the bus in the evenings to watch American movies. This is how we caught Zackazany Uwok (Keeping the Faith) and Patriota (The Patriot) as a new release for only $3-4 per person!
Thursday, June 09, 2005
Tomorrow I am sending in my brokerage agreement to ScottTrade. I am sure I'll be unconsolable in 6 months when I lose half of my seed money, but I have always had this insatiable need to touch that hot burner. ALWAYS.
I plan on doing this armed only with my trusty Kiplingers magazine and intuition (famous last words...). Wish me luck and PLEASE- set aside a few canned goods to send us this Thanksgiving!
Sunday, June 05, 2005
I should mention that I am no contender for American Idol, so this makes it especially painful for others to have to sit through. You'd think I would be sympathetic to these people since my real name is Jolene (Josie is what my parents call me). I myself have had to hear every horrible rendition of Dolly Parton's 'Jolene.'
Oh well. I never claimed to be cool. In fact, I am well aware of the fact that I am very, very uncool. Here's how I know:
1 - I like eating lunch alone (so I can read the paper). I tend to avoid the group lunch thing. I also bring lunch from home everyday. If you work in an office, you have to agree, this is not cool.
2 - I prefer sitting in the front row of class so I can see/hear better and ask questions (except when I plan on ditching out early of my work seminars, then it's all about that back seat near the door).
3 - Today I got great pleasure out of cleaning the dirt out of all the gross glass sliding door tracks. I even trimmed the carpet fibers that were sticking up against the tracks. This is more a sickness than dorky but I think it's worth pointing out that I even did it.
4 - I am still scared of the dark.
5 - I don't like to dance.
6 - I don't drink (this is a biological thing). I get violently ill from even drinking a sip. Don't ask. It wasn't pretty in college having to learn this the hard way.
7 - I don't buy nice clothing. I don't care about fashion. If it's a dark color, doesn't require dry cleaning and is wrinkle free, I'm so there.
8 - I prefer reading at home to going out.
9 - I secretly crave Hollywood gossip. I get Us Weekly and People. Everyone has their guilty pleasures. I tend to indulge the ones that aren't salty and made from potatoes.
10 - You already know this one if you've been reading for awhile- I drive a mini van (and don't have kids). This is probably the most dork-worthy distinction I have.
Beat that people! I'd love it if you'd share some of your own dorky tendencies!
Saturday, June 04, 2005
Anyway. I lost 2 more pounds for a total of 7. Very lame for two full months of exercise. Of course this could have something to do with the fact that I don't diet. Perhaps that's why NO ONE has noticed yet. I've even tried dropping the subtle comments to others like, "Boy I SURE AM sore from yesterday's walk! But it's worth it since I've lost a few pounds!" Silence. Not even the courtesy, "You know, I thought YOU had!" Damn them. LEARN TO TAKE THE BAIT, PEOPLE!!!
I have compiled a list of foods that are 100% responsible for me being overweight. In short order: tortilla chips, Pringles, buttered microwave popcorn, pasta and Fast Break candy bars. I rarely eat red meat, sweets, baked goods or fried/fast food. I don't drink alcohol or soda at all- so I must be the healthiest chubby person alive. What a great distinction.
Friday, June 03, 2005
"It's Aloha Friday...no work till Monday...
Doo bee doo, doo bee doo, doo bee doo bee doo be doo!"
Considering all the things that have caught on here from Hawaii, I can't for the life of me figure out why Aloha Friday has not. I know this because I am consistently the ONLY person loitering impatiently in the office doorway at 4:59pm on Fridays!
I mean, half the companies have already adopted 'casual Friday' attire (psst, we call that 'everyday attire' in Hawaii). Why not take that final leap and let everyone bail out around 4:00? That would be true Hawaiian style, trust me. Well, that and allowing everyone to roll in around 9 instead of 8 and letting them take 2-hour lunch breaks.
Of all the things I miss most about Hawaii, Aloha Friday and poi are the highest. I think I'm gonna embark on a one-man campaign to bring them both to your doorstep! (I am a giver after all.) I expect anyday now you'll see me on a freeway sign- poised on a taro leaf (with a body double of course, my own body would be too much temptation for all you guys AND gals) with a thick purple paste on my upper lip with a big "EAT POI" tag line on it.
Thursday, June 02, 2005
Anyway, we spent 2-3 days in a slum hotel room in Hong Kong with a black bathtub...and no, it wasn't a pimpin' black bathtub, it was covered in black mildew. I spent the first day suffering from some form of food or water poisoning. All I remember is the room spinning and Roy sulking because I couldn't get out of bed for a day.
Once we got into Beijing we learned the hard way that there is no such thing as "forming a line" in China. We were literally crushed and mangled trying to get onto every bus or train. Heaven help you if you went to McDonalds for a 30-cent ice cream cone like we did. I thought Roy was gonna deck someone! He would have to plant his legs firmly apart (for balance) and then have to elbow everyone as they tried to shove their way around him. When he was finally first in line at the counter, people would still try to shout their orders over his shoulder!
We got semi-conned only once. We purchased a private minibus tour out to a quiet, non-touristy section of the Great Wall. What we actually got was SHOVED into a 1980's model Toyota minivan with NINETEEN other foreigners in 100 degree heat with no air conditioning. I know, I know...how do you fit THAT many people in a minivan?! WELL IT'S EASY TO DO IN CHINA! You force them to sit 5 to a row and then turn 5-gallon buckets upside down in every spare crevice to create more seats! As a result, our van hit top speeds of about 15 mph and charged up hills at about 5 mph. It became a THREE hour drive each way. My god.
Aside from that, the trip was awesome (I have to summarize here because so much happenned):
- I often attracted crowds that would line up to see me whenever I wrote in my daily travel journal. I guess no one could understand why a Chinese girl (I am 1/4 Chinese but to them, I am full) would be writing in English. I can't see the mystery myself, but we noticed that no matter where I wrote, a crowd would form. It was so bizarre, people would actually stare (and no one is subtle or discreet in China), call their friends over and soon thereafter, a crowd/line would form. Roy actually has a picture of me with a crowd around me at a temple. My line even beat the one at the Temple of Heaven...ha! I begged him to take a picture whenever this happenned but he refused (jealous I bet).
- It turns out my fear of imprisonment was not all that silly- I was nearly tossed into the back of police van. When we were in Tiananmen Square (of all places!) I was taking a picture of Roy (who was posing in front of a very large Mao painting) when a police van drove into the crowded square, grabbed a man and shoved him into the back of the van. I naturally froze with the camera accidentally pointed in their general direction and got screamed at in Chinese while they pointed angrily at my camera.
- I got yelled at for leaning on a wall by a security guard at a train station. ???? I know, I couldn't figure it out either. I swear, I get yelled at at least once in every Asian country for breaking some kind of unknown protocol I should "know." (I was once nearly given an anal probe in Myanmar for looking like a Burmese trying to sneak into Thailand. Sigh.)
- We were harrassed the ENTIRE hike UP and DOWN the Great Wall by a tout selling $20 disposable cameras and $8 postcards. He followed us yelling with his fist in the air until Roy did his best "The Rock" staredown with him (again, kinda funny, but also scary because his little tout mafia croonies were everywhere) for a full 20 seconds before he finally left us alone.
- A little girl became a barnacle on my body! I was walking around and before I knew what was happenning, she had shoved her hand into my pocket and because though nothing was there, twisted her hands into my shirt/shorts and refused to let go unless I gave her something. I was horrified. I couldn't get her to let go! Roy had to run back over to me and forcibly remove her from me. At first I felt bad for her since he had to really rip her off of me, but then I got mad. It was incredibly violating to have someone shove their hands into your clothing and then refuse to let go! We didn't give her anything as a result. It was just too agressive.
Otherwise, the trip was just dandy! China was clean, safe, and fascinating. I would LOVE to go back someday (I am famous there after all).
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
The funny thing is, I don't *really* care that much. This is because I am still completely enamoured with the beauty of my lamp. I love it! To celebrate our 8th anniversary, Roy also bought me red roses, cooked a wonderful dinner, and wrote me a nice long card. I uh...also did something very special for him. Ahem. I uh, bought him a book. A very nice book. It's all about Egypt. Which I started reading the moment he opened it. I know, I know...a little tacky. But at least I waited until he opened it to start reading it, since I know he would have complained about all the pages being earmarked.
The truth of the matter is, I'm not the most sentimental person. My mother (my own mother!) has accused me of being heartless. Aren't mothers only supposed to see the good in their children? Even mothers of murderers insist their little pookie bear is a precious angel! Mine insists I am cruel and heartless because when I was 5 years old she had to wrestle my stuffed animals away from me because I was trying to throw them all away. She's also had to rescue my high school yearbooks from the trash on more than one occasion. Roy also just helpfully pointed out that I am still unsure (after eight years of marriage) whether his birthday is in March or May.
Pay no attention to those people. I assure you that while somewhat unsentimental, I am still full of warmth. I tear up watching Extreme Makeover Home Edition! I rescue little ducklings! I bake doggie biscuits! I once recycled a paper bag (1987)! And I usually weave out of the way when a small animal darts in front of my car!