growing

Several weeks ago, I learned I was pregnant.

This is good news. Happy news. Amazing news. After hearing several of my friends talk about their troubles getting pregnant, I feel really fortunate that we had no problems.

But, of course, I can’t help but be nervous. I worry about miscarriage. I worry about some other problem with the baby. I worry that I’m going to do something wrong. I know I need to stop myself from worrying this much.

The other problem is that so far, this pregnancy has not been easy. Well, it hasn’t been as horrible as some stories I’ve heard. But it’s been rough. I have a huge rash on my back–and my back hurts. I’m tired all the time. But the thing that kills me is that I am constantly hungry–but nothing tastes good. This is the gift from a mischievous witch.

I know I shouldn’t complain. I should be happy. Thrilled. And I am. But I can’t help but whine. This body of mine is no longer mine. I don’t recognize it. It is acting in ways that it never has before. And I know this is just the beginning.

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fortune tellers

My mother is a firm believer in fortune tellers. She also has various superstitions that she subscribes to–some of which I have unwittingly adopted. But it is the fortune tellers that I remember the most.

I can’t say that I’ve been dragged to see these fortune tellers, because I usually enjoyed the visits. When I was younger, I was worried about finding a boyfriend, doing well in school, getting a good job, etc. In retrospect, considering the concerns that I have now, those worries all pretty much take care of themselves. Of course, when you’re young, you can’t believe that–and you hate it when the old people tell you that you’re young and should just enjoy your youth.

(Now┬áI try to stop myself from saying the same thing to young people–but I can’t help but think like those old people.)

Most of time, the future that was predicted for me was very wrong. Although, I remember one fortune teller surprising me when she stated that I was in love with someone, and the name of the person started with the letter “L.” I just nodded–but it was actually true. And something that I was trying not to admit to myself–because I really should not have been in love with “L” because he was in love with someone else.

Lately, Mom has been talking with a feng-shui master, who also dabbles in fortune telling. Well, it actually translates more into something like “calculating destiny”–although that sounds too heavy. Basically, there is an ancient Chinese method (isn’t it always an ancient Chinese method?) of fortune telling, based on the time and date that you were born and your sex. It divides up your life into 12-year periods (I think it’s 12) and there is a sort of counting mechanism where you put symbols in each period and then you read what you’ve come up with. I’m sure there is a good English translation for this somewhere–but I don’t know what it is.

Anyway, the past several times I’ve talked with Mom, she has pressed upon me to hurry up and have a kid–as if all I need to do is push a button and boom, I’m pregnant. What makes me laugh is that she is very serious about it, because the feng-shui master has told her that this is my last opportunity to have a kid–it is now or never. Of course, this is not much of a prediction, considering that I’m 38 years old. Anyone could have told me that this is my last chance.

But I’ve also thought about what a good prediction it is–because it can’t be wrong. Either I get pregnant–and the feng-shui master is correct–because it was my last chance. Or, I don’t get pregnant–and the feng-shui master is correct–because I waited too long and missed my chance.

Similarly, the feng-shui master told my mom that there is a little boy, waiting to be born. And that this little boy wants to be my son. But, if I wait too long, the little boy will get impatient and leave. Which means I’ll have a little girl. Once again, another very good prediction where the feng-shui master is certain to be right.

Although I can see how conveniently worded these predictions are, I don’t completely ignore them. Sometimes, they really stick with me. But I have to remember that there are still choices that I can make. Fortune tellers can only tell me part of my story.

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food perspectives

Through the power of Google+, I randomly read all sorts of things. Sometimes, I am a bit overwhelmed by it, since it is one more thing to look at on the internet–and I am already quite addicted. But there are also some really interesting things you’ll find on there. For example, I read this Quora answer, and it made me think about how Americanized our food is. But at the same time, now that I’m living here in Australia–food is a similarly Australianized.

Grinchy and I think that one of the best things about the US is that there are immigrants from all over the world–and they bring their food with them. This means we get to try food from almost every country, with varying degrees of authenticity. Grinchy is from Mexico, and so I’ve been lucky to have true Mexican food. Which is amazing. But, I have to admit, there are times when I want the very Americanized version of Mexican food–with the chips and not-very-spicy salsa, and a giant veggie burrito.

[Grinchy insists that burritos are not from Mexico. I think there is some debate about it. But he doesn't remember ever seeing them as a kid. And if you talk with other Mexicans, they would agree with him.]

Now that we’re in Sydney, we similarly have the fortune of being able to try food from around the world. But we have definitely noticed that food here is designed for a different palate. It took us 8 months to find a Thai restaurant where the food was actually spicy. We learned to specifically request more spice in our Thai food–and even so, rarely would it more than mild. While I understand that not all Thai food is intended to be spicy, I also have been to Thailand and have seen first-hand the chili sauce that people liberally put on their food.

I was a bit surprised that condiments here are sweeter. Everyone knows that Australians love their Vegemite–which is actually savory/salty. But the ketchup here (which they call tomato sauce) is sweeter than in the US–and I think the mayo is too. French fries (called chips here) often come with sweet chili sauce and sour cream. The sweet chili sauce has the color of chili–but has no semblance of heat.

I think this sweetness pervades the other cuisines. If an Indian restaurant wants to keep their customers happy, they need to give their diners what they want. Which in Australia means less spice and more sugar. I think Americans probably have a similar palate–but I knew how to get the food that I wanted. Here, I’m still learning.

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i hate Chase Bank

Dear Chase telephone representative:

I am sorry for being angry and pissy at you. But, I couldn’t help it. I was mad. Really mad. I know it’s not your fault. You don’t make the stupid policies. You (Mr. Telephone Representative) are not the problem. You helped me the best that you could. But let me tell you, that bank you work for SUCKS.

I mean really. I opened a bank account and decided to use online bill payment to pay a bill. I thought this would be a relatively straight forward action. I logged in. I filled out all of the necessary information. And I hit submit. I thought that the bill was paid–and happily went on my way.

Little did I know that Chase decided that my bill payment activity looked fraudulent.

I understand that my bill payment might have looked a little strange. I understand that you want to prevent fraud. But could you please pick up the fucking phone and tell me that you aren’t going to pay my bill? Apparently, while you are happy to call for any suspicious activity on my credit card, you won’t on my checking account.

Hmm…I’m not sure why you would treat the accounts differently. I know. Maybe because you’re responsible for any fraudulent charges after $50. Whereas I am screwed if someone (who isn’t me) takes money out of my account. Regardless. Please treat me as well as you would like to be treated.

Instead, Chase decided to suspend my online account. So, I couldn’t log in. BTW, I also didn’t get any email telling me that my account was going to be suspended. Chase made the assumption that if I’m paying my bills online, then I must be logging into my checking account often.

But I’m not. Because frankly, I have better things to do than to log in every day. Or every other day. Some of us are busy. Some of us assume that our bank will call us and tell us if they aren’t going to pay a bill. Or if they think there is suspicious activity on my account. That would be helpful.

Instead, I find out that the bill didn’t get paid because it’s late–and I get a late notice in the mail. So I attempt to log into my online account to see what happened. But, of course, Chase had already suspended my account and didn’t tell me. So then I call the number in their error message–which tells me that the phone number has been discontinued. Helpful. Thankfully, there is more than one phone number on the error message. So, I call another one. Eventually get a person–who can’t help me. So, I’m transferred to you so that you can clear my suspicious activity.

I’m fine with all of this process. In fact, I’m glad that Chase is watching out for me. Because I would be really mad if it was someone else who was making checks out to themselves. However, I would have liked some notice from Chase that they weren’t going to pay my bill. Is that too much to ask?

I know, Mr. Telephone Representative, this not your fault. You can’t do anything about it. You must get a lot of calls from pissed off Chase customers.

Sorry I was added to the list.

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There is something about the lettering that I love.

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things I wish I could tell my mom

It may not make any sense, but I have learned that I cannot truly have conversations with my mom. As much as I love her (and I know she loves me), we simply cannot communicate properly. Either she gets mad, or I get mad, or we both scream at each other. It’s horrible.

I don’t know if it’s a language problem. I think we understand the words, but not necessarily the meaning behind them. Actually, that’s not the problem. We understand the words, and we attribute secret meanings to them. Secret bad meanings. For some reason, it’s as if I say something, and my mom assumes I’m saying some other bad thing–and vice versa.

So, I have given up. After years of trying to have meaningful conversations with my mother, I have decided it is time to give up. I cannot change her. She is who she is, wonderful and crazy. And I know that I don’t know how to express myself to her in a way that she can understand (without attributing secret bad meanings).

Instead, I’m writing this post to put it out there. Maybe the universe can somehow let her know these things.

1. Mom, you are a smart and talented woman. But you also make mistakes. Please accept them as yours. It makes it easier for all of us. Please learn from them as well.

2. Mom, you are a kind and caring person. But you have an odd way of showing this sometimes. Please consider the words you are saying and how hurtful they can be, even though you are trying to help. Your intentions are good, but your words still hurt.

3. Mom, you deserve happiness and peace. But I cannot tell if you are happy. I cannot tell if you have peace. I hope you do. But sometimes I worry. You are so focused on other things–maybe they are to distract you from your misery. I hope not. But I wish you every happiness that you are capable of.

4. Mom, you and I are different people, with some similarities. But it is the differences that I wish you could accept. I know you don’t understand me. I know that I don’t understand you. After all, we can’t communicate properly our real feelings and thoughts. Just superficial stuff is the best we can do. And I realize that the idea of talking about “real feelings” doesn’t make much sense to you. That’s okay. But we both need to simply accept one another, especially our differences. Neither one of us is going to change who we are.

5. Mom, please know that I love you. Please know that I appreciate everything that you’ve done for me. I know we fight a lot. Every time we fight, I kick myself for getting so angry. I know you won’t be around forever. Please know that the decisions I make are not my way of rejecting you, or your choices. I simply see the world differently than you do. The choices I make reflect who I am. They do not reflect my thoughts of you.

6. Mom, thank you for giving me a lot of freedom. I’ve read about the “tiger mother” idea. You were firm and strict, and you definitely pushed. But ultimately, I was able to do so much. Sure, we fought about a lot of my choices. And I know dad also fought for me as well. But I think I always knew it was my choice to make. You regretted letting me go off to college on the other coast, spend a semester in another country, move to other cities, etc. But I am so glad that I never felt like you would really stop me.

Thanks Mom. I wish I could tell these things to you in a way you could truly understand. But, I know we’d fight instead–and we would both be angry–and we would both feel misunderstood–and we would both lose the message. So here are the words on the electronic web that somehow connects us all. Hopefully in some mysterious way, the message will reach you.

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life lesson learned from cycling

Last weekend, hubby and I took a course to help us gain confidence in riding our bicycles in the city. Admittedly, I dragged hubby with me–since he wasn’t particularly interested. But I was very glad that we took the course.

There were 4 main things they wanted to teach us:

  1. See and be seen
  2. Communicate
  3. Be predictable
  4. Bike courteously

These are really in order to make sure that you are safe on the road. They seem pretty basic and obvious–but somehow they make more sense when they are listed.

But what really struck me was something that was repeatedly mentioned during the course. Make a choice when you ride. Don’t get pushed around by the cars. If you want to move over to let cars past, that’s great. But it should be your choice. Make sure you are riding in a position where you get to make that choice, rather than having the cars make that choice for you. Ride confidently.

This means that as a cyclist, you are essentially riding in the middle of the road. Because if you are to the side, it’s a passive position and cars will think they can easily pass you–whether you like it or not. It always seemed like a very aggressive position to me–right there in the middle–taking up as much space as possible–almost challenging the cars.

But it is like life. There are times when we feel pushed into a position where we don’t get to make a choice–or at least we don’t feel like we have a choice. But we do have that choice–even when it may seem like we don’t. Sometimes we need that reminder. Don’t get pushed around. Make a choice.

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I don’t mind the clashing of colors–maybe because I care more about the caffeine I’m about to drink.

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tenacity

I love how nature finds a way to survive, even in some of the oddest places.

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old tiles in old buildings

Almost every time I go into the CBD, I walk through the Queen Victoria Building. When I first saw it, I thought it was some sort of government building. It is an imposing structure. But then I realized it was a shopping mall. Since it is air-conditioned, I often walk through it instead of around it–because the cooler air is a nice break from the summer heat in Sydney.

Plus, the tiled floors are beautiful.

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