Category Archives: Musings

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 I 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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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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overwhelmed by information

There is too much to read, to look at, to surf, and to think. I am having a lot of trouble turning it off. I read the NYTimes, and then I read Lifehacker, and then I read some blogs, and then I read the Huffington Post, and then it just keeps going.

I’ve determined that I really need to prioritize. I need to simply draw the line somewhere. Maybe I won’t read everything that is interesting. Or listen to all that there is to listen to. But, I do also need to live my life. I can’t just spend all my time absorbing all of this information.

But damn, it is hard.

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Failure of Language

I was talking with a friend the other day, and we were talking about something that she is doing that requires conquering her fears and facing additional fears. And I told her “I’m proud of you” but really, it’s not quite the right word to express how I felt.

It seemed a bit patronizing to say “I’m proud of you.” After all, she is not my child. I have nothing to do with her actions. I’m just a friend who is happy to know someone like her–and who feels lucky to have friends like her.

But “proud” is the only word I could think of. What I really wanted to say was: “I think what you’re doing is awesome and I’m impressed.” But, we don’t have a word (at least, I don’t know of a word) that can express all of that simply and eloquently.

It reminded me of the time when my friends were starting to lose their virginity. The first word that came to mind was “Congratulations!” But really, not quite the right sentiment. And I recognized then that it wasn’t quite the right word to fit the situation. I really want to say: “I’m so happy for you!” but even that is not quite right. In fact, I really can’t describe what I wanted to express–I suppose some sort of acknowledgment of happiness.

Another failure in language.

This reminds me of the fact that there are often times when I can’t find the right words in English. Granted, I think all languages have the same problem. But, there are times when I know the perfect word in Taiwanese–and I just can’t translate it. Grinchy has the same problem, except he knows the word in Spanish. It just doesn’t translate into English.

I suppose this is the language we are given. At least, hopefully we can still find some way to express the sentiment that we have in the imperfect language that we must use. Hopefully somehow we can communicate effectively, or at least acknowledge that sometimes there are awkward words we have to use instead.

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thoughts on being Asian

I was talking with a friend today about guys who seem to really like Asian women. As in, they seem to only date Asian women. (Sometimes, for some unknown reason, we say that these guys have an Asian fetish.) We both agreed that our initial reaction upon recognizing this behavior in a guy is repulsion.

I think we are grossed out because we are concerned about the various stereotypes about Asian women. Oddly, the stereotypes are a bit contradictory. Asian women are submissive. Asian women are “dragon ladies” in bed. Sometimes, they are combined–sort of like the Asian version of the “virgin-whore.”

But then I considered other ethnicities. When a guy tells me that he really likes Latina women–I nod in agreement. It seems to make sense to me. And maybe I’m wrong, but I assume Latina women would also agree. Of course guys like Latina women. How could they not?

So I wonder if we are grossed out by guys who like Asian women because we think there must be something wrong with them. What’s so attractive about Asian women? They must believe in those annoying stereotypes–that is the only reason they would be attracted to Asian women.

This is warped thinking. Maybe it’s time to alter my initial reaction. Of course guys should like Asian women. We’re sexy and beautiful. Thank you for recognizing our fabulousness.

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what is it about food writing?

I have become completely enamored with books about food and cooking. I suppose this makes sense. The gateway drug was food blogs. There’s something about seeing all those provocative pictures of food. It makes you lick your lips.

I attempted to wean myself from food books by reading This Side of Paradise. But I hated the book. I got annoyed with Amory. What a stupid name for a stupid boy. I got angry at the book. Why the heck is this book a classic?

After weeks of suffering, I couldn’t take it anymore. So, I went looking for another book on my bookshelf and found Heat. And suddenly, I relaxed. This was a book I could enjoy–akin to comfort food. I stayed up reading 60 pages, caught up in the story of food and cooking. It doesn’t matter how many books I’ve read about the same subject. I was enthralled.

Hmmm. I might be addicted to food writing.

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I could be anyone

Sometimes, as I’m wandering around this big city, I feel like a small little ant.

I moved here with Grinchy. And he is the only one I know here. Sure, we have met some people, but I still feel very anonymous. No one knows me here. I could be anyone I wanted to be.

I sat on the top level of a train car. There was no one around me.

I could have danced in the aisles. I could have stood on each chair. I could have streaked the car. Instead, I took pictures.

For some reason, I sometimes get embarrassed about taking pictures. Even though I am just a small little ant, I don’t want to call attention to myself. I just want to blend in.

Even though no one knows me here, and I can be whoever I wanted to be, I am still me.

So, it was nice to have the train car all to myself. I took pictures without a care. Although really, I’d love to take pictures of people, without them noticing. But maybe that’s a bit invasive. People are so interesting though. Maybe if I can figure out how to silence the stupid shutter sound on my camera phone. I promise I won’t take evil pictures.

There is something mesmerizing about watching the scenery pass by a train window. Even better if you can take silly pictures, anonymously.

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stuff to settle down

This post reminds me of a conversation Grinchy and I had recently. After living in Sydney for two months, Grinchy wondered if I felt settled yet. He did, since he started work over a month ago. Whereas I have been wandering the streets of Sydney, exploring neighborhoods (and doing altogether too much shopping).

I felt settled in the sense that I was comfortable in Sydney. I knew where the post office was. We had a bank, and could easily get money. I could relatively quickly rummage through my wallet and bring out the correct cash to pay for things. And I knew how to ride the bus and train.

Despite this, I didn’t quite feel settled. Partially it was because we had our stuff packed up and shipped (via slow boat) to Sydney, and therefore it still had not yet arrived. Which then made us wonder: “How much stuff does it take to feel settled?

There’s the stuff that we couldn’t live without, which we brought on the plane with us.

  • computer
  • MP3 player
  • Kindle
  • camera
  • cell phone (sadly, we had to buy new ones since the ones we had in the US didn’t work here)

Then, there’s the stuff that we really want to have. I was a really missing my cookware. Not that I cooked as often as I’d like to–but it was still annoying to be cooking with crappy pots and pans. The pot (that I used almost every time I cooked) with the wiggly handle was particularly annoying.

And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I am seriously attached to my stuff. Sure, I can live without it, but there are definitely things that I missed. Now that our stuff has finally arrived (yay!) and I’m in the midst of unpacking–unwrapping each item is like opening a present.

But I still have to be careful–and not get too attached to things. I’m already stuffing our apartment to the ceiling. I need to stop finding things that I love when I shop (or surf the web). Because there’s a definitely line between making a house a home, and being so settled down that you’re buried under all your stuff.

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