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you can never go home again

I have all these wonderful posts ideas for posts lined up for before the end of the year. Alas, I am in turbo-boost Catch Up mode: In less than 10 days, I had the wonderful experience of flying on 6 different airplanes. Not accustomed to being a road warrior, to rapidly adjusting to different time zones, or to packing/unpacking in quick succession, I feel like I am walking through a mist, on unstable ground. Or it could simply be I am walking through crap collected from my trips strewn on the floor in my house since I soon gave up on unpacking. Nevertheless, I do not want to miss my once-a-week WTF Wednesday feature.

(Naturally I am cheating by Backdating this post. Good thing Sarbanes–Oxley Act does not apply to blog posting…)

So here is a composition of random pictures taken at my random WTF moments:

Considering how you call yours a Chinese restaurant, I surely hope one of you are, or at least, the food is...

A question we will still be asking next year, and the next, and the next...

"The Dog and Bentley"

This picture may deserve some explanation: I was enjoying a nice bowl of frozen desert with large dark tapiocas aka “pearls” (which I am completely obsessed with and would gladly tell anybody that I had 6 bowls/cups of those in 2 days when I was in Taipei, on top of everything else I ate) at a sidewalk stand/shop. The shop owner during the day keeps his dog on the sidewalk, as you can see, with a makeshift cardboard-box doghouse. Just as I was admiring the very well-behaved dog, I saw that across the street is a Bentley dealership with a fancy showcase room. I found this an interesting juxtaposition. It says so much about Taipei.

Serisouly. How much do you want to discuss your menstrual cycle?

This is the “Menstrual Care” section at a drug store. I have not “lived” in Taiwan since 1993 and I am intrigued by the resurgence, modernization, and popularity of herbal medicinal health culinary supplement drinks dedicated to menstrual care. This belief has been around for thousands of years, that beauty (read: SLENDER FIGURE, YOUNG-LOOKING, GOOD and PALE SKIN) needs to be cultivated from inside. Not the “inner beauty” crap, y’all. You need to take the herbs. And you need to take care of your menstrual cycles. THAT is what I have been missing for living abroad. Seriously. Mine is all out of whack. Only I did not realize that until I was confronted with shelves of herbal drinks. Nowadays it seems to be OK to openly talk about the “condition”, and though I am far from being a prude, the “openness” caught me off-guard. The WTF yet heart-warming moment came when my nephew, who is only 9 years younger than I am, brought me a case of these drinks, telling me, “These are very effective! My girlfriend takes these. They taste really good, she said, and she does not suffer from menstrual cramps any more. Her skin has also improved a lot. You need to start taking these yourself!”

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I bet’ya that I was given the best Christmas present this year. Hands down.

I will be flying home. Today. By myself.

A while ago I wrote about how I wish I could go home and see my parents. Many of you commented that I should just take the trip… Before it’s too late. I want to thank you all for bringing me to my senses. Really. I asked myself: What’s stopping me? All the “I can’ts” are just excuses. Excuses. Excuses.

After the plane rides and time spent waiting at the airports, I will only have two full days over there. But I am content. Because I will be home. BY MYSELF. I don’t have to translate for anybody and feel being pulled on by both sides. Feeling guilty towards all involved. Feeling schizophrenic.

My mother, who is almost 80 and still behaves like a school girl sometimes (Seriously. At one point, one should just admit to the fact that anti-aging cosmetic creams are just not going to do anything for you any more, no matter how expensive… But, yes,  of course I have 3 jars in my luggage that I am bringing home for my mother) told me over the phone,

“Just don’t sleep when you are here. Sleep on the plane!”

I wish she could speak English because I wanted her to say, “Sleep is overrated anyway.”

“I will not even bother with my jet lag. We will hit the night market as soon as I land. And I can sleep during the day.” I replied.

She fully approved of my plan.

The trouble is: I haven’t even left yet and I am already dreading saying goodbye to my folks. I know already that on the day when I come back, I will be a crying mess, because my dad will cry for sure, he’s such a softie, and when he cries, I cry too. Once we get it going, there is no stopping us. Very annoying… On account of that, I am having an early start on my own already…

Seriously. Me. WTF.

* Miles calculated according to United Airline’s mileage display. 14 hours + 4 hours.

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November 27, 2009

in random

I have been thinking about my parents a lot lately, especially yesterday. Thanksgiving does that to you, I guess.

In all honesty, I try not to think about them because when I do, the sense of guilt soon becomes too overwhelming: I have been lost to them since 1993 when I came to the U.S. for graduate school. The originally temporary stint abroad that was supposed to last only two years became the reality of me and them separated by the Pacific Ocean. And, oh, yeah, the land mass from here to the West Coast. Tenuously connected through phone calls, calculated according to a 14-hour time zone difference.

I sometimes wonder whether my father had regretted telling me, “Don’t come home for the summer. Travel around the U.S. You will be home less than a year anyway.” THAT was the summer I met my husband…

Sometimes I get upset at myself on behalf of my parents. Then I turn towards my own children and warn them, abruptly,

“When you grow up, if you move to a different continent, I am going to be really, really, really mad at you!” My teeth gnashing.

I’d walk away and hide myself in the bathroom, work myself into tears, remember this is probably how my parents feel, then become even more upset and turn into a hysterical mess.


I did not realize my father is left-handed until this March when we visited my parents. They noticed that Mr. Monk was writing with his left hand.

“He’s left-handed? I guess it is ok nowadays to write with your left hand. Your father is left-handed too.” My mother said over the phone when I was back in the U.S.

“No. He is NOT!” I defended myself, against an accusation of inattentiveness that was not there.

“Oh yes he is. He is supposed to be left-handed. He writes with his right hand, indeed. But, you have never noticed? he uses scissors and knives with his left hand.”

Of course I have never noticed it. I left home when I was twenty-four. I was too young, too educated, too busy to live my life to notice my parents. As I get older and know better, however, I am not there to catch up.

Ever since that exchange, I often try to remember my father opening a letter with a pair of scissors (He does not believe in letter openers) or dissecting a pork shoulder roast (his favorite) with a cleaver. I imagine him using his left hand.

I don’t know how to explain to my husband or my boss that I really need to fly home because I need to see my father use his left hand…

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