October 2005

I just have to add this little bit in here…GO BRUINS! We took the win against Stanford this past Saturday by the skin of our teeth in overtime. USC is also still undefeated in their, what, now 30-game winning streak? So the upcoming UCLA-USC game should be very interesting. I suggested putting some money on the game to make it more interesting, and my supervisors promptly informed me that wagering of any kind here is illegal, and apparently remains so even if I were not betting monetarily.

I missed the game this past weekend again because I was at Edgar’s birthday dinner, but college roommie Diana, who was actually AT the game in Stanford, text messaged me updates. “UCLA-Stanford tied 24-24 with almost no time left”. And then, “Bruins won, overtime 34-28!!!”

Does anyone know WHEN the UCLA-USC game is? I should plan something for that Saturday.

My first Halloween was in 1982, 4 months after I immigrated to this country from Asia. I remember just hating makeup, and was pissy that my aunt (Cousin Jen and Cousin Diana’s mom, whom we were residing with at the time) made me wear some as part of my costume. My other aunt had sewn costumes for Diana, Jennifer and me. We were traditional Chinese girls (how far from traditional Chinese girls the three of us are now, haha).

Altho Diana and Jennifer didn’t care for makeup either and I remember that the lipsticky feel bothered them, they were better sports about that than me. In the photo, from left to right are Diana, me, Jeannie, Jennifer and Kai. I can’t believe Jeannie and Kai are MARRIED now.

I didn’t understand the concept of Halloween at the time. We go door to door, say some odd little phrase, and the residents must give us free candy or else we would do mean things to them? That’s how my aunt explained the phrase “trick or treat” to me. Give us a treat or we’ll play a trick on you, we threaten. I received a tutorial on how to say these magical candy-producing words, and we started our trek around the neighborhood.

I do not like Halloween. People in America are mean! They run out of bushes and chase you around their yard, roaring and growling at you. This is not worth the meager bits of candy that we received, which we weren’t allowed to eat anyway because our parents threw away everything that wasn’t in a sealed wrapper for fear that we’d eat poison or hidden razor blades. And what’s up with people handing out 5 pennies taped together in a makeshift roll? The hell were we gonna do with those?!

Don’t forget to “spring back” an hour today, peoples. You don’t want to be EARLY to work tomorrow, do you?

I had an early morning outdoor run with Mr. W today. This is the first time I’d run outdoors in probably a year or more. He said the run’s 3 miles. It’s a very nice open area to run in where he lives. Not a lot of traffic or noise, lots of park-like settings, grass, trees, people walking their dogs, people playing sports. Altho I hit 4 miles on the treadmill a couple of times already, I really wondered whether I could pull off a real outdoor run. It was weird. My brain wanted me to quit, probably out of boredom, but I listened carefully to my body and my body was doing fine.

My mind’s tellin’ me no,
But my body, my body’s tellin’ me yes, baby
I don’t wanna hurt nobody
But there’s something I must confeeeeeess…
I don’t see nuthin’ wrong…

Yup, R. Kelly’s what went thru my mind as I analyzed the fact that my breathing’s fine, the oxygen-exchange is efficient, my legs weren’t aching, but my head just wanted to stop. However, I’m happy to report, I didn’t. And completed the run. At the end, Mr. W gave me a middle-high-5, Special Olympics style. YAY! Good job, me!

After dinner last nite, we all went from downtown Los Angeles back to hometown Diamond Bar to Oak Tree Lanes for bowling. I reminded Edgar (Happy 29th, buddy) in response to his inquiry of “You bowl, right?” that the last time I bowled was 12 years ago on my 17th birthday, and in the same bowling alley parking lot, he had poured “magic dust” in my hair, which was packages of sugar which, because my birthday is in summer, melted promptly into my roots and scalp. “Well, I won’t pour magic dust in your hair today,” he promised. I should’ve poured it in his hair, but he’s too tall for me to reach. As with most people.

Well, as I expected, I bowl worse than the special olympics people we rooted on a couple of weekends ago. All the tips from the men who could actually bowl (Edgar, Tony, Mr. W) did not do much for me. At one point, a fallen pin rolled into the gutter and stayed there. I said, “Uh-oh, we have a problem there,” and Mr. W said, “It’s okay, your ball will knock that right out of the gutter.” Thanks. Altho if anyone could criticize me, I guess he could cuz apparently, he’s really good at bowling.

I challenged him to meet me on the tennis court one of these days. (Altho I’m out of practice there, too. Hmm. Maybe a typing contest, then. Don’t laugh. One of my oldest friends and a reader of this blog actually HAS side-by-side typing contests with her coworkers. During work hours.)

Okay, not really. We ate better than the firemen of yore.

Last nite was my old friend Edgar’s birthday dinner at Engine Co. No. 28, which is an authentic Los Angeles firehouse station turned restaurant. The food is pretty good, classic American like burgers, meatloaf, grilled salmon, sandwiches. The spicy corn chowder was great. However, the atmosphere of the restaurant was surprisingly upscale. Altho they didn’t appear to have a dress code as most people wore jeans, the ambiance was more formal, less fun. They did have an authentic brass fire pole toward the back of the restaurant, however. Mr. W, who had read up on the restaurant beforehand, informed me that the place was built to house horse-drawn fire engines, altho by the time they had finished building, the motorized trucks had come into vogue so the garage never actually had horses in it.

Throughout the evening, people pulled out their various digital cameras to take photos of the restaurant, food and 20 guests. Edgar’s cousin, next to me, took Edgar’s camera so that he and his girlfriend could be in some of the shots. She noted the slowness of the LCD display, and then said, “Oh, no wonder, it’s only a 200” (whatever the model number was). Edgar said, “I know, I know, I gotta get a better one.” His cousin then said, “I shouldn’t talk, I’m still using one of these,” and pulled from her purse one of the larger digital cameras with the lens that you can rotate perpendicular to the camera to change the direction of the lens, such that you can look at the display when you take your own picture. Everyone jumped in to make fun of how archaic her camera is. Edgar yelled from the next table, “What is that, a 2 megapixel?” Everyone laughed.

Technology snobs are funny to watch and listen to.

The doctor I saw at after-hours Urgent Care just happened to be an OB/GYN on the regular staff who just happened to be volunteering for Urgent Care as a part of a pilot outreach program because she normally works regular hours. She was wonderful. Usually I’m happy if they believe what I’m saying and give me the prescription I need, but this one took me under her wing, said it was ridiculous that I go thru this at this frequency and she needs to find out what’s causing it so we can do actual effective prophylactic measures, instead of me doing everything I can to prevent it and still going thru this with this frequency. I asked her what other measures I could take. She said she believes I’m doing everything I can on my own already, so she’s going to see to it that we figure this out at the root and she’s going to keep tabs on me. We talked in detail about some stuff and I learned a lot of things I didn’t know about the “traumas” that would lead to my recurring ailment. She had me do another culture, ordered extra tests, and put me on a new medication. She also gave me her number at work and told me to schedule with her directly so we can get this under control or refer me to a specialist if it turns out to be bigger than she anticipates.

I could cry! I may be done with this crap soon! Yay!

P.S. The medication I’m on, I apparently can’t have dairy with. Or calcium or magnesium, i.e. vitamins. Wow. I’d never heard of restrictions like that. I’ve never wanted ice cream more. Except the time I was on a diet.

Sounds creepy, doesn’t it? “The Waiting Room.” Thunder and lightning, loss of electricity, then a strange glow moves from one window to another. Only when the patients and small Kaiser staff realize they’re locked inside the waiting room does the aging head of the nursing staff find it necessary to inform all present of the gory murder/suicide of another staff member and a patient years ago, and of the strange, inexplicable occurrences since then…the bloody handprints on a ceiling too high for any of the staff to reach, the missing scalpels, the DNA retrieved from tuft of hair last week which matched the DNA of the murdered patient dead and buried half a decade before…
Okay, well anyway, lemme tell you of MY waiting room experience. My appointment was at 5:50p, so I thought if I got there early, I’d be seen early. Wrong. For nearly an hour I sat in extraordinary stillness watching the kids run amock around me as patients who checked in after me were called in. Next to the check-in windows was a flu shot table. The bored nurses giving the flu shots invited various patrons to their table with shouts of, “You get a flu shot this year already, honey? Ya want one? We just need to see your Kaiser card, dear. Don’t worry, we don’t bite. We just sting a little. Ha, ha.” People entering the waiting room for entirely unrelated ailments wafted to the flu table on pure whim. I was especially interested in the mother dragging her two sons in, ages 8 and 11 (I evesdropped…er…overheard). The mother made some inquiry to the counter, and the employee’s response was that the flu shots here are for adults only. The overweight mother looked annoyed and said, pointing to her knee brace, “I just dragged them all the way from pediatrics Building C down here, and I AM NOT going to climb stairs again!” The nurse at the flu station stood and asked the kids’ ages, then said, “Yeah, that’s okay, we’ll do ’em.” The younger boy immediately started to panic. “I AM NOT going to have a shot! I DON’T WANT a shot!” He gripped the counter and started to cower underneath it. The mother dragged him out and I didn’t hear what she said over the older boy’s declaration of, “You LIED to us!” The boys were eventually forced over to the flu table and the mother gripped the younger one, turned his head to herself, as the wailing started. “Look at your mom, it’ll be over with real quick,” the nurse with the big needle said to the boy. Almost before the wailing reached its full fever-pitch, the nurse was done with the shot. The boy was left looking rather sheepish as another boy about his age, in line with his own mom behind this boy, said, “I’m ready for my shot. I ain’t no chicken.”

There were several moments when the flu shot table was entirely open with no one in line. I have never taken a flu shot and I rarely get the flu. I’ve always reasoned it was unnecessary for me to pay the $25 to the mobile nurse that comes to the courthouse every year to administer flu shots, because I’d likely be sick from my immune response to the shot whereas if I chanced it, I wouldn’t even catch the flu. My parents had gotten flu shots before and both of them were sick as dogs. (I personally have never seen a dog sick, but if the saying has any logical backing, dogs apparently get very, very sick.) I figure my genetics are similar to theirs so my body would react the same way. Another genetic thing passed down from them to me tho — the Asian thrift gene. Despite my severe dislike of needles and all practical aversion to getting flu shots, I found myself seriously contemplating going to the table because, well, the flu shots were free. Even if I don’t need it nor want it, here is a hospital facility offering something that is normally in high demand — for free. And there’s no line.

What eventually saved me from taking up that painful and unnecessary offer was seeing an Asian woman and her son, who had received their flu shots about 10 minutes prior, come back into the room and walk up to the flu table. She asked the nurse some question. The nurse responded, “This is just the regular standard flu shot that they give us every year.” The woman said something else. The nurse replied, “No, it doesn’t protect you against anything specialized…no, it’s not the bird flu vaccine…well, the bird flu isn’t even in the United States yet…if it gets here, we’ll have to do something about it then, but right now you don’t gotta worry about it cuz it’s not here…” The woman eventually left with her son. I knew that the Asian newspapers and TV news and their overblown propaganda had gotten to her and she was uninformed as a lot of these Asian housewife types are. The Asian thrift gene suddenly lost its pull on me.

My parents left this morning for a 9-day vacation in China. A DA friend observed yesterday how it was interesting my parents should choose this time to visit China, given the bird flu and all. I think my parents have less to be concerned about with the bird flu than they do with their optimistic plans to CLIMB YELLOW MOUNTAIN. They bought hiking backpacks and gear and Motrin for the endeavor. Let me tell you, my parents are not active people. They don’t do the gym thing, they don’t do the running thing. They used to spend some time taking a walk around the neighborhood after dinner (during which trips I’d get an occasional phone call with my mom panting into the phone while trying to tell me something she just remembered I needed to know, such as she got a coupon in the mail for batteries that she was keeping for me for the weekend when I visited them), but I don’t think they’ve done that as of late.

When I visited them yesterday, my parents finalized their wills, showed me where all the important legal documents are kept, and packed up all their uneaten perishables for me to take home. To use up her tomatoes, celery, onions, etc., my mom made a vat of ox tail soup. That’s one of my favorite things that she cooks. I haven’t had ox tail soup for a long time, and it is so perfect for the cold weather. The stainless steel vat, which I imagined was a cauldron, was also very apropos for Halloween. I had two bowls of the soup before I knocked out on their recliner. I awoke at 1:30 a.m., picked up my gargantuan container of remaining ox tail soup and grocery bag of various exotic fruits that my mom was dumping on me, and drove home.

I will be looking forward to the soup the whole time I’m sitting at Kaiser, I’m sure.

My blog benefactor just gave me access to some color-coded bar graphs of my blog statistics. He observed that whereas most of the traffic on his own blog peaks around noon and after-work hours, my readers tend to visit my blog first thing in the morning, 8-10am. On a summary by month, June and July were nearly equal in hits, very modest, averaging a little more than 400 hits/day. August doubled at 827 hits daily, September peaked out at 1125 hits daily, and October (I know we’re not at the end of the month yet, but almost), it slowed to 853 hits a day so far. Total hits by month are as follows (and this is more accurate than the hit counter cuz the hit counter only starts counting when it was installed, on 9-8-05):
June – 12,585
July – 12,822
August – 25,648
September – 33,768
October – 23,889

I am fascinated. I wonder what was going on in September that made my blog so interesting. And what happened in October that made people lose interest. I didn’t even have as many entries in September as I normally did, because I was in Cancun for the entire last week and couldn’t log on.

So if any of you care to give me some insight, let me know what you like to do when you’re reading my blog. Are you getting to your first cup of coffee while surfing the net? Are you just settling into work and warming up your desktop so you decide to see what’s going on with me? Do you figure I post throughout the day so it’s just easier to check first thing in the morning to see what I did all the day before? Are you checking less in October because the photos slow down the loading? Am I somehow whinier and more annoying in October than I was in September? (Boy, maybe I’m inviting feedback comments I don’t want to hear. Haha.)

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