December 2005

The hot pot was a success. I still put a raw egg in my bowl and now I’m thinking maybe I shouldn’t have. I’ve had stomach cramps off and on since dinner. Mr. W scored major brownie points by bringing a bottle of strawberry champagne (my mom doesn’t like the taste of regular champagne) to ring in the new year, plus a magnetized algae scraper for my dad’s fish tank. Right now he’s showing off his techie side by giving my parents a tutoring session on the software he just installed on my mom’s new laptop. I’ve snuck away upstairs to play on my dad’s desktop. It was so funny. After I installed GoogleTalk on my mom’s laptop, my dad came upstairs to sign in to his account so that they could plug in their respective microphones and IM each other voice. “Now we can chat with each other!” my dad said happily to my mom. I could just picture it now. It’d be like 2:30 a.m. and my dad would be dozing downstairs in front of the TV in the family room, when suddenly, the drone of some infomercial is drowned out by my mom’s voice blaring from the laptop on the coffee table. “Too noisy! Come to bed!” she’d hiss in that sleepy irrate voice that all moms have when they awake from slumber to yell at you.

Turns out that the printer/copier/scanner doesn’t include a printer cable, so we’ll have to come back some other time to set up the printer and to link it to a network so that all the computers in the house may print. Good thing those old people downstairs get along. 😀

Oops, gotta go…my mom realized I was missing and is now calling me downstairs to look at their photos from their Sedona trip on her new laptop.

Public service announcement: The next time you guys run 4.5 miles and think, “Gosh, a cold Wendy’s Frosty would be a great treat right now,” don’t do it. The ensuing nausea, cramps and freakish bodily sensations as your stomach struggles to warm up the Frosty in your stomach and pulls the blood from where it’s really needed is NOT worth the delicious taste and feel in your mouth. I’m glad I’m going home after work. I just wanna lie somewhere face-down. Preferably somewhere soft.

Well, the New Year’s plans have been laid. No suicidal sucker-consumer plans this year. No siree. (If you think this post sounds lame, blame the Frosty for sucking the blood out of my brain.) It’s to mom and dad’s house we go, for Chinese hot-pot (“shabu shabu” in Japanese) dinner, early enough that Mr. W can play Techie Superman and set up my mom’s laptop and my parents’ new printer on a wireless network. My mom’s looking forward to introducing Mr. W to this Chinese winter traditional meal in which a large pot placed at the center of the table keeps broth boiling and each person gets his/her own wire ladel to hook onto the edge of the pot, and raw veggies and thinly sliced meats and meatballs are dropped into the broth, the more delicate items isolated within our wire ladel/baskets, to cook in the broth until we take the items out to enjoy in a sauce formulated to individual taste in our separate bowls. The food keeps going in and coming out, and soon the broth is nicely flavored with the combination of tofu, mushrooms, beef, pork, chicken, seafood, etc., and we enjoy the remaining broth as soup. It can go on all night. I personally don’t care for this, as the food comes out tasting the same. But it’s a good way to keep people centralized for optimal conversational purposes. Kinda like a fondue. Oh, and I’m sure my parents want to show off the photos they took Christmas weekend from their trip to Sedona. Mr. W said it’s beautiful there, with lots of rocks to climb. My mom had already emailed me about their attempts at climbing.

There’s supposed to be 2 storms coming this holiday weekend. One is to hit tonight through tomorrow, and the second one, the big one, is expected to drop 2 inches of rain between Sunday and Monday. I guess there won’t be a lot of spectators spending the night on the street in Pasadena this year for a good spot to watch the annual Rose Parade march by. A headline in a local newspaper read, “Hoping That The Floats Don’t Have To.” I’m excited about the rain. My skylight makes the rain plops sound like the tapping percussion of nature’s orchestra. I’m thinking about lighting my fireplace tonight. Just me and my cat. I used to be afraid that Dodo would walk into the fireplace in a temporary light-show induced hypnotic state, but I’ve come to find that cats are not moths, and curiosity has yet to kill this cat in a big fireball of fur. Maybe I should do laundry and vacuum, too. It’s amazing how little time I spend at home messing it up, and yet when I am home I spend more time cleaning than doing anything else.

Mr. W and I are trying to set up game nite this weekend with some friends. I hope it works out.

We watched The Chronicles of Narnia after work yesterday. If you don’t like kids, annoying kids, stupid kids, doomsayer kids, screaming kids, kids in the audience or British kids, I’d say to avoid this movie. I did like the storyline, I enjoyed the parallel with Christ (Mr. W told me the book series were written by a very Christian author), I admired the scenery, but most of all, I liked the big furry lion. I’m sure the rightful King of Narnia, Azlan (sp?), all-powerful and revered fighter/leader/advisor, would not appreciate my describing him as a “big furry lion,” but that’s what he was! Now how do you look at that giant-pawed feline without wanting to bury your face in that thick mane, or wanting to squeeze a rounded fuzzy ear? I bet his ear is warm. =) Falling second in appeal to Azlan is the remarkable face of the oldest human brother, remarkable because of how closely, in my opinion at least, this British boy resembles a young Val Kilmer in the ice blue eyes, the facial features especially the lips, the jawline, and even some regal expressions. I found myself wondering what this boy would look like 10 years from now. As for the rest of the human cast, the youngest child, the little girl, screams and shrieks too much; the younger brother is perplexing in his weakness and idiocy; the older sister needs her gray-clouds-follow-me attitude silenced by perhaps a stapling of her lips. The ice queen was decent. So was Santa Claus. Don’t believe me? Watch the movie.

How’s that for a shallow review?

Really. See it for the lion. Trust me.

If someone breaks up with their significant other because the signifiant other doesn’t want to get married, which one loves the other more than marriage? I started to comfort someone by saying that if you were left on Christmas because you didn’t propose, then maybe the person who left wants marriage more than they want you. But then, if the person who didn’t propose would rather let the other leave than get married, then isn’t this person’s priority heavier on marriage (as in, wanting NOT to get married) than on the significant other? I guess it comes down to:

Person A – Do I love you enough that I’d be with you even if it means we aren’t a governmentally-recognized official couple, in order to simply be with you?
Person B – Do I love you enough to become a governmentally-recognized official couple even though I don’t want to be, in order to be with you?

And then there’s stuff like this, which I absolutely believe:

Every man you have ever dated who has said he doesn’t want to get married or doesn’t believe in marriage, or has “issues” with marriage, will, rest assured, someday be married. It just will never be with you. Because he’s not really saying he doesn’t want to get married. He’s saying he doesn’t want to get married to you.

And yet, there’s this:

The question at hand is only this: Is he making lame transparent excuses about marriage to cover for the fact that he really doesn’t ever see a future with you? That’s the hard question. And women are smart. If they really got quiet and stopped listening to the excuses, or believing what they wanted to be true and what they hope he’s really saying, and just got all centered about it, I think women would always know. They’ll always know the difference between a man who truly has issues with marriage but is deeply committed to the relationship and them, and a guy who’s just being a weenie. …Before you enter into the sociopolitical-anthropological debate about marriage as an antiquated financial contract, blah, blah, blah, ask yourself some very serious questions. Questions that only you can answer in your most sane, clear-headed of moments: Do you feel truly loved? Do you feel he is deeply committed to you? Do you feel he has any doubts about wanting to build a life with you? If the answer to these questions are yes, yes, no, then let the debating begin, because he might have a point. But if you feel that he’s always holding something back, or that you’re spending a lot of energy trying to change yourself into something you think will make him happier, then divorce yourself from him and move on. Don’t let him make you feel stupid about wanting to feel loved.

I think the toughest thing about being the person whose boyfriend or girlfriend claims to be shell-shocked about marriages gone bad is, you know he/she was willing to try it with other people. Heck, maybe he/she DID try it with other people. Maybe he/she has already told you that in a previous or recent relationship, he/she had it in their head that they were going to get married, but then now, with you, they’re suddenly backing away from the marriage concept. They tell you, “It’s not YOU, I just don’t like MARRIAGE as an institution for what it’s become.” But you can’t help thinking, But you were willing to do it with someone else — just not me. So what’s wrong with me?

All the above block quotes are from the hugely successful bestseller He’s Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo. They’re from Chapter 7: “He’s Just Not That Into You If He Doesn’t Want to Marry You.” And I’d like to end on another quote from that chapter.

I have a lady friend whose boyfriend had just moved cross country to live with her, and we were all out having drinks. We got on the subject of marriage, and he went on a huge diatribe of how he didn’t believe in marriage. He grew up in an environment where there was crazy pressure to get married, and all he saw were unhappy, unhealthy marriages. My friend was surprised by this strong reaction, and fairly upset about it. She wasn’t an intensely marriage-minded gal, but she always thought it was going to be an option. She gave it a good deal of thought and realized that what she really wanted was just to be with this man, who had just moved his entire life to be with her. So she got used to the idea that she would never be married. A year later he proposed, because he realized he was in love with her and knew it was something that was important to her.

Last week, I bought a bottle of Kendall-Jackson chardonnay as part of my xmas present to my bailiff — it’s his and his girlfriend’s favorite wine — and bought myself a bottle of cheapie booze, a Beringer’s white zinfandel. I admit that I like this particular wine, ordinary as it is, because it’s light and fruity and is great on its own, not having to reach to accompany cheeses, pastas or meats. When Mr. W and I returned to his place, we put the Beringer’s in his freezer, and promptly forgot about it while we drank a bottle of red that he’d purchased.

The next morning, he broke the news to me like this: “I have bad news for you. About something dear and very near to your heart. Guess what I found in the freezer.” I guessed the wine exploded. He said, “The cork is nowhere to be found. It must’ve blown through my freezer into some alternate dimension, and there’s pink wine blood all over the freezer, frozen.” WWAAAAAAHHHH!!!

What a mess. What a waste of wine.

But you guys know me. I drank it anyway.

* In playing Scattergories on Saturday nite after xmas dinner at Mr. W’s parents’ house, we played teams, 3 females against our 3 male counterparts. The electronic console selected the category the men are supposed to think of a word in: “Human Body Part.” The timer begins, the pressure is on, and the console randomly selects the letter that the first word must start with: “C.” There was a silence, and we looked around uncomfortably. The men: Mr. W, his brother, the brother’s daughter’s boyfriend. The women: me, the brother’s wife, their daughter. To our right: Mr. W’s and his brother’s father acting as spectator. Of course no one could think of anything else but the obvious slang female body part beginning with “C”. We just laughed. Mr. W finally struggled out, “Cornea!” “Ooh, good one,” everyone congratulated him for dodging that bullet. Same category, now beginning with the letter “A”. They got one pretty easily. Same category, the final letter. “P,” the ruthless electronic console demanded. Everyone gave up and laughed, and the two brothers turned to the boyfriend and delegated him with an, “Oh, just SAY IT!” “PENIS!” the boyfriend yelled, a bit too gleefully. I guess no one thought of “pupil.” I was afraid to look in Mr. W’s dad’s direction, but I was told he was laughing.

* In a trivia game, the question asked what comic strip cat a particular artist created. Mr. W’s sister-in-law, who was trying to answer the question, wasn’t sure which one to say. I said, “There’s only two, you’ve got a 50/50 chance. And they both look alike.” I knew she was stuck between Heathcliff and Garfield. She guessed Garfield and the answer was Heathcliff. The daughter’s boyfriend said, “Who’s Heathcliff?” His girlfriend said pompously, “Oh my God, you don’t know Heathcliff?! He’s this cat that goes around and has adventures with his cat friends…and he has this magical bag that he pulls random stuff out of…” Her boyfriend stared at her, and said, “That’s Felix.” “OH!” she said, and dissolved in a fit of hysterical laughter in which she had to avert her face and try to breathe, and she started heaving and crying. “Oh, great, there she goes,” her boyfriend said, who apparently has seen her like this before. He turned to me and said, “She’s useless to me now. You wanna be my partner?” She heaved and gasped and laughed and cried for probably almost 5 complete minutes before she recovered enough to the point where we could continue the game. I was relieved her eyeballs didn’t explode.

* Mr. W and I had parked outside his brother’s house on Sunday, getting ready to resume Game Night, Day 2. He first brought in the games we’d just purchased at the Aladdin, and was walking back out toward the car as I was walking from the car to the house. As we walked toward each other in the street, I had the sudden thought that I would, once I got close enough, explode into a run and pounce on him and scare him. I tried to remain patient, looking straight ahead, walking normally…or so I thought. He read something in my eyes or maybe in my body language, and what ended up happening was that we both burst into a run toward each other at the same time, which caused me to run into him a lot faster than I had estimated, and because he leapt, too, he cut my jump short, and I jammed my finger against his chest.
It took us about a minute to stop laughing and to stand up straight again.

* Mr. W and I were walking back to his place from having just watched Jennifer Aniston’s Rumor Has It at a local theatre last nite. I was in a goofy mood. The conversational topic led me to say jovially, “But guys DO appreciate me. They just do it after the relationship ends.” He played along and said something supportive. I continued, “Yeah, they don’t realize until after I’m gone that I’m better than other girls! I can run faster… AND I have a higher sex drive!” Mr. W said something jokingly that displayed his dubiousness, so I responded to his challenge with, “I’ll prove it RIGHT NOW!” and … you have to picture this happening precisely simultaneously… I crouched into starting position and tried to take off in a sprint but got yanked back after one step since we were holding hands and Mr. W was headed toward a shrub next to him, saying, “Right here? In this bush?”
Since we weren’t looking at each other when we each did our thing, he didn’t know why I was laughing and I couldn’t keep enough air in my lungs to explain that I was trying to prove the running part, not the sex drive part, when I was violently jerked back toward him. I was doubled over and laughing so hard that I almost spat out my spleen.

I had so much fun this weekend.

Due to the hysterics involved in playing board games on Saturday night, I had no resistence when Mr. W and I wandered by a games store inside the Aladdin hotel’s shops and saw that every game in the store was 25% off, and some were 50% off. Board games are freaking expensive these days, since they involve electronic questions and/or DVDs. I managed to haul 4 games back with us for under $100: a 90s decade Trivial Pursuit type game; an expanded special edition of Loaded Questions, one of my favorite games; a “Friends” DVD Trivial Pursuit type game; and Cranium.

Any of you local friends want to hook up for game night hysteria, let me know!

I’ve been waiting months to blog this. Months!! Now that it’s finally December 25, 2005, I’d like to take you all back, back, to Christmastime in December, 1982. My first Christmas experience, 4 months after my arrival to the United States.

I was 6 years old, in first grade in a new country, new school, with new customs and a new language that I did not understand. I was, of course, an easy target for teasing, cruelty, theft, basically being taken advantage of. I don’t care what you child-lovers say, kids are damn mean. In this first grade class, we were about to do my first gift exchange. Each child had brought in a wrapped gift as according to instructions given to the parents. All the gifts were randomly tagged with a number, and a corresponding number was put in a hat. We were sitting Indian-style on the floor in front of the classroom, and each child by turn walked up to the hat, drew a number by lot, and the teacher handed that kid the present marked with that same number. I had drawn a 6, and a rather large box was handed to me. I sat down with my wrapped present. The distribution continued until one girl, who drew a 9, was given a small gift, one that fit in the palm of her little hand. She had a fit and insisted that I was given her gift, and that the 6 and/or 9 was reversed in error. Because I was not one to protest, the teacher appeased the other girl and apologetically took my large box and gave it to her, while handing me the smaller box in exchange. I remember being confused, too confused to feel violated. We were then given permission as a class to open our presents. My little gift turned out to be an adorable little plastic Christmas-tree shaped box in which the lid of the box can be removed to become a Christmas tree pin; a pair of tiny Christmas tree earrings were pierced through the lid/pin to be worn as earrings or decoration for the tree pin; inside the box was a matching Christmas tree necklace. The girl who had my original present tore open the wrapping to uncover…a box of AlphaBits cereal.

Thus went my first experience with the meaning of Christmas, the American me-generation spirit, the squeaky-wheel-gets-the-grease concept, the be-careful-what-you-wish-for cliche, and karma. I’m sure I don’t need to elaborate on the moral of this story.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays, everyone!

Since the blog server’s been down the past few days, I’m gonna do a shortened version of my xmas this year.

Mr. W and I celebrated our personal xmas Thursday evening. I am impressed by how well he had listened to me and remembered small details about my likes and dislikes, as was evidenced in his very thoughtful gifts. I am spoiled sick this year. Sick! Thursday was a wonderful evening, I could not have choreographed a better time. It was low-key and very customized to my taste, with some introductions to new things. I had no idea that hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps is so delicious, it’s like drinking an Andes chocolate mint wafer! I got to mush marshmallows in between my fingers just like I did as a child, and instead of being grossed out, Mr. W handed me the small marshmallows as I went. There were toes warmed by a lit fireplace, Christmas music, candied apples, popcorn, soy eggnog (heavily spiked), and all the “Friends” one could have. Really. All 10 seasons in a wood-cased, boxed set.

Friday after work, I had xmas dinner with my parents and presented my father with his bisected fossil and my mother with her laptop and my parents with their printer/scanner/copier. My parents had gotten me a black leather jacket and a Trader Joe’s giftcard. *Laugh*

Late Friday night, technically 3am Saturday morning, Mr. W and I left for Las Vegas to spend xmas with his parents and extended family. We arrived at approximately 6:45 a.m.. Maybe when I have more time I will blog about the drive. For now, I hope to find more information about what happened on the news. I hope the California Highway Patrol caught the phukker.

Saturday for lunch, Mr. W, his parents and I went to a Chicago pizza joint in Vegas that he’d been raving about for as long as we’d been dating. Apparently this restaurant gets shipments every Monday of authentic Chicago pizza ingredients from their original Chicago restaurant. It was delicious pizza. After lunch, we got back and napped until his relatives started arriving for xmas dinner. I met his two brothers, their families, and his nieces and everybody’s significant others. They’re very warm, nice people, with a passion for debating and great senses of humor. Even off-beat humor, somewhat like mine. But I kept mine under wraps and behaved for the most part. After dinner, we split into teams and played a bunch of Milton Bradley Get-Together games. I was just telling him the other day how I missed board games with old friends who used to play with me. We played Scattergories, DVD Pop Culture Trivial Pursuit, and some other games whose names escape me at the moment. At various times, the laughter became near hyperventillation. And that wasn’t just me. It was so much fun.

I just received an email from my mom asking me to go home tomorrow so that my parents could give me my Christmas present before they left for the weekend for an out-of-state trip with their friends. My dad had emailed me some time ago asking what I want for Christmas, but I didn’t give him any gift suggestions, only saying that I’m not in need of anything. I’m actually really curious what they got me, not only because they manage to surprise me annually by how great their presents are (last year they got me my digital camera, which I had really, really wanted but didn’t have time to research, even tho I’d never expressed this desire to them), but because more and more lately, I am disappointed by how little they — well, my mom especially — know me.

When my parents returned from their touristy visit to China, my mom’s souvenir to me was 2 bracelets. Cute little casual things, pretty girly, nothing I’d wear. They’re still in their box. I guess she hasn’t realized that the only jewelry I wear on a regular basis is my wristwatch. I don’t think to put on a lot of glitz. For one, I think it looks pretentious. Two, it gets in the way of my work, typing and whatnot. I have to remove it before I work out and hope I don’t leave it in the gym locker. Three, it reveals too much about me. I prefer to control people’s impressions of me, and jewelry says a lot about a person. Take a ring, for example. Which finger a ring is worn on, what kind of ring, how gawdy it is, how many rings, how real/fake it appears, how in keeping it is with current trends. People infer information like status, priorities, level of gold-digger-ness, marital status, taste, lifestyle. Yes, lifestyle. You can generally tell whether someone’s alternative, straight, gay, prude, artsy, conservative, etc. by their jewelry.

Anyway, after my mom had handed over the bracelets, she unpacked the rest of her loot. She whipped out a great cloth fan. Open, the diameter of the semi-circle was probably a good 2 feet. White fabric stretched over mahogany-colored wood boning. On the right half of the fan was a hand-written Chinese poem in black ink, in old-fashioned brush strokes, or “mao bi“. On the left half of the fan was another poem in a different handwriting, also written with mao bi. My mother explained about the legend of a nobility class young woman in love with a lowly poet in ancient China. The woman was later arranged by her family to be married to someone in the same high class level, and she met up one last time with this poet in their secret mountain pagoda. One poem was one that she had written him, and the other poem was his response to her poem. Oh! *heart breaking* “But you wouldn’t like this stuff, so I’m giving it to my friend,” my mom said, folding up the fan.


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