January 2009

Mr. W’s daughter came by my work today to visit since she had the day off from school. She also brought her guitar for entertainment. A lot of people at my work know her since she sung at our wedding, but that was before she picked up her first guitar, three and a half months ago. She taught herself to play the instrument with some light instruction by a friend her first few weeks. With a musical instrument to accompany her voice, she has now written eight or ten songs that all sound different, catchy, and amazing. I put her on the witness stand (where there’s a microphone) and had her do a few songs for my staff. The first I requested is probably my favorite that she’s written so far. I don’t think she’s titled it, but she basically used a short tumultuous fling she had recently as inspiration and wrote songs around a drop of emotion or event. The result is something so beautiful, and real. The reason I like this song in particular is because of the buildup of the message. Here’s the song’s turning point, which happens about 1/3 of the way through. She starts off singing about the devastation the guy left her in, and then the lyrics say something like, “This may sound like a sad song to you, but I’m happy as can be, because you won’t believe what I found when you left. I found…me. I found me.” It brings me to tears even thinking about it because it taps into something raw in my history, what I had to go through to stand up and be myself again, and the way she wrote the melody around it, the word “found” is dragged out slightly, as if to build suspense, and then the “me” is sung very emotionally, starting low, almost on a minor key and builds into a strong major key note, and her voice also gains strength, and you can almost see a flower blooming in a shaft of sunlight in the snow. *sniffle*

I wanted to take a cameraphone picture of her up there but my phone died earlier this morning. I wish I could share her songs and lyrics with all of you, but I want her to be discovered first. 🙂 And she’s definitely working on that.

Court reporter: Aww, animals are so precious. They’re like little gifts.
Me: Little fuzzy gifts.
Court reporter: Little fuzzy gifts that throw up.


I’d always thought, in the back of my mind, that married people are a different species from unmarried people. Married people are grownups with serious and adult responsibilities. They have outgrown childish desires like opposite-sex friends, partying, getting drunk, staying out all night, cussing, extravagant vacations, spontaneous plans. They are good examples for society.

I know this isn’t necessarily a given, but that’s the kind of grownup I grew up looking at, and the kind of grownup I thought I’d be. But now that I’ve been married almost 5 months, I don’t feel any more grown up. I still have the same quirky humor, “off” comments, and co-ed friendships I’ve always enjoyed. I still bounce around the house on my toes, “accidentally” bouncing into my now-husband and he bounces back with me. We were having lunch with his recently legal adult daughter and her friend over the weekend at a panini restaurant when we (Mr. W and I) got into a shoving war in the booth and I had to brace my hands against the wall and use my back to push back against Mr. W as his daughter and her friend laughed and called us children. And today, I’m meeting up with Anny for dinner and hanging out and Mr. W is meeting his old neighbor for dinner and a movie. Life as a married person isn’t much different from life as an unmarried person, and I’m pleasantly surprised. For Chinese New Year, my parents and grandma gave us both red envelopes like we were kids. “You’re not really a grownup until someone looks to you as a grownup,” Mr. W said. That makes sense; we have to be grown-up relative to something else.

Something else would probably have to be offspring. We had the “baby” talk some days ago quite inadvertently. We were driving somewhere, talking about babies, and I said as long as I have one before turning 35, I’m okay. Cuz the amniotic (sp?) fluid testing for Down Syndrome they do on age 35+ expectant mothers just gives me the heebie jeebies. And then I realized I would be turning 33 this year. Which means I need to have the baby next year. Which means I need to be pregnant soon. And I started having a panic attack. Good thing I was in the passenger seat, because I lost sensation in my legs.

Mr. W is oddly better adjusted to the idea of having this kid than I am, considering he was the one who’d previously made the decision to never have another baby. But then, he’s done it before. Twice. This is about to change my life as I know it forever. My mind ran though all the random things I’d wanted to remember in case I was ever to become a mother. Don’t give toddlers cheese, they can’t digest it. Don’t give them peanuts early, it may develop into peanut allergies. I want to document the whole process on the blog. What if the kid googles me when he/she is older and finds this blog?! Seeing a baby hand or foot sticking up through my stomach skin is creepy! I hope I can re-use my adolescent stretch marks so I don’t develop pregnancy ones. Cocoa butter, my friend swore by it. Don’t be oversensitive to what the kid says, he/she will think you’re a moron and hate you at some point. Don’t be overbearing or they’ll rebel. I’m never going to sleep well at night again worrying about where my kid is.

And this doesn’t even begin to address the most immediate hurdle: conceiving.

My mom wanted to do a traditional Chinese New Year Eve this year because, as she put it, she may not live long enough to pass on the tradition otherwise.   (She’s so fatalistic.)  She even made sure to leave me a voice mail with instructions on what to do before going over there.  Shower before blessings to cleanse off the old year and start anew.  Wear red undergarments for luck.  Wear red clothing for luck.  The only red undergarments I have presently are not parent-appropriate, but I wore them anyway and sent a cameraphone picture to Jordan, who wanted to know if I was going to follow all my mom’s orders.  Jordan threatened to post the picture of me in my red undies.  =P

We went over to my parents’ house at 3p yesterday and I was surprised she actually decked the inside of her already-Asian house out for the occasion.

From the simple stuff, like flowers…

(A saying in Chinese calls daffodils mistaken for common garlic bulbs before sprouting, but revealing their secret splendor in bloom. These flowers are therefore symbolic for, to use an American colloquilism, a diamond in the rough.) 

(classic Chinese ‘mums)

…to red paper poetry and symbols on the doorways and walls…

 …to an actual ancestral altar.

food offerings to our ancestors from both my moms and my dads side
(food offerings to the ancestors on both my mom’s and dad’s sides)

It smelled like a Buddhist temple in my parents’ house when the incense sticks were lit.  We each (Mr. W included) held an incense stick and bowed three times, thanking the passed-on relatives for the blessings of the past year.  My dad went as far as to burn “Hell Notes,” paper money as offerings to our loved ones on the Other Side.
Dad at least had the good sense to do this outside.

Dad at least had the good sense to do this outside.

It was interesting for Mr. W to learn the meanings of all the symbolism, such as why the word “Spring” and “luck” are put on the walls upside-down.   You’ll see them on the fish tank in the photo above, and on the cabinets.  (The Chinese word for “inverted” is dau, which is pronounced the same as the word for “arrived,” so to put Spring dau and to put luck dau is to announce that Spring has arrived, and good fortune has arrived.)
And then there was feasting.  My mom’s dishes were all traditional and symbolic, too.  Dumplings that represented gold ingots to bring in wealth, uncut mustard vegetable in soup for longevity, ten kinds of vegetables cut into one dish/casserole to symbolize perfection, all blessings for the new Year of the Ox.
I think there were at least 10 dishes, plus desserts and appetizers.

I think there were at least 10 dishes, plus desserts and appetizers.

After dinner, we played a traditional gambling game involving four dice thrown into a big bowl.  Traditionally, children were allowed to gamble on New Year’s Eve because it helps keep them awake all night.  Why should they be awake?  Superstition has it that the longer a child stays awake, the longer life the child’s parents will enjoy.  My aunt came over with her buddy and the six of us played for hours.  It was fun to see my parents and aunt laughing their butts off, mostly at themselves because they can’t remember whose turn it is, and what number the dealer had thrown that everyone else had to beat.  They were just being silly, but it was weird playing with them and their short memory spans.  This morning this aunt’s daughter texted me “Happy new year! I heard that you all gambled last night!”

I texted back, “It was a scary experience last night to see how short their memory spans are. It was like playing dice with goldfish.”

But they were all eating, drinking, and being merry, which is what this is all about.

I was convinced to join one of those ubiquitous social networking sites this weekend. I find the damn thing to be one of the most user-unfriendly interfaces ever, as warned by Dwaine. A few minutes ago, I don’t know what the hell I pushed, but apparently it sent out “friend” invitations to everyone in my email address book! That means people who are ALREADY my friend on this site, people who may not know me but who had included me on a forward list, people I’ve responded to in a group response to some email forward, EVERYONE. What.the.fock. I do not want that many people knowing my business!

If you get one of those invitations, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it!

Mr. W and I went to The Melting Pot for a fondue dinner on Sunday night.  As soon as we sat in our booth, we were able to very clearly hear the conversation at another booth diagonally across the aisle from us.  I soon realized this is because an 80+ year old man was having dinner with an early 20s woman, and the man was hard of hearing.  He’d ask her to repeat everything she said, and she spoke loudly and clearly to begin with.  I thought it was very sweet; she never lost patience with him, helped him with his fondue, introduced the various sauces to him, told him about some class she’s taking where she was hoping she could make up some hours for.  It looked like a busy college student took out some time to hang out with her grandfather for dinner.

After appetizers, the girl observed, “You look down today, Bob.  Are you still mad about lunch?  What did you have that was so bad, anyway?”  He replied that lunch was bad, but that wasn’t why he was upset.  He admitted that he was, indeed, upset, but it was because of HER.  She sounded surprised when she said, “Me?  What did I do?”

“You made it clear today that –”  I didn’t hear the rest, either because someone said something (possibly Mr. W, possibly the waitress) or because his voice faded off as he turned his head.  I did hear her response.

“That’s not fair, Bob.  Now I’M upset.”  She sounded indignant.

“Why are YOU upset?” he asked, almost incredulously chuckling.

“Well, because!  You make me think that that’s all a man wants.”  There was some talk that sounded like he wanted to drop it, regretting bringing it up, but she insisted she wanted to talk about it.  She finally agreed to let it go, but then made another comment about it.

“I don’t understand you, and you don’t understand me,” he said calmly but loudly, just because he has no idea how loud he is.  She did, though, as she said something discreetly to him that I couldn’t hear.  He couldn’t hear, either.  “What?  I can’t hear you.  You’re gonna have to speak up.”

She paused, then said more audibly, “Never mind, let’s talk about this later.  Let’s talk about it when we’re back in the car, so you can actually hear me better.”  He agreed, and she went back to helping him cut meat, spear raw food on the fondue picks, and putting them in the pot for him.  She asked him if he’d like some seasoning on his food.

He said suddenly, putting both palms down firmly on the table in front of him, “All I know is, you are the absolute most beautiful thing I had ever –” and his voice faded off again out of my hearing.

She handled it by chuckling and saying, “Now we know who’s blind.”


“I said, ‘NOW WE KNOW WHO’S BLIND.‘  Haha.”

The rest of the dinner was pretty peaceful between them, talking mostly of the delicious sauces, food, and her nursing assignment at the hospital for class.  When they were ready to leave, she paid the check (he griped about how much tip she gave and she had to explain that this is 2009, servers make next to nothing and depend on tips to survive, and she ALWAYS tips 20%), handed him his cane, came around his side of the booth, helped him up, let him lean heavily on her shoulder as she helped him walk slowly out of the restaurant.

There’s something oddly impressive about my husband to me.  He can’t remember our first weekend together in the detail I’d like, in his youth he was more interested in ditching class to find chicks, booze and other illegal stuff than in paving the way toward college, but at times like just now, he makes me look at him in scholastic awe.

He laid sunning in his hammock in the back yard, immersed in the shadow of a book he held over his head.  I curled up atop two deeply cushioned patio chairs, shriveling away from the sun toasting my bare leg skin golden brown, reading a book recommended to me by a bloggy friend.  Downing a huge glass of my favorite white wine, Caymus Vineyards’ Conundrum, I attempted to keep my mind in the first chapter of The Rule of Four.  Written by a Princeton University graduate in collaboration with a Harvard University graduate, this book had a few more SAT words in it than my previous reads, the four volumes of Stephenie Meyers’ Twilight.

“What’s a mason?” I asked abruptly.

My husband touched his finger to his place in his book and looked up.  “Mason?  As in the secret society, or as in people who builds brick walls?”

“Oh,” I said, and read on.  And then later, “What’s an albatross?”

“An albatross is a large sea bird,” he said and went on to describe the long beak, its hunting patterns in the sea. 

I watched him patiently.  When he was done, I asked, “Is there a second definition?”

“Yeah,” he said without a beat.  “In Greek mythology an albatross is a large thing hung around a person’s neck, something heavy, that keeps him from being able to move easily, like a punishment…”  He gestured around his neck.

“Like a ball and chain?” I asked.

“Sort of.  Like a burden.  What’s the context?”

I read, ” ‘I have a peculiar middle name, which for parts of my childhood I carred like an albatross around my neck.’ ”

I love walking Wikipedias.

He said: It would never happen again.  It was doomed to die anyway.

She said: If she’d known then what she knows now, she would’ve never let it happen to begin with.

His friends said: Nothing’s happening!  Nothing’s happening!

He said: Everything’s wrong with her.

My friend said: You think it will recur if you look away, but it won’t; he doesn’t want it anymore.

They were all wrong.

And I am still more beautiful than that.

Having “discovered” John Mayer’s blog the other day through Mel’s blog, I read him and was intrigued, impressed, and tickled enough by who he is to want to give his songs a better listen.  Surprisingly, I found a new favorite song, “Back to You” (click for YouTube video).  It also sounds like something Mr. W would like, so I excitedly ran outside to the back yard to share the news with him, and to convince him to come in for a listen.

All I found outside was this:

Want a better look?

Oh my God, there’s a naked husband running around somewhere!!!

I’d expected my weight to go up a bit when I started hitting the weights again, but holy crapola, it went up almost 5 pounds this year!  And I’ve been hitting the gym consistently, too.  I am now terrified I’m gonna get into the next “tens” on the scale.  That is simply NOT acceptable. 

I assume what happened is that as I stopped working out, the weight didn’t go up significantly because more horrifically, my body was losing its heavier muscle and gaining lighter fat pounds.  My inches increased without the scale budging much.  Now that I’m putting the muscle back on, they’ll  need more time to start burning off the new fat, so I’ll be heavier with the increased fat and increased muscle until the proportions tip over the other way, and then my fat percentage will drop more quickly.

I haven’t been eating poorly, so all I can think to do is increase my cardio.

I’m also clinging desperately to the hope that I’m just bloated right now due to “that time.”  My boobs certainly feel tender, rounder and heavier.  (Sorry for the TMI, but that’s my hormone litmus test: grabbing my boobs.)  I hope the pounds will fall off the scale in another week or so.


But I would be SO HOT in Mississippi.  Where does your state rank in the Fattest States of 2008?

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