Pulled In Many Directions

Not-so-daily rambings about my life and my thoughts

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Absolutely Fabulous But Broke

I have no money right now. Seriously. I'm buying a pizza with a credit card! I never do that!

Five days till pay day though, and a three day work week ahead. Not too shabby.

On the plane ride home, I bought a book I thought I wouldn't like, called Prep, set in a fictional New England boarding school called Ault. I have to admit I thought it's be a tale about Muffy and Buffy and Chad, and I didn't understand why it had been so popular and so heavily praised.

The book turned out to be instead about Martha and Lee and Cross, with Lee serving as the book's main character, and Martha being the Girl Who Has Everything But Is Cool Enough To Not Flaunt It and Cross being THE high school crush of Lee's.

I was amazed at how much I liked this book. I'm not wealthy now, I have never been wealthy, and there is a very good chance I will never be wealthy. But I sure as hell understand the malaise that lots of high schoolers go through. I understand the embarrassment that Lee felt with her background cause for me at first, attending Boston University was like being dunked in a tank of cold water. I remember constantly telling myself that I was just as good as everyone else there and I had as much right to be in the classes as everyone else. That I earned my way academically into that school, even if my dad couldn't earn my way in there financially. But I think, also like Lee, the way to getting there, the way to thinking like that, an act of self-preservation really, was something that drove a wedge between my very lower/working class father and me.

There were two scenes in the book that really got me. Granted I was beyond tired after being awake for about a day straight on the flight, by the time I got to the near end of the book. In that part, Lee's parents come to see their daughter for Parent's Day but she is horrified by the way they act, talk and dress. Looking as a detached observer, it's so obvious how Lee's Dad is so harmless. He isn't crass or crude at her school, but certainly a bit gauche. He's definitely proud of her in his own way. But (and this is why I think I was so tired) the one scene that made me so upset was when Lee started flipping out on her parents because she saw her dad had dipped a sugar cookie into his coffee. It was something he had always done and that Lee had always accepted until he did it at her boarding school.

It's weird about class. Because while I think if you come from money and so your children do, there is not much really that you can do to mortify each other. Embarrass, of course, but not so much that you have this weird strained relationship. But if you are a kid trying to have a better life than your parents, it's really damn tricky to not be seen as pretentious for just simply wanting a better life. It's wanting something more than what your own parents have that might be the hard pill to swallow for the parents, cause it's hard to want to move up without even subconsciously saying "Your life isn't good enough for me." I mean, *why* would I want to drink bottled water? Why would I want green stuff all over my pizza? How dare I know what a salad fork is?

The other part that got me sad was really stupid, in retrospect, because it happened when she realized that she would not have anything to do with Cross after high school. And I guess for me it was thinking about my own time as a high schooler, there were quite a few times I had such strong feelings for our school's "golden boys" (the ones who did well at sports and were well liked by everyone and good looking, you know the sort!) one even so much so I had entertained thoughts of going to the university he attended. They did have a good journalism program there, but yeah, I think he subconsciously factored into it too.

Anyways, it's the intensity of these emotions, even if I am not scarred by the fact that nothing ever happened to me with them, and maybe that is why I am not scarred -- nothing happened! -- the intensity of my feelings was so much that even now, there are those 2 guys (I had two!) who I still can't help but wonder about what they are doing now, and while I doubt I ever cross their mind, (and it really isn't *so* often they Cross mine) I wonder what their reaction would be if they were reminded of who I was to them way back when.

So anyways, Prep is one of those books I know I will be taking back with me when I move back to the States. There are plenty of books I have read that are worth the one time only read. But Prep should be worth a second read, even if it's only to take it all in again when I am not so tired or jet lagged. The book reads like Lee's diary, and it's hard to not get so involved with her character, her friends, and the daily goings-on at Ault. It's probably because my own high school days did not have that much pomp and circumstance to it, there is that fishbowl aspect to it. I have come away with the feeling that I could never send my kid away to such a shallow, shark infested place.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Gorgonzola, My Arch-Nemesis

It seems that the only obstacles I have had to surmount while here are those of the culinary variety. First as you know, my mind boggled over how a medium coffee could like like the large 20 ouncers back in Hong Kong. (The answer is that in Hong Kong a small coffee is 8 ounces, a medium is 12 ounces and a large is 16 ounces. Here it seems the smalls start at 12 ounces and go up so a large is 20 ounces. Yikes.) But even though I'm sure I am not giving anyone any sort of new information, I still have to just say wow with how large the meals and drinks are out here. When I do move back, I'll probably avoid all sit-down style restaurants like the plague until my stomach can get its bearings.

Apparently, they still have not. Last night I was done in by probably too much gorgonzola cheese on my salad, a cheese I normally love (hey, it's cheese!) but have not had in a very long time. I also had a very rich minestrone soup, and coupled with the fact that I probably have been dehydrated like an autumn leaf since I got to the States (a glass of wine and coffee in flight will do that to me!) and it's that special time of the month for me, I got super sick last night in the presence of my friend at home. (Thankfully not at the restaurant) And I guess we're even as she demonstrated her supreme phobia of all things 8-legged to me earlier that morning, I figured I would be sick in front of her to lvel the playing field of embarrassment! (Hey that is what friends are for!)

Anyways I am feeling much better now but that's probably because I finally got an Advil into me and have been sucking water down like a fish all day today.

I have requested admission materials from USC (University of Southern California) and CSUN (Cal State University at Northridge) just as a way to see what my options were in terms of furthering my education. I tell you what I nearly gagged when I saw the price tag for USC! There might be a better way to get into writing again, but I am not so sure. It might not look good to come back to something I had tried before, but I would definitely hasten to add that working out in California on an entertainment beat has little or nothing to do with working in Washington DC for a conservative paper, writing about business matters or obituaries. It's not the deadlines I minded, it was coming up with ideas for stories I maybe didn't care so much about. And not having a car sucked too. That will be on top of my list of things to take care of when I get back here. Gewtting a car and then driving lessons to give me peace of mind with it.

If I can impulsively go to Korea on a whim, I think I can impulsively come back here as well.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Deep Breaths and Thoughts


Ever the one who likes to see a happy ending, and as one who believes you can never plan too far in advance for that happy ending, I am currently looking at jobs and cars and houses on Craig's List just to see what sort of figures I'd be looking at when I come back here. Housing seems OK. A car (and in subconsciously keeping with the L.A. spirit of things, I inadvenrtently capitalized the c before correcting it!) seems doable, though I'm not harboring any ideas of having anything too flash. (I'm definitely not harboring any ideas of being able to live here without one!)

I'm just not sure how I'd have to work it. Maybe my friend would let me stay with her for a bit, but she'd definitely not want a second roommate and I wouldn't want an air matress for a bed for very long. So, car then place then job? Car, then job, then place?

I wish there was a website for people who have lived abroad for so long and then decided to come back home. Everything I have looked at assumes that I am a working professional whose company sent me abroad and now, still working for that company, I have decided to come back home. So they are talking about my company giving me a car for a short time and a place to stay as well. Not quite what's going to happen to me.

I'm also now not sure if I should go for that CELTA I so badly wanted not too long ago (typical!) so I could use the money saved for that to help further my quest to come back to the States. But then I'm also thinking that maybe a CELTA would save me momentarily anyways from a life of retail, at least give me a chance to make retail a second job to supplement my income and not my main source of it. I've already decided that if I want to move here than I can't be too picky at first as to what nibbles I get off any resume or application I send out. But truly, it would be nice to have something that listed their salary as by year and not by the hour. Ha.

It'd really be nice to try writing again, though this time in an entertainment or arts setting (regardless of what any potentially crazy men on the beach told me). I'd also like to see what I could do as a tutor for kids, though that is definitely a pay by the hour program and nothing more. I just wonder what the best way to go about sniffing for jobs in California would be while away in Hong Kong. If all goes well I should have a lot in the bank to live off of, to set myself up here. But we'll have to see what happens first.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

In California!

Well, being back here has proved easier than I thought it would be! The first time back and walking around the streets, I felt I was in a room with like hundreds of TVs on, all tuned to different channels. Everyone was talking, I could understand all of it. but I didn't know where to focus my attention. (Yes, I know the polite thing to do would be to not focus on anyone's conversation, but I couldn't help it.)

The only major problem I keep having is that I order medium coffees and get these huge large ones, like for 20 ounces or something. I'm going to go back to Hong Kong with even more of an addiction than I started!

I got my handwriting analyzed on Venice Beach yesterday. Ha! Apparently my style of writing is good for someone who is a teacher or a arts writer. (How convenient!) I also played a game with some of my friend's friends, where after saying how much I hated Star Trek and never saw any movies or episodes really, I had to name all seven featured Enterprise crew members. Meh! I got six and then started haggling, spewing out"The Russian guy! The one introduced cause he looked like Davy Jones!" Finally after waffling on the answer for awhile I finally got it right (Chekov.)

If I am going to live here, I am going to need to both buy a car and then get some confidence behind the wheel of it. I'm also going to have to find a decent job. Maybe it will all be worth it. The weather will generally be nice (even though right now it's cold!) and I'll be able to have some say in where I live and what sort of furniture I'd like to have. (I'm sick of baby sized single beds!)

I keep saying I think my time as an expat is up, and this time it really has nothing to do with a guy. I just want to go back to living an American style way of life and if I can do it here in California, so much the better!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Harmless Meme Time

Found through Ramble Strip:

So. The meme. It asks questions, you put your media player on "shuffle" and let it answer the questions. No cheating. Sure, a lot of it won't make sense, but some of them are funny anyway.

How does the world see you?
The Refugee by U2 (that doesn't seem very nice...)

Will I have a happy life?
Hey Bulldog by The Beatles (Maybe I'll be a dog lady instead of a cat lady then...)

What do my friends really think of me?
Stereotypes by Blur (Heh. I just want to know which one!)

Do people secretly lust after me?
I Want To Be The Boy Who Warms Your Mother's Heart by The White Stripes (Oh, that's nice. My iPod thinks a nice stable kind of guy likes me. And where is he?)

How can I make myself happy?
The Girl I Knew Somewhere by The Monkees (I can't even interpret this in any way.

What should I do with my life?
Sunday Morning by No Doubt (I should be a professional boyfriend teller-offer? No. I should go to church more? I should eat brunch and read newspapers?)

Will I ever have children?
Black Diamond by The Replacements. (A Black Diamond is the most dangerous ski slope one could go down. Maybe I will take that as a resounding no!)

What is some good advice for me?
I Want To Tell You by The Beatles. (You want to tell me what George? That's not very informative!)

How will I be remembered?
Do You Want To by Franz Ferdinand (Hey, it's a great song. I wouldn't mind having friends think of me when they listen to this. But then again, the song's primarily about art school/high society wankers. So I don't know....)

What is my signature song?
Lounge Act by Nirvana (I feel guilty in relationships? Ha!)

What do I think my current theme song is?
Shut Up By Black Eyed Peas. (Meh.)

What does everyone else think my current theme song is?
Kiss Off by Violent Femmes (Ha! I *am* trying to be nice! )

What song will play at my funeral?
Oddfellows Local 151 by R.E.M. (about a drunk man in Georgia, if I remember right...)

What type of men/women do I like?
Hurt by Johnny Cash (Now that's not fair, iPod!)

What is my day going to be like?
Untitled by Sonic Youth (Well, it will be a Monday!)

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Go Me!

I am the champion, my fwend!

Thank you, Chicken Little!

The Sports Day I was dreading turned out to be actually kind of sort of cool. I was part of the winning team in the Student/Teacher/Parent relay race. We won these little medals that well, look like keychains tied to red, white and blue ribbons. I have never really won anything in my life, especially concerning anything athletic!

I did not beat the person I wanted to (and what a lofty goal that was!) but I'm really happy that it turned out the whole was greater than the sum of its parts.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

How Crazy Is This?

I saw this on popwatch.ew.com. Apparently some Asian guy (a man named Harraj Mann) got in trouble in London for playing "London Calling" with its lyrics of "war is declared and battle come down" while riding in a taxi cab headed to the airport.

In this day and age, can't a classic song just be a classic song? What's going to happen to Elton John fans who love "Saturday Night's All Right For Fighting"?

The Best Laid Plans...

Well after all that, I forgot I have to be up for 8 a.m. Saturday for some stupid special event our school is putting on (or putting one over us, anyways!)

Hello coffee.



The weather is getting warmer and it is getting harder to sleep. Even though it might help me, I refuse to use my air conditioner now. It's not even mid April yet. (So much for spring, but this is Hong Kong!) I went for a really good (if not according to plan) hike today with some friends and by the time I got home around 6, I was really tired. I drank some Coke though and that also probably is keeping me awake.

Two more days and I'll have my weekend to sleep. I love Saturday mornings where I can just sleep in for as long as I want. (I find it harder to do on Sundays.)

Monday, April 03, 2006

A Full Weekend!

I love having lots of fun stuff to do on the weekend. It definitely beats catching up on errands (you know, laundry, grocery shopping, etc.)

So Saturday was my friend Sabrina's birthday. She partied hard. Hard hard hard. She almost knocked over a bar's table, she was having so much fun! She was an absolute terror on the dance floor! She was a good girl (I mean good birthday ho) who completed her dares and was a total spaz on the dancefloor. We were both so far gone I think in a slap-happy mood that we ended up practically screaming with laughter over how the Sims gossip (yes it's a nerdy obsession of mine. One of them, anyways!) with each other: "Psst! Hey! You know my brother? He burned the pork chops! Shh! Shh! Shh!") It's great to be around people who are looking to have fun when they go out. It's pretty infectious!

And so last weekend was definitely the time to be out, as Hong Kong was hosting its annual Rugby Sevens tournament that weekend as well. So what this means is that Sabrina, totally in a happy drunkish spaz and wearing a blinking birthday tiara which had ribbons woven into it, fit totally in with the happy and drunk rugby fans who were literally parading themselves around Lan Kwai Fong. Like my friend Mark before her, who exposed his chest in a pseudo-seductive way on the dance floor (and there are pictures -- Ouch!) my retinas are forever burned with the image of Sabrina, "doing the Brokeback" with a person of her choice on the dance floor. She chose a guy who dressed up like a penguin (as one would do with that sort of dare!) and she pantomimed going at it as he happily bent over for her. Argh!


Also along with being caught up in the total party atmosphere in Lan Kwai Fong, I have decided upon a new philosophy (for the time being, you know how I am!) to try to appreciate the good things in life. This came from hearing news about former West Virginian miner Randal McCloy's amazing recovery, and the release of hostage Jill Carroll, and OK, a viewing of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (but not all in equal proportions, OK?) Life can be good for some people and miracles can happen, and I should try to appreciate small wonders and victories that are thrown my way. I should try to pay attention to them more.

Anyways, while waiting for a friend to come out of one of the bars my friend and I started talking to some guy, wearing a really strange wig. He seemed pretty cool (if not a bit chemically enhanced? Altered? OK, let's not split hairs, pretty drunk!) and I (maybe running on equal parts alcohol and natural high for my friend's birthday) asked for his number, so maybe we could meet up later, and he gave the number to me, and on the day of the Sevens I tried calling him just to see if he knew of anyone who had tickets. He couldn't really hear me, but managed to tell me a) he would call me later and b) he was hanging out with some Japanese cheerleaders. Heh.

Anyways, the final game was really exciting, and the crowd just got rowdier and rowdier as England first rallied then tied, then finally beat the Fiji team. When I got hit in the arm by a flying plastic beer pitcher (I kid you not and I have the welt to prove it!) I told my friends I was going out of the stadium and would wait in the hall area for them. But then I turned and moved back into the stadium; the only thing was I overshot my section and wound up in the next one over. Well, what do I then see in front of me but one distinctly odd headdress. Needless to say, underneath that wig was the guy I met from the night before. (Insert a few bars of "It's a Small World After All" ~ Canto-Pop style of course here!) So he said he'd call me back when he got back into town Wednesday or Thursday. We'll see what happens.

And that Japanese cheerleader? It's yet to be confirmed, but I think I know her! (Insert some more bars of "It's a Small World After All")

Comparing what i just said about the latest newsmakers and my life is truly a case of apples and oranges, (more like elephants and fleas) but I can't help wonder if there's some coincidence involved, with the power of positive thinking and all. What happened with Randal McCloy and Jill Carroll are major miracles. What happened in my life is a small wonder. But everything there points to how life can be good.

And you know me, I've learned my lesson. This will be the last I publicly talk about any developments that may or may not happen with this guy. Friends who know me personally will probably be more than happy to attest to the fact I've told them 3 different times about the same thing and should expect the same style of updates at a later time, but I really don't want to make (any more of) a big deal of anything (than I already have) right now.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Left In The Dark

Am I the only one on the face of the earth who did not know that Nike bought out Converse back around 2003? I knew of a story that said they were no longer going to be made in America, and took that to mean they would no longer be around in American shoe stores. So I was surprised to see them over in Korea and China, but I figured that "no longer made in America" meant the shoe factories were being outsourced to cheaper places, but not to the big bad guy of outsourced work, Nike.

I have a strange naive logic about this. Nike, known for its sweatshop abuses is bad. Anything other than Nike then has to be good because no one (as far as I know) has made such a public stink over another shoe company as what happened with Nike. I make it a point to wear Reebok gym sneakers (just because I like how they look and are not Nike) and I have worn Converse All-Stars (Chucks) off and on (mostly on) since 10th grade in high school. Anything good enough for Kurt Cobain was good enough for me. Well, except for heroin and commiting suicide of course, but that really should go without saying.

It goes a bit deeper than adolescent rock-star worship of course, seeing as it's been over 10 years since my feet wore another type of shoe. Nikes cost close to a hundred dollars sometimes, have all these special liqi-gel soles and air pumps. Retired NASA scientists are probably pulled into Nike to make their shoes. Let's not even think that little Pui Ki living in some shack in a remote Chinese province is making 2 cents a week for the shoes.

Some people believe you can tell a lot about a person by looking at their shoes. Converse All Stars are just there. They are so good in their simplicity. They aren't flashy or pretentious.

As they are made only from rubber soles and canvas, mine last like 3 months before they get completely worn out. Converse All-Stars have a name attached to them, Chuck Taylor, but I don't even know who that is. Converse All-Stars, to me were *the* shoe in high-school. No flashy name (like Michael Jordan), more casual than athletic, easily bought even with my part-time mall job, and looked good no matter what I wore. (Try that with a blinding white basketball shoe.)

Now I am in a dilemma. True, this dilemma didn't occur to me until yesterday when I saw for the first time that Converse had been bought out by Nike. My black Chucks are really falling apart and soon will need a replacement. Should I look for another shoe, or suck it up and buy the Chucks?

I shudder to think about this anymore. I feel I have lost a good friend.