Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Melissa asked me yesterday if I was looking forward to Friday. I had to think for a bit before I realized she was referring to my departure to the States for vacation. Yep, I'm going to L.A. to see my parents, visit some friends in the SF Bay Area, and attend my Pi Reunion in Las Vegas.

Actually, I've been dreading Friday's approach, not only because I have so much to do before I leave--errands to run, the ORIENTED Happy Hour to plan and host, and other volunteer commitments--but also because I haven't lost any weight (in fact, I've gained a few pounds) and I'll see my mother on Friday. Every time I go to my parents' place, I'm racked with concern about my body--am I fatter, thinner? What will my mom say this time?

I know that this is pretty typical as many of my girlfriends get the same kinds of comments from their mothers, but sometimes I'd like to be more relaxed about my weight and not be so on edge about all of this.

Friday, August 15, 2003

My brother Galen leaves on Sunday back to the U.S. The seven weeks he has been here have swept by so quickly. I'll be sad to see him go, but I'll also take the next week to rest and recover.

This is not to say that Galen has ever demanded much of me. I've just felt the need to spend as much of these past precious seven weeks as possible with him, to entertain him, to make sure he has a good time as I try to cram two years of experiences into a summer. Have I been a good older sister? Have I taken him to different restaurants and holes-in-the-walls to taste what is rare in the States? Have I exposed him to the country's different cultural aspects? Shown him Taiwan's gorgeous natural beauty? Taken him to the hippest nightspots in town? Have I been too overprotective? Am I acting like his mommy, and not his sister? Have we caught up on each other's lives?

Maybe this is my way of validating my decision to live in Taiwan--see how much fun Taiwan is! Don't you want to join me? And Taiwan is a fun, warm place to live with--for me, at least--great career opportunities. I hope he's been able to feel that himself.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Post-lunch walk.

The heavy, humid air cloaks itself around me like an angora shawl around my face, making breathing difficult. Thunder heralds the arrival of cool bursts of air that briefly lift the shawl away from me. Still, I look forward to the freon-ated environment of my office, and scurry faster as a curtain of rain chases me.
I've been so busy these past couple of weeks I haven't had much time to sit down and reflect. I had a rare party weekend two weeks ago: on Friday, I hung out with Melissa, Sherwin, and James Shi, among other people, until the wee hours of the morning at Whisky and Kama. Saturday night, Angela threw a wonderful surprise farewell dinner party for Joaquin and Mate. Now, not only is Angela a model and singer, she's also a producer, director, and actor. After the party, we headed to Chic to wish Wendy a happy birthday. The evening ended with dancing at Plush. I think that's enough partying for the year; I certainly needed the whole week to recover from my weekend!

With the realization that Galen will be leaving this Sunday, last week I decided to take him to more unusual restaurants. Monday night was Taipei East, a Taiwanese restaurant that had an excellent omlet with a basil filling and a simmered tofu dish. On Wednesday, we sampled the food of Xi'an and Xinjiang at Xiao Xiao Ke. Dishes not to be missed include their whole-wheat flatbread (xiao bing, pork ribs (zi pai, crusty on the outside, incredibly tender on the inside), soba noodles, and fish with kumquat sauce. Thursday night, we picked up the suit and shirts we got made for Galen--all he needs now are a snazzy tie and cuff links and he'll be quite the suave ladies' man. Friday night, we saw Melissa off on her much-earned vacation to Canada.

Over the weekend, we had a yummy dim sum lunch at San Want Hotel, arranged by Carol. The cha sa su are not to be missed. Bonnie and I went for a reflexology session, and in the evening, Galen and I attended another farewell party for Joaquin and Mate, this one an elegant cocktail party at Jay's beautiful appointed home. Afterwards, we went to Brown Sugar to listen to jazz. Sunday we had a family lunch and dinner at my favorite huo guo place.

It's only Wednesday, but already, I feel like I am near the end of the week. On Monday night, we say Welly Yang's musical adaptation of Ang Lee's The Wedding Banquet. And last night, I played golf for the first time. This has all been interspersed between extremely hectic days at work, as I've been wrestling with the most uncooperative of Excel spreadsheets.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Virtualberta presents another only in Taiwan moment:

Convenience stores are ubiquitous throughout Taiwan, and are known for changing their merchandise frequently, particuarly in sync with holidays and the seasons. Monday was Valentine's Day in the lunar calendar. The 7-11 near my work had placed a display next the the checkout counter, with Ferrero Rocher chocolates, petit fours from a famous Japanese bakery, and a tastefully-wrapped, pyramid-shaped box of...condoms.

Well, now, that's being direct. "Aw, my valentine sent me a box of condoms to the office!" doesn't quite ring as well as, "Aw, my valentine sent me a bouquet of flowers to the office!"