Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Boys will be boys

The night before my first 15's tournament SB told me that we were invited for a movie and games at a teammate's home. What he failed to tell me was that he and said teammate were both injured and would not be too concerned with being in tip top rugby form the next day. I arrived at the flat to discover a handful of Canadians playing dice and watching that Will Ferrell movie about a singer's life, that was pretty funny. Despite much urging I resisted joining the game. I resisted for two reasons: first, I am not a big game person. I prefer physical activity and tire quickly of most games or become unbearably competitive. There have been a few exceptions. I have enjoyed Cranium, that National Geographic explorer game, catch phrase (within a certain time frame), and most recently, mah jong with SB's family. I may like chess if I ever took it up.

The second reason, and the most important, was that from the red faces and eye glazing, I could see that the group was well lubricated and I would not be able to catch up even if I wanted to. They were at the point that their taste buds had been drowned and they were quite adventurous in their drink mastering. My bottle of diet coke was confiscated to be mixed with rum, beer, and who knows what else went into that center cup.

Eventually the party moved on in the direction of another gathering, this time of hockey players. SB and I intended to make our breakaway then so I could have dinner and rest for the game. As we rounded the corner though, we saw some fellow rugby players in a bar. We diverted into the bar, intending only to say hello, but as I have mentioned before, SB is a dawdler. First we threw peanuts back and forth. Then there was some chatter, then more peanut throwing, then rinse and repeat. After some hints, I was forced to interrupt and announce my immense hunger (it was almost 11). SB finally got frog marched outside but then did not know where we could get dinner now that it was so late. So we marched back into the bar and got pub food.

We settled down with the rugby boys and while we had dinner, high content Belgian beer flowed freely. Then more chatter. Belly full, I was ready to go home. SB continued to merrily dawdle. It was not entirely his fault because I was also having a good time, but I had a game coming quickly upon me. I didn't want to turn this into an event, but then suddenly shirts disappeared and dancing ensued.

We didn't leave until almost 2 am. Since he didn't have to play in the morning, SB failed to understand why I may have been irritated at the late hour. He slept very well as I was scrambling to assemble my kit and make it to the pitch on time in the morning. Grrr

Though I must admit a fun time was had by all. I was laughing hysterically when I wasn't cringing.

SB dances while Canadian N rocks the power ballad.
Note that everyone else is pretending not to notice.

Canadian C applies face paint while SB notices something...

"Say, is that a nipple piercing? I can help you remove that."

One of the memorable moments of the night occurred at the discovery of the nipple ring. Canadian N indicated that he had quite of bit of enjoyment when women played with it. SB promptly gave it a small tug and told him that every time a woman touched said nipple ring, he hoped Canadian N would think of him.

Life as you knew it: Cornell

Almost four years have passed since I left Texas for Grad school. Three and a half years for the Master of Architorture plus one extra semester tacked on to do a Master of Planning. It has been a wild and wonderful ride. All of it. I will never regret staying in Texas to do undergrad. I loved every minute of it. I enjoyed San Antonio, I relished A&M, I loved it all. When I talk with SB and others, I realize that very few people had the experience that I did. I took time off from college to make sure that I was doing what I wanted to do and it has made all of the difference. SB is fine with undergrad. I am still delighted with my education. I had fun. I played rugby, I went camping, I went on road trips, I went to Europe, I did everything I wanted to do. I went to a school immersed in spirit. And I made decent grades while I was at it.

The grades were good enough that I wound up at Cornell for grad school. Where I met SB. Where all the pieces fell into place. SB got his MBA there. His time as a student at Cornell are the best of his life, and he has had quite a life. He went to boarding school where he got into more than his fair share of shenanigans, followed by undergrad at Union College and study abroad in Nanjing, China, where he feels that some of his future goals were put into place (such as moving to Hong Kong). But at Cornell he thrived. He and I bonded over how we just seemed to be doing everything we could to soak up every last bit of Cornell's essence. Between the two of us, at Cornell we have coached a rugby team, played in a rugby team, played hockey, played polo, played lacrosse, windsurfed, raced dragon boats, studied in Italy, and have taken class trips to Puerto Rico, Buenos Aires, Rotterdam, Mexico, Canada, New Orleans, and London.

It has been such a blessing to have studied there and made our own little contributions. We are both longing and yearning and hoping to return.

Below: my quick collage of four years all shoved into a few pixels. Ahhh... life as I knew it.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The sweetness

but first... the sweatness. My SB sweats like nothing I have ever encountered. After hockey he can literally wring out his shirt. It even sickens his hardened teammates. He is very proud of this. He told me that he wondered how much he actually wrings out. He wanted to try to bottle it. There is a sports drink here called Pocari Sweat. It is like Gatorade. Because of this sweat bottling reference I can no longer drink the Pocari without thinking of SB and becoming nauseous.

SB then pontificated about his sweat. He wondered if it would be too over the top to wring out his sweat into a bottle and then drink it. I almost vomited. I am lightheaded just typing this, but I am sharing it with you fair readers because it is so bad that someone will enjoy it. I also added a picture of his expression as he was discussing his disgustingness as I choked and dry heaved.

He does enjoy tormenting me. And this next worthy shot is how lovely he looks after rugby practice. This was on the tram home, half an hour after his shower. And yes, he towelled off and was dry at one point. His body just kept sweating long after practice had ended and the result, as you can see, is him sitting there, soaking wet again. I can't go anywhere with him!

We are fortunate to be living in an area that is full of tasty food choices. There are two places we frequent to the point that they know us and give us special treatment. In return we return and he sweats all over their establishments and entices other customers to dine there, I am sure. One place is a tea house or cha chaan teng, which is a term for a local diner like establishment. Cheung Sing Cafe is my favorite and conveniently located down the street. The other is Moon's Kitchen (not to be confused with Moon's House Dessert in CWB). I like this place a lot for two reasons. First, the food is lighter than the usual slightly fried and oily Chinese food and there are many menu items that are definitely Thai and Vietnamese in origin. I suspect that someone who owns the place or is in the kitchen is one of my mother's people.

The second reason is that there are quite a few varieties of drinks and desserts offered. I must confess now that I am a HUGE fan of Durian. SB cannot find words to describe his horror of the fruit. It does smell awful but is so tasty. He calls it stinkyfruit. It is banned from our home. One time I snuck some home and ziplocked and double bagged it to the bottom drawer of the fridge. SB is perpetually congested with allergies so I thought I was in the clear but he came home, turn up his long and equine snout, and began berating me for violating the "stinkyfruit" ban. He also said that I could not consume durian in his presence but the waitress egged me on so I had some. Deeelicious. I had mine with tapioca pearls and ice cream.

SB had some warm almond paste. It was light and full of subtle almond flavor. He doesn't like nuts in his dessert but he's okay with nut essence. Same thing goes for tomatoes. Weirdo.

Moon's Kitchen, or Moon House Dessert is located across the the bus terminus
G/F, 35 Wong Nai Chung Road, Happy Valley

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The thrill of it all

I didn't think that I would play rugby again, at least not regularly and competitively. My body isn't where it used to be. I've eaten my way into a different weight class, I'm not fit or limber, and that treasonous body is breaking down in the knees.

I went to the Causeway Bay practice to see SB, or so I told myself. I was impressed with the women's practice and filled with just a bit of longing but I remained firm that those days were safely behind me. I had taken up windsurfing anyway, and was enjoying it immensely.

At the end of the practice something very minor happened. One of the players missed a pass and the ball rolled over to me. Instinctively I put out my foot to stop the ball. I am not exaggerating when I say that I felt a jolt go through me from the tip of my foot resting on the ball, up my leg. It's like when people say that in sudden dangerous moments their lives pass before their eyes except in my case the jolt brought the feelings of past rugby experiences: the triumph, the exhilaration, the pain, the exhaustion that goes into your bones, everything.

So I played my first tournament with the Causeway Bay Phoenix team. I am definitely out of shape and was unable to loop the runners like I used to, or get to breakdowns quickly. But that is something to work on. Who knows, maybe I will get back into the former shape. In the meantime I am having fun.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Mid-Autumn Festival

I asked SB if we were on a ship that was sinking and there was only room for one more on the life boat, would he pick me or his computer. He asked me how far from shore we were.

The Mid-Autumn Festival has passed here. It is a Lunar festival. In the past I would run around with a beautiful fish lantern made out of red, pink, orange, and gold cellophane and at the end of the night all the kids would congregate at the pond in our neighborhood and try to float our lantern candles or create burning wax sculptures on the edge. It was the only time of the year that the management would let us wade into the pond. All the usual six legged water inhabitants would flee for their lives. Those that didn't heed the evacuation warning would be caught and burned.

We tell cultural tales and exchange moon cakes. In Vietnamese culture, the cakes are square, but in Chinese culture they are round. And sometimes treacherous. Chinese have more variety to their moon cakes and that is not always a good thing. I prefer the traditional lotus filled cake with a salted duck yolk in the center (symbolizing the moon).

Actually, I don't really like the yolk but always feel compelled to eat some of it due to nostalgic association. Unfortunately there is another traditional moon cake that is absolutely gross. It is filled with what seems to be bits of ham and fruitcake filling. I cannot find words to describe the feeling as a child when I would bite into a creamy lotus paste cake only to discover that it was instead some chunky candied fruit and ham mixture. Also, there are newer variations with red bean paste, some yellow paste, etc. Whatever happens to be lying around. The ones in the picture were given to SB at work. They have gold on top. Oooh. That's right. We're so well off that we're eating gold.

We also went to a friend's house for dinner. She made several delicious and complimentary dishes. I like the differences in Chinese entertaining. There is a lot of attention payed to separate and individual dishes that go nicely together. In American food we have a palate decorated with a main part of a meat with veggie and starch sides, perhaps separate soup and salad, and then dessert. In this meal there was a refreshing soup, followed by three artfully arranged dishes, not necessarily of one kind. There was one poultry plate, but then there was a fish plate that was cooked with scallions, with its own sauce. Then the vegetables came with shrimp so they could have been their own meal as well. SB and I brought dessert, a black forest cake that we picked up at a Japanese bakery.

I had wanted to make panna cotta but we didn't have time because we were coming from his rugby team's official signing or drafting or whatever it's called. It would have worked. The other thing I have noticed here is that the Chinese like breads to be sweeter than I like. In general the cakes are not especially sweet but all bread and cake is very, very light and spongy. I have heard that Chinese do not like dessert to be especially rich and I have to agree with that observation. You will not find butter cream in cakes here. You will find a lot of fruit and fluffy stuff. SB is not a fan of fruit in dessert with the single exception of apple pie. Not blueberry or peach or anything else. And certainly no warm bananas (my bananas foster was a hit with everyone in his family but him).

After dinner we swilled wine and watched SB play beginner level guitar hero. It is much more entertaining than I could imagine and I will have to be strong and steadfast in my resistance to gaming devices in our own home. He already has too much real stuff without making a virtual collection. I include a picture of his hockey bag to illustrate why we don't have room in our tiny, one bedroom shoebox o' love. I wish there was a way to upload the smell of sweaty, unwashable, sour hockey pads.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Shoes

These shoes are my favorites. I have several that I consider to be prettier but these have great karma. I promised to post the shoe story after the opera story so now I shall.

It all began with my best friend's wedding. She had really planned out quite an event: elegant, dramatic, full of jewel tones and Autumn flowers. Not wanting any color that one day would make the wedding pictures dated, she picked black for the bridesmaid dresses. My initial fears of the color (or lack thereof) were overcome when I saw how beautiful my dress was. It was a sheath silhouette with tiered layers of silk charmeuse that flowed beautifully into a short train. The only thing I needed to do was buy a pair of shoes that fit her instructions of closed toed. She was not going to have any toes in her wedding pictures if she could help it.

The task seemed easy. I had it in my head that with such an ethereal gown leather just would not do. I needed soft fabric shoes, possibly satin to match the opulence of the silk charmeuse. I was living in Ithaca at the time and knew that buying nice shoes was out of the question there so I went to NYC for a weekend. I started at my shoe staple, Nine West. They always have at least a couple pairs of shoes that I like, and for relatively affordable prices. But no black satin shoes were to be had. After several hours of looking I quickly discovered that there were no satin shoes anywhere. Near my wit's end, I even trudged to a store carrying a huge selection of those Nina shoes that are made for formal occasions. The saleslady clucked at me and told me that no store would be stocking fabric shoes for another few weeks because they were "holiday" shoes.

As I was leaving in defeat I decided to try another Nine West store. Lo and behold there was one pair of zexy black satin shoes. Too zexy in fact. They had a back zipper and rhinestone buckles on the ankle straps. Oh yeah, to add to the dilemma, I should mention that I have extremely high arches in my feet, and coupled with little ankles, it makes wearing pumps nearly impossible unless I have the aid of an ankle strap. These pumps had that, and they didn't have sides so my arches wouldn't rise over the side of the shoe as they normally do. I debated the extra sexy vs ankle straps, low sides, satin for a while and decided to go with the shoes. It was a great decision because the dress was long enough to only show the matching fabric of the shoes under the dress so no one saw what a tart I was. And the shoes were amazingly comfortable.

The second occasion that I wore the shoes was also a formal wedding. I had on another floor length dress. Again, the shoes amazed me by how comfortable they were. This time, however, someone did see what a tart I was. When we got to our hotel room (in Hotel Mela, which was by far the most wonderful and romantic hotel room I have experienced in NYC) I proceeded to take off the dress and carefully hang it up. As I was standing in my underwear with the shoes on SB took notice. Ooolala. And that is all I have to say about that.

The third wearing of the shoes was for the opera we attended. I figure they were worth every penny I paid despite only three wearings because I have the fondest memories from my times in those shoes.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Night at the Opera

Last weekend SB took me to see our first opera together. It almost didn't happen for a number of reasons. First, when he asked me, I replied that I had nothing to wear. This is a very typical woman's argument but nonetheless valid. I only brought two suitcases of clothing and items here and an opera outfit was not in the packing list. His response was that he would find another date then. And he wonders why I sometimes do not appreciate his humor!

On second thought he agreed to buy me a dress. So I spent the rest of the week searching for something that would benefit more than one use and still be suitable for opera. I have to add in that right now in Hong Kong it is miserably hot and humid so you cannot help but to sweat like a horse and this doesn't make me want to try on nice dresses that I will only sweat in. I ended up buying a dress, but it was less opera and more long summer dress. But as I was trying it on I remembered that I did have something I could wear. I had a blouse that I had bought to go to a nice art opening in New York. I could pair this with the Banana Republic silk satin pencil skirt that I bought over a year ago and never wore because it turned out to be too nice to wear to the office and too mature to wear on an evening out with my homies, although I have since fantasized about where I could wear it. Purrrrfect. I could pair it with those incredibly sexy black satin shoes that I have only worn twice but are worth every penny that I paid for them. I will post the shoe story next.

SB ended up surprising me by picking out and purchasing earrings to go with my opera outfit. Sometimes he amazes me. He really is all boy so this is a huge deal (not at all like Kristen and Jennifer's husbands who can buy them nice, fitting clothing). SB's only attempt at buying me something to wear in our entire relationship was a SHINY turquise shirt that could have fit me and my sister. His explanation was that it was the closest thing in the store he could find to my favorite color of jade green (note: just b/c it is my favorite color does not mean that I want to be decked out like a leprechaun all the time). And having payed no attention to my clothing before he figured that if it was too small for him to wear then it must fit me, right?

So now it was Saturday night and I was looking very nice, if I do say so myself. I bothered to put my hair in some half updo with the rest cascading down my back, just like I know he likes, and I had those awesome shoes on. This is where it all went wrong. SB is a dawdler. He claims not to be but his sister verified for me that he just does things on his own clock. So he tinkered around and we didn't leave until half an hour before the show started. I gave him some grief over that but he was sure we would make it. Not only did he have the start time wrong by 15 minutes, but his credit card wasn't working when he went to purchase the tickets that he reserved and then when he located me at the entrance and got my card, we were half an hour into the opera. I was not interested in missing the first act so we decided to get tickets for Sunday night.

All was not lost because he took me to an amazing dinner of tapas and paella at El Cid. I think there must have been some guilt over the blunder b/c on our way back to the island he bought me a beautiful silk dress (shops here are open late), making it his third clothing purchase for me in a week, and only the fourth clothing purchase in our relationship. Does this mean I am on my way to being a kept woman?

Sunday we made it on time to the opera. We saw Don Carlo, which is one of the Verdi operas that I am not so familiar with. I have discovered that I am quite an opera fan. I felt the music piercing right to my soft, mushy little heart, and enjoyed everything, from the stage set to the high drama to sitting next to SB and enjoying how handsome he looks in a suit. I think the best part was how good it felt to be sitting with him and enjoying high art together. He told me of a time when he was young and he went with his parents to an opera. He saw an empty row of seats near the front so before the next act he snuck past security and sat in the row. The soprano looked out at the audience and saw him, a young boy sitting alone in an empty row watching the opera, and she winked at him.

I would have winked at him, also.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The New Frontier

I've moved my blog here. It seems fitting, as I have moved across the world to Hong Kong to live with my hunny. I decided that he needs a nickname, just in case he wants more privacy from my rantings. I shall call him SB. He is, after all, my snuggle bug. And when he isn't so snuggly, he can be my son of a ... bug. SB.

The last few months before the big move were traumatic for both of us. SB was already here and waiting for over a year while I was having attacks of the what ifs. Packing up your whole life (and giving a lot of it away) so that all you have left can fit onto the plane or in storage is difficult, to put it mildly. I did not have anywhere near the cathartic experience I had moving to Ithaca from Texas four years ago. I think this was because I have lost that familiar sense. It's not like I can run into the nearest mall and buy back my clothes, household items, etc. There's no (gasp!) Target, no supermarket, no familiar clothing stores where I know the sizes will fit and I won't look like a bag full of doorknobs.

Everything is new and different. I feel different. SB has a different life. In Ithaca, we lived in a small town setting, surrounded by vast, open space. I had a job and he had lots of time. We hiked, swam, wind surfed, played rugby... he played hockey and lacrosse and took up polo. Here we are in an international supercity. Some things are similar, yet still different. There is still rugby and hockey but he has to lug his gear onto the metro and cross the sea into Kowloon side to get to the rink. The trails are paved and manicured, and look back into the city. I am looking for a job and he works a lot.

We are enjoying getting to know each other again in this alternate universe. Some things are still familiar. We cuddle the same. He still wraps his arm around mine when we go to sleep; he still needs to be touching me. I still wake up with my nose smooshed into his armpit. And then there are the new things. Last weekend he took me to the opera. As we sat in the theater, he held me hand. His fingers intertwined with mine, or at times stroked my hand. Sitting there in the dark with his hand over mine, I felt cherished. It felt good to be home with him.