Friday, October 30, 2009


I found out some very sad news tonight. An architecture student has died "unexpectedly." He took a leave of absence two years ago, right before I finished my thesis. I was so busy at the time that I never spoke to him. Before Rio there was another student, from Hong Kong, who took his life after failing his thesis.

I wish that I could go back in time and tell these young men that nothing is ever so big. What seemed unbearable to me when I was in my teens and twenties is a forgotten memory. Don't ever think that it is too late because it doesn't have to be. We should all allow ourselves room to grow.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

the sound of a wall crashing down

Being the more verbose of the two of us, I was easily pulling ahead in our ongoing debate. I was happily mortaring up the latest brick in my growing wall of defense when he pulled out this response:

"I am not saying that we should have children but if we don't I will, on some level, feel like a failure by Darwinian standards."

Oooh, burn! Now I have to rebuild. Perhaps an essay on how Darwinian standards are outdated in an increasingly fragile ecosystem.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

who's going to carry the pig?

SB and I attended a remarkable wedding this weekend. It was quite the banquet, with three hours of cocktails, during which the bride and groom stood in the same place and took hundreds of photos, followed by a 13 course dinner and live band. I was exhausted and I imagine the bride and groom were also, even though you never would have known it from their glowing smiles. The event almost made me rethink my plan to elope to the nearest register.

Up until this weekend I had almost convinced SB of my plan. I sweetly described the scene of us strolling leisurely through the botanical gardens where I used to walk every week with my family 20 years ago on our weekly return from mass at St. Josephs. We would then make our way to the historic Rawlinson House where we would be quickly and easily married. I even found out that the US does not require registration of the wedding and would simply acknowledge our union as long as it is legal under HK law. Piece of cake!

SB is not against my proposal, but I can see that he is still leaning toward a more formal event. He still wants a formal engagement with a shiny ring, followed by a wedding in his beloved Adirondacks. He is even more keen now that he knows that I don't care where we get married. Since I could not talk him into my plan, I tried to talk him out of his.

"You realize that if we do the big blowout in the woods, then my family will want a hometown reception as well?" He nodded. "I think it's going to be very costly...and not just financially."

While we would be having the typical American wedding in the Adirondacks, my family event would have to include our Vietnamese heritage. Our traditions are very similar to the Chinese. This means that SB would have to show up at my parents' house with his groomsmen and be put through their paces by my family. My father would demand proof of his devotion. My mother would want him to show his gentle side. My ong ba ngoai (grandparents) would be so excited that they would have no demands. But my sister...I cackled gleefully at the thought of my sister's demands.

My sister and I are as dissimilar as two sisters can be, but we share mutual fierce love for each other. While I am a bit of a tomboy despite my shoe addiction, my sister is very feminine. She is a doting nurse practitioner who always smells like flowers. She loves to go dancing, doesn't consume alcohol, always looks pretty, and can somehow manage to endear others while being a diva. When she met SB, she expressed a mixture of delight and horror. She thought he was handsome and funny and appropriately crazy about me but she was appalled by how "manly" he was. "He needs to treat you better," she lectured me, "You should be his princess." She seemed disappointed when I told her not to hold her breath for him to start showering me with presents like her boyfriend did. And while she was at it, she shouldn't hold her breath over me turning into a princess either. SB does buy me flowers and presents, just not every week. And if he recited poetry for me I would probably never have sex with him again.

Yes, if SB wants the princess wedding, he will have to deal with my princess sister. I gleefully described to him how I imagined that she would put him through his paces. She would demand money and presents from him, proof of his ability to sustain me. She would inspect the groom's entourage to make sure that they were committed to assisting him in caring for me. His family would have to carry a large feast to show how much they would offer for me. And you know how these Asian weddings are.

Someone in his family would have to carry the pig.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

we say the darndest things

I decided that a solution to SB eating my dinner would be to make him lots of food so that he would not eat mine. I had never made a pizza before but it wasn't too hard. SB had mentioned how much he liked the Chicago deep dish (I am a fan of the thin, char-crusted Napoli style myself) so I dug up a recipe and it turned out great. I wanted to include pictures, as I was so proud of it, but SB literally bumped me out of the way and dove into it while it was cooling on the counter. I am not exaggerating. He had been waiting for not even thirty minutes but the scent of it baking sent him into a frenzy. I could only watch in dismay as he was bent over the counter, shoving his face into the pizza like a crazed animal.

It was only then that I realized how bad his carb addiction is.

Later that night, we had an interesting conversation.

me: Baby...
SB: yes?
me: If we were stuck in some deserted island, would you eat me?
SB: Well, would you be dying?
me: Yes. Both of us are starving to death.
SB: Maybe. Yes.
me: But I'm not the only one dying. We both are. Can't we just die together?
SB: That doesn't sound so smart.
(long pause)
SB: Well, maybe we could try to prolong it. What if we just ate a leg or something.
me: I don't want you to eat my leg! Wouldn't you feel awful after we got rescued, knowing that you ate my leg?
SB: I wasn't saying yours. (reaching down and feeling my leg) Yeah, there's not so much meat there.
me: But a leg makes me sad. What if we just lopped off my butt?
SB: No, that won't work
me: How about the extraneous parts? We could first remove my appendix...and a kidney.
SB: Too much risk of infection.
me: how about drinking blood?
SB: No good. You would lose more energy trying to recover. No net gain.
...the thing would be very hard to motivate myself to lop off a leg.
me: I know. I would be very upset. We should just die together.
(then I snuggle up to him, satisfied with my solution)
SB: sigh.

Almost all of our danger scenario conversations end with me wanting to go down with him and him wanting to do whatever it took to survive. If this situation ever did occur, I can predict that he will let me think that we are going to slowly starve together but then he would hold out until I passed away and then eat me. Win-win situation.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mommy needs a time out

I came home last night to a quiet home because SB was in the middle kingdom visiting his factory. After not hearing from him I perused the fridge for a tasty leftover. There was one serving of spaghetti that was calling my name. I heated up my plate and sat down to watch some rugby on my computer when SB suddenly arrived, hungry. What was for dinner? Well, since you never called to let me know that you were coming home tonight, there is no dinner. He let me know that he liked my spaghetti. I asserted that it was mine. He sat next to me and made no attempt to find food. Feeling a bit of sympathy, I offered him a bite while he thought about dinner. Then I took two bites and let him take another bite. One scrum on the computer later, he returned to me an empty plate. "Did you just eat my dinner?!" He looked surprised, "Oh, I thought you were done and letting me finish it," "Why would I only want two bites of food for dinner?" I was not amused. This was the third time he has consumed my dinner and left me hungry. He offered to run to the grocery store but it was way too late for that. The only option was reheated dumplings from 7-11. I shot him my most dreadful stinkeye while I gnawed on some fish flavored dough blobs.

Later on, I retreated to my room to play with my new toy. No, not that kind of toy. I bought a Powerball from Escapade sports earlier. It is a gyroscopic toy that develops my wrists and arms, and apparently is good for carpal tunnel syndrome. SB immediately wanted in on the fun even though he was already playing with my ipod. He took it out of my hand because I wasn't working it properly and proudly showed off his abilities. "Hey," he said, "this is surprisingly fun!" Yes, yes it is. Especially when you're not watching someone else have fun. I could see that he wasn't tiring so I walked off to do the dishes. A minute later I heard a yelp. I shook my head and went to check on my overgrown teenager. Apparently he was so interested in the rapidly spinning ball that he held the Powerball to his chest to see what would happen. Did I mention that he was pleasantly fuzzy? Can you guess what happened? So I had my new toy for less than four hours and it was already covered in ripped out chest hair.

I snatched the Powerball and put it away. Unfortunately when you are the midget in the relationship, there is no place out of reach.

I need a drink.

Monday, October 12, 2009

another doomsday approaches

This shall be the last, last, last day of the universe, as opposed to the last day and the last, last day. For everyone who missed the spaceship in Y2K there is another day for the end of the world, for the Mayan calendar is about to run out. And we all know what that means.

No, not because the calendar writers may have simply lost interest in adding more years to their precise and rigorous record, but because that was when they knew it would all be over for mankind. 2012 is the end of the world, but don't discuss that with the Mayan. Apparently they're sick of hearing about it. Oh, and they would like us to know that actually, some of the ancient calendars actually go on to 4772.

And they don't sell flute music. Those are the Inca.

Friday, October 9, 2009

the ball and chain

I took advantage of last week's Thursday holiday to participate in my first ladies' night in Wanchai. After hearing my sad story of not having girl friends in HK, the ladies from the Valley team invited me out. As soon as I could leave work, I raced home and threw on one of the summer dresses in my closet. As I was fleeing the flat, SB followed in hot pursuit. Ahem, did I not tell him that I was going out with the girls? He remembered but was simply accompanying me to Wanchai because he fancied a kabob at Ebeneezer's. At least that was his story. We shared a taxi and arrived right in front of Ebeneezer's. I kissed him goodbye and took off for Typhoon's to meet the ladies...but he was still following. Then I got a text that the women had already moved on to Swindler's. I had to move fast if I wanted in on ladies' night. I dashed off toward Swindler's for my first ever tray of shots. But that would have to wait for another night because the ladies were now moving on the Carnegie's where they hoped to get in some dancing. We all met at the corner of Lockhart and Fenwick. "Hello ladies," I said. "Hello," they replied. Then, awkward pause. "Er, do you know SB?" I indicated to my shadow. He actually looked shy. Finally I asked, "Do you mind if he hangs out with us?" At this point, Liz smiled broadly and graciously invited him along.

And so this is how ladies' night became ladies and SB night. I think some of the women were slightly surprised and amused that he was along. He happily raced along with us as we went from bar to bar, even joining us in dancing. Eventually he grew tired and I took him home. I was happy to leave with him and delighted at my new-found female friends. I happily embrace my fuzzy shadow because it was not so long ago that this would have been incomprehensible.

After dating for five months, SB and I attended the wedding of one of his best friends. The groom, three other men, and SB had grown up together. I was chatting with one of the besties as we watched others dance around us. He casually joked about how SB never would dance. "Really?" I was not aware of this. SB and I had never gone out dancing but he liked to drag me around the house to anything from the Rolling Stones to Frank Sinatra. "He has never danced as long as I have known him," his friend warned. Of course I had to give it a shot. "Dance with me," I asked/demanded. For the next three songs, SB indulged me, which was not an easy task due to the fact that several people who had known him for practically his entire life we openly staring at us in shock. Or at least they were staring at him. I guess it wasn't an exaggeration that he didn't dance. If only they could see him now, shaking his carcass for all it was worth to Billie Jean in the midst of a large group of women.

I also recalled a time when I was not amused with him. After living in different countries for almost a year, we reunited in the Adirondacks before I moved with him to Hong Kong. I was very excited to be with him again and began wistfully asking him about when we would next be able to make it to the woods on vacation. He replied that while we were in Asia, we should be taking advantage of closer vacation destinations, such as skiing in Japan. "I don't know how to ski but I could learn," I began, but then he clarified that we didn't always have to go together on vacations. In fact, he was an advocate of separate vacations and had gone on quite a few in his other previous relationships. This did not make me happy. We had been separated for almost a year and he was talking about separate vacations?!

As it turns out, he seems to have forgotten that he likes separate vacations. This fact pleases me greatly. I am one of those people I used to detest. When I went to summer camp as a child, my parents would always happily send me off and wish me well. When I arrived at camp, among all the well adjusted campers was always some miserable child whose mother and father were asking if the child would miss them and pretty much making the poor child insecure and needy. "Try not be be sad and miss your dear mommy and daddy," they would say as they prepared little Sarah for a homesick, racked with guilt, afraid to have fun, time.

Yes, that's right. I foster his attachment to me so that I feel important. And now I am going to bake him his favorite dish in the whole world and remind him that I am the only one who can make it for him. Except that I wrote out the recipe for his sister and stepmother. Damn.