Tuesday, December 31, 2013

dawn of a new day

Ok blog friends, I need your advice. I would like to watch the sunrise tomorrow morning. My backup plan is the Shek O headlands but I would prefer something that is more remote and involves exercise.

SB and I are experienced hikers with proper clothing and shoes. We will bring our GPS and headlamps so unless the trail is extreme, we should be well equipped for an overnight or early morning hike.

Monday, December 30, 2013


Did I recently mention how much I enjoy my morning goodbyes with SB? Hah! This morning I barely repressed to urge to yank the duvet off his sheet hogging body and whack him with a pillow. Repeatedly.

He said that he was going to dinner with some friends. Around midnight I decided not to wait up any longer and went to bed alone. At some time in the wee hours an elephant crashed through the bedroom door. I vaguely recall cracking open an eyelid at the commotion and witnessing him flailing about with his shirt half off.

Eventually he flopped into bed and tried to warm those gigantic flippers on my legs. I squeaked in protest and kicked him. Then I felt a cold flipper hook the hot water bottle that was warming my feet and drag it over to his side of the bed. I was too tired to fight back.

Hours later I awoke to find him impersonating a starfish and spread out across the middle of the bed. With a mighty shove, I heaved him over to his side. Not much later I awoke to find myself being pushed off the bed. Another shove got him back over to his side. No sooner had I fallen back asleep when he rolled back over. "Get oooooofffffff!!!" I shrieked. He finally rolled away, emitting an offended "hrmphh" and commenced with the snoring.

Yeah, he's not looking so adorable right now. And neither am I. I look like I feel, slouched over at my desk in sleep deprived misery.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

not for the books

While I had no problem with a friend of mine crowing over how romantic and wonderful her boyfriend is, I kinda wanted to punch her in the nose when she took it one step further and made disparaging comments upon hearing that SB regularly forgets my birthday. "What are you doing with him?" she had the nerve to demand. While I am annoyed at his forgetfulness, there are 364 other days in the year that are made more enjoyable because he is part of them. I don't understand people who measure the success of their relationships by grand gestures only. Maybe they read too many romance novels.

What I know is that every morning when I leave for work, I kiss him goodbye even though he is sleeping and won't remember. I do this because it makes me happy, because I adore him right down to his overlarge, Sasquatchy feet which I often tuck back under the duvet right before I kiss him. It is the best part of my day until I come home to see him in the evening.

SB will probably never feature in a romance novel despite being the rugged, manly man type that these novels like to feature. This is because unlike the schizophrenic romance men, SB won't suddenly fall on his knees and make a weepy declaration of love in front of all of the bitches who were mean to me in high school. Unless he suddenly suffers a stroke. Rugged men don't do that crap.

That doesn't mean that SB isn't romantic. He likes gardening and presents me with lovely, flowering plants. He shows me how much he loves and treasures me in other ways that sure beat public declarations and expensive, designer gifts (not that there's anything wrong with it if you like that sort of thing). This Christmas he bought me a ski jacket. Never mind that I can't ski and don't particularly like to be cold. The point was that he loves skiing and wanted to share the thing he loves with me. Many years ago I knew that he loved me because he dragged me on a long, miserable march up a mountain and at the top, he took my frozen, blue hand in his and told me that when he was younger, he thought that the wintertime mountaintop was one of the most beautiful sights that he had ever seen. I blinked back frozen tears of joy and sniffled with my cold, red nose at his thoughtfulness in taking me to the most beautiful sight.

Anyway, I once heard my friend yelling over the phone at her romance hero boyfriend because he hadn't given her flowers when she returned from a business trip. Sounds like Prince Charming ended up with the stepsister, I thought snarkily. Me, I prefer my hero to have a bit more backbone.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

zombie apocalypse

With all of the bacterial and viral mutations that are popping up these days, I'm not so sure that the threat of a zombie outbreak isn't conceivable. We already have toxins that destroy the brain, parasites that eat the brain, and diseases that infect the brain.  The only problem is how are we going to be able to identify zombies in Hong Kong?

From 6pm onward during weekdays the walking dead seem to roam through Central. I have the misfortune of having to attend a board meeting at an office in the middle of Central on certain evenings and it's an uphill battle against hordes of office workers who are stumbling around with their faces stuck to their phones. In my own office, most of my colleagues put on their headphones on the way out of the doors and join the masses that clog up the district by stumbling around slowly because no one can take the time to look up from their shiny phone screens to notice that they are walking into the side of a tram (yes, I actually saw a young lady step off the median into the side of a stopped tram).

On weekends, only the desperate or unfortunate will enter Causeway Bay because of the shopping zombies. There must be some sort of brain sucking transmission employed by dastardly marketing executives because mall goers tend to be rendered deaf and dumb once they enter a shop. How else can I explain why a perfectly normal looking couple will stop suddenly in the middle of a thoroughfare and then both of them will gape at a shopfront with their mouths open while pedestrians run into them? And what else could be the cause of a crazed pair of women in ugly, rhinestone affixed, velour tracksuits and dragging monstrous, pink suitcases trying to violently insert themselves in the front of the lift queue at Sogo?

Zombies are already here.

Friday, December 27, 2013

a good time was had by one

I was supposed to play in a boxing day lacrosse match but my Christmas day sniffles became something more overnight and I found myself huddled under the covers in a ball of misery. SB tried to cheer me up but by the afternoon I was ready to shove his head through his guitar.

Finally I caught him looking out the window at the women who were gathering for the game and came up with a plan. "There may not be enough people if I withdraw," I told him, "I think you should go to replace me."

"Are you sure?" he asked dubiously, "there aren't any other guys."  I assured him that it was fine and pushed him out of the door. I may have thrown the deadbolt for good measure. Then I laid back down and soaked up the blessed sound of silence.

Five minutes later, the phone rang. "Are you sure it's alright for me to play?" he asked, "because I told them that you said it was okay and they are looking at me weirdly."

"They're just shy," I responded and hung up on him.

SB woke me a couple hours later to tell me how much fun he had. "Once I dodged the first defender, I just started running and no one could keep up!" He also scored a bunch of goals until it occurred to him that maybe he should pass the ball to the women who were yelling at him. He may have run a few of the smaller players out of bounds but it was hard to tell since he was a foot taller and couldn't see.

He couldn't wait to play with the girls again. He liked using my stick because even though it doesn't have a pocket like a men's stick so he couldn't wind up, the curve at the head allowed him to really rip off a painfully hard shot. I'm sure that the goalie loved that. In fact, no one has contacted meyet  to let me know when the next match will be...

Friday, December 20, 2013

stair saver

Escalators must be different over in the mainland. I frequently watch Chinese tourists stepping gingerly onto them as though afraid of being swept away. Along with moving more slowly in China, escalators over there apparently work differently; it appears that some escalators only produce a limited number of steps.

At least that was the explanation that I came up with for what happened today. I was about to step onto the moving stair conveying machine when a woman barged in front of me. This is not a rare thing to happen when you share lunch hours with several million people on a small island. But then the woman stopped moving. I tried to walk around her but she had her arm outstretched and was bending with her ass out to block me like some ladies do when trying to herd children ahead of you to a train seat rather than simply saying, "excuse me."

I immediately looked down for a kid, but there was none. Then, three other women finally scurried over and they all got on, blocking the left side where where people usually walk. Of course. I was left standing behind them, bewildered. What was that lady doing? Saving stairs? I wanted to tap her on the shoulder and explain that escalator stairs are a renewing resource; they never run out. Escalators are magic like that.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

much merrier

After a brief respite I am back to the holiday feasting with a vengeance. I am double booked for tonight with an office party followed by a barbecue. The BBQ party hostess has not been dissuaded by the cold temperature and rain, much to my chagrin. I have to leave the office party and rush over to Yuen Long so that I can shiver over a small grill. 

There was a competition at the office for the work group with the most festive decorations. The group closest to me went all out. They are currently all wearing white beards and sitting in desks that are adorned with streamers and origami trees. The next group over has stockings and paper snowflakes. The company directors walked by and applauded their jolly efforts.  Then they stopped at my group and shook their heads.

So we didn't exactly do much. Okay, we did nothing unless you could the tree ornament sitting on Joe's desk but it is there because it fell off of the office tree and we stole it. Maybe we should have commandeered a couple more goodies. There was some tinsel attached to the coffee machine that could have adorned  a table or two. And I swear that all of us wearing black sweaters was a coincidence.

As I pointed out to my boss, the Grinch and Scrooge have their places in Christmas, too.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

merry making

We had our rugby club dinner and party last night. When the date was chosen, we were unaware that this was also SantaCon. We could have saved a fortune on booze because by the time dinner began, most of the Santas were already merry. We could have also saved a fortune in food because I doubt most of the party goers remembered the delicious meal. Having eaten many British Christmas dinners in my five and a half years in HK, I can conclude with confidence that British holiday desserts, or puddings, are pretty much SB and my childhood nightmares come to life. I despise raisins and candied fruit while he dislikes boozy dessert and most forms of warm fruit.

After dinner our crew headed out for a pub crawl. There were four other women in the party but that was enough that I had dance partners; I hadn't gone dancing in a while and that was my goal. The women were dressed to the nines and looked hot while the men...well, they looked like what you would expect from men who had been drinking for twelve hours while dressed in white felt and red velour suits. Except for the one man dressed as a creepy Christmas tree. I'm somewhat sure that his costume was made for someone much smaller than he was.

At some point in the night, Creepy Tree flirted with a couple of women. One of their boyfriends appeared and tried to kick the tree where his Christmas presents would have been located. Creepy Tree is a lover, not a fighter, so he chose not to acknowledge the troll's drunken and unsporting attempts at branch trimming and walked away. We thought that was the end until about it ten minutes later when the troll suddenly ran over to try to kick our tree again. If I hadn't thought the guy was drunk, I was sure of it at that point because he didn't seem to notice that the tree that he was after was standing in the midst of a forest of large Santas. Two of the Santas were over six and a half feet. And wearing red. How you would fail to notice this while trying to assault their friend is beyond me.

There was a lot of pushing and name calling but nothing more, thankfully. The troll was barely upright and none of his swinging punches actually connected with anyone. His friends ran outside and called the Santas racists, which I am starting to notice is a common way for drunken Chinese men to try to win arguments when they haven't a leg to stand on. "Your friend is a slobbering moron." "That's because you're racist!"

The staff at the bar came over and threw the other people out. We went back to dancing. Then ten minutes later the troll and his posse were back, this time whining about how he lost his ugly baseball hat and demanding that we find it for him. Amazingly a few of the Santas obliged and looked about the floor area for the hat. Then the troll started yelling again and the bar staff once again arrived and escorted him outside. After that, we spent the rest of the night dancing without any more silliness. This dancing queen may have overindulged because I was feeling a rather strong beat pounding in my head when I awoke at an embarrassingly late time. I was never more grateful that the rain caused my lacrosse training to be cancelled. Last time I showed up hung over, I got hit in the head by a ball when I failed to raise my stick and catch it like I was supposed to do.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

the second night of Christmas dinner

Technically, the first dinner wasn't really a Christmas dinner, but I won a present so it counts as festive. 

Last night our rugby committee had dinner together at Carnegie's. Carnage is our team's oldest running sponsor and we have spent many a Saturday evening toasting successes and trying to forget failures at the bar. This was the second time that I have joined the committee for dinner. Last year we did not dine on a Friday night and sat in the corner tables but this time it was madness. We had a table for the ten of us right in the middle of the upper area of the venue. It was beautifully set with a fabric tablecloth, tinsel decorations and candles. Half of the table was occupied by our chairman's employees because they had finished their holiday luncheon nearby and had walked him, in his aviator costume, down to Carnegie's. Where they decided to stay for a few more. And then a few more after that. 

We sat down to eat an hour later than planned, to a full British style meal of delicious tomato cream soup, turkey, roasted parsnips and carrots, potatoes, brussel sprouts, cranberry sauce, and some sausage and stuffing tidbits. All around us, patrons were dancing and merry making..and someone reached over and stole my bacon wrapped sausage. Well, what did I expect, waving bacon in front of a bar full of happy hour celebrants?

All of the food was demolished, with the exception of the brussel sprouts. They were undercooked and hard to chew. SB placed one into his mouth and I saw him out of the corner of my eye as he gagged. We had a few tense seconds as I desperately passed him a tissue out of my bag and then he hurked out the offending sprout. I don't think that hurk is a word but it perfectly describes the sound and action that he made as he cleared out the bitter and crunchy vegetable. I knew that it was too much to ask that we could enjoy a few meals without him heaving up his vegetables.

By the end of the meal several of the club's players had found us and they helped us to eat our pudding and custard, and then empty the wine.  Then it was on to the dance floor. I love Christmas in Hong Kong.

Friday, December 13, 2013

It ain't over when she sings

I attended a contractor's Christmas dinner tonight. It was the first time that I had accepted such an invitation. The celebration was very much like a massive Chinese wedding, and I consider typical Chinese weddings to be grand scale events.

There were a lot of speeches. After every course several people at the table commented about how the food was so much better than last year. The food last year must have been spectacularly bad to have been mentioned repeatedly. This year's fare was okay; not bad and not especially memorable.

What was memorable was the entertainment. The company hired a bonafide local celebrity and a supposedly up and coming singer to belt out a few cantopop hits. The celebrity isn't famous for his singing and he wasn't great but he was very charming and the crowd loved him. The actual singer was even worse, as in karaoke bar at 3am bad. She shrieked her obligatory three songs and then went launched into a self promotional speech that went on and on. Just when I thought it was over, she began another song. I didn't recall anyone asking for the encore.

She was sexy, though. Furry minidress with high heeled, furry boots. It was almost worth listening to her to catch a glimpse of her little, furry hips sashaying across the stage. Almost.

Monday, December 9, 2013

taking a peek

One of my favorite things to do on Facebook is to look at the backgrounds of pictures that people post.  I enjoy what the pictures tell me about how other people live. I look beyond the subject matter, often pets or children, and try to peek into homes and yards. I like seeing how my friends decorate their living rooms or what staples are kept out in the kitchens. I take great delight in seeing what people frame on their walls. Yes, I am nosy but I won't apologize because I'm a designer so I will claim that it's in everyone's best interest that I pay attention to what people value.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

how to become useless

I've gotten myself into a bit of a pickle, but what else would I expect with my big, fat mouth?  I have a friend who is applying for a job at another friend's office and I have been asked to introduce them. In fact, I feel obliged to make the introductions because the applicant is trying to leave his current job in part due to my aforementioned big, fat mouth.  

I told him to leave.  Actually I told him to "get out now." In the past year he has been practically always stressed out with the job. He used to try to change workplace dis-function but eventually he realized the futility of it all.  His company only seems to care about profit and don't seem too concerned about the revolving door of employees, which is all but guaranteed when you under staff and overwork your employees. workers. There were too many similarities to my old job for me to keep my trap shut: the attitude of 'I was once an abused underling so now it's your turn to pay your dues', the boss showing the employee time cards on PowerPoint at the productivity monthly meetings with different color highlights to indicate how much overtime everyone worked as though over sixty hours per week was a badge of honor, the 'advice' that management frowns on people who don't volunteer to come in on weekends, the employee appraisals that seem to only focus on negative aspects of performance (how many minutes after 8:30am did you arrive to work even though there is no appraisal category for how many hours you worked the night before), etc.

After three years of that management style I was so bitter that it was a fortunate thing that I decided to take a few months off to decompress because had I tried to interview for a new job, I probably would have come off as mentally unstable.  Because I probably was mentally unstable.

My friend is no longer making sense. He displays a strange approach to problem solving, which is to let the problem fester while it is low on the radar until it becomes a major problem, at which point normal options are taken away. Case in point: his sink was draining very slowly. I pointed this out to him when I was over for a visit. A few weeks later I was rinsing my hands and noticed that the drain was barely working. Have you called anyone to fix it or called your landlord, I asked him. No, the landlord probably wouldn't care. He had no reason for why he thought that the landlord wouldn't care since he rarely speaks to the landlord, so I can only conclude that the attitude at his workplace has carried over to how he believes other people operate. He would use his sink in the morning, filling it up, then go to work. By the time he came home it would have drained. Except last week it didn't drain fast enough and the water escaped down the side of his pipes and somehow made it into his neighbor's ceiling. Now the landlord is involved and has to pay for the neighbor's ceiling along with fixing the drain. 

And I am introducing this guy for a job. He needs to leave his current situation but I'm not sure that he is fit for working in a 'normal' company right now. At least by observing him I have gained insight into how so many people in upper management are useless. If he stays in his current job, he will follow that path. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

thanks for your support

Yesterday at our top division's men's team, we saw our fly half chip kick past a defender, gather up his kick, and then side step the last defender to score a try.  It was a beautiful thing.

SB voiced his approval by yelling, "Nick, you'd better get the coach to sub you off right now!  You'll never play better than that!" His statement was followed by a chorus of other players shouting for Nick to retire immediately.

And that, my friends, is how rugby players support each other.