Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dongsaeng, you're so pretty

A few weeks ago, when I put labels on my blog posts, I realized that I mentioned and talked about SHINee (pronounced like 'Shiny') quite a bit.

To be honest, I really like these kids:

(1) They have good music.

This was their debut song and it just never gets old.  This is also the SHINee magic dance - it works with almost every pop song the kpop industry releases.  At press, I've probably tried upwards of 50 songs.

(2) They are funny.  (I don't know the source of these quotes; my sister sent them to me a long time ago)

"I know about women. I know that they're not men."
-Shinee: Minho

"Dear future wife, darling. I'm sorry I haven't been a good husband. Let's have children quickly. Or I'll be infertile"
-Shinee: Jonghyun

"It was my first time seeing people with blonde hair overseas. So I was like, 'ah. this is overseas.'"
-Shinee: Taemin

"Don't say random stuff. It makes me do random things."
-Shinee: Onew

"Onew has the confused image, but he is indeed confused."
-Shinee: Jonghyun

"The extent of our appetite is shocking. I won't be surprised if it scares off people"
-Shinee: Jonghyun

"It will be fine if I don't start eating. It's even more difficult to stop eating once I start."
-Shinee: Key
(3) They have survived the horrible haircuts that some stylist convinced them was the greatest thing ever. (The Lucifer concept was the worst. I would like to think this was when they first debuted and 'didn't know any better' but this was just last year)
Taemin: They gave him long, punk rocker hair but it just makes him look like a pretty girl.
Minho: Okay, so Minho doesn't really look that bad.  They can give him the worst haircut in the world and he still looks handsome but that doesn't mean you should.  Does his hair remind anyone else of Spock?
Jonghyun: It's like a lion mane concept.
Key: Words cannot describe how weird this is.  They shaved one quarter of his head and dyed the stubble blonde?
Onew:  He is the oldest but how they made him look like a middle aged man is beyond me.

I watch every video they put out, even the Japanese releases of all the same old songs.  Despite my like for them, I am a little embarrassed to admit, with every new video, I have to ask for help in telling them apart.  I can't seem to keep their faces and names straight.

Recently, though, (my life is boring), I finished watching a TV show with them in it.  I learned that I like Onew more than Key (which was surprising) and that I liked all of them more than Super Junior (shocker).
But the biggest benefit of watching this show is that I think I can now tell Taemin and Onew apart on any video/hairstyle SHINee can throw my direction.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Singin' in Korean

Dear Self,

When you hurriedly chat to your sister, "brb.  RAIN" so that you could go dance in the sudden torrential downpour outside your apartment and you come back sopping wet to find said sister wondering if you were suddenly (and randomly) excited about the Korean pop star, I think it's safe to assume everyone thinks/knows you're crazy.

Dear Kpop,

Do you know what 'supersonic' and 'hypertonic' even mean?  Why put them into a song, then, about taxis?  It makes me want to respond in kind by writing songs with random Korean words that rhyme.  What do you think of 아줌마 가지마 ?  Don't Go, Auntie!  I think it's going to be a great hit.  


Dear Korean Netizens,

I understand the impressiveness of good English from Koreans;  I myself get excited to hear it.  However, if the person speaking English was born and raised in America, don't you think you should be more concerned if they don't speak English well? 


Dear Taiwan,

Now that you've put out a good drama, I simultaneously lay in giddy anticipation of the next episode and in anxious expectation that you'll ruin it all.  In any case, it's a refreshing change from the usual predictable story warmed over a million times and it makes me feel like the fan girl/ drama addict that everyone thinks I am.


Dear William Wei,

Your music is amazing and your English is superb.  I hope you like Americans because I've decided you're marrying my youngest sister whether you (or she) like it or not.  I must have you in the family!

My sister specified once she
wanted a man with guitars.
Check and check.  

Monday, September 26, 2011

More about Living, Less about Surviving

Ford Focus     Virginia     Rain     West Virginia     Only one radio station?     Rain     Maryland     Downpour   Soccer jersey     Sweatshirt     Ragnar T-shirt    Poncho     Mosquitoes    Bug spray   Waiting    Passing out water    Laughing    Engineer-ish    Breathtaking sunset    Sarah   Anna   Marc   one-sided rivalry against the Tutus?     Buffalo Wild Wings     BYU v. Central Florida    The art of being an umpire    Samurai Blue   Soccer   Makoto Hasebe    Of course, who else?   West Virginia   Two radio stations, finally!   Virginia

Kato   Lost    Four 1st Streets, really?     Cemetery    Service project     Clean Up    Brer Rabbit     Bloody forehead? - nope, it's just berry juice     1 scooter     1 toy gun     1 VHS cassette     1 tire rim   1 nature-reclaimed roll of carpet   Lots of bottles and glass     3 tires     1 truck fender     1 toilet     1 80's TV set     an entire treehouse     Bags and bags and bags and bags of random trash     Spudnuts     Long country drive     50 Llama points?!     Avoid the cemetery    Free Union    Won the Animal Game     Lis     Jenny     Hello Baby     Kelly     RS Broadcast     President Carter   Patience   Rhys    Jolene        

Bruises    Bugbites     wishing I was Melanie     Choir Practice     Church     Miso    Life with lots of siblings    Dinner Group    Lindsey    Isa    Super Junior    Shinee     Beast     Makoto Hasebe    (it's a good sign I'm tired when he comes up)

A weekend worth living.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Old(er) Friends

Today I visited a friend in a nursing home.  As I sat at her side, while she talked to everyone around me - she didn't remember me at all - I looked at her and thought about when I first started making friends in nursing homes.

It was back in Neihu, Taiwan.  I met a girl who was a member of the church from the Philippines who worked at a nursing home.  I stopped by one day to check on her but realizing that her workplace was no place to be receiving visitors, I volunteered my services.  Even when the girl returned to her home, I stayed on, one hour every Monday.  I look back now and wonder what those workers must have thought of me - an American girl with elementary school kid Mandarin Chinese visiting nursing home residents?  Most of the residents didn't speak Mandarin - that was actually the first time that I ever officially heard someone speak Hakka - and so often there was little I could do besides smile at them or sit by their side with my hand on their arm, to let them know that I was there and that I cared about them.  Oh, and sing to them.

As a missionary, I always had a hymnal on me.  However, since this was Taiwan, most of the residents were not Christian or familiar with anything Christian.  I would sing to them the non-traditional songs in hopes they would just think I was singing a nice song.  (I always avoided Israel, Israel, God is Calling though; according to my native colleague, that tune was the same as a traditional Taiwanese funeral song)

I also knew one Chinese folk song, Mo Lia Hua (茉莉花) or Jasmine Flower, that I had learned in middle school.  I couldn't remember all the words when I first started singing that to the residents - I would start it up and they would chime in and sing the entire song with me.  And then I'd get quiet on the few lines I couldn't remember and try to mimic what they were saying.  To this day, I'm still not sure that I got it right.  (I just looked it up -- I was off on one word.)  People told me later that this song has come to express anti-war sentiment so I always wondered what those residents thought of me singing that song.  No one complained, though.  Everyone stopped what they were doing and listened.  Many smiled.  Some sang along. 

After the singing, I would go around  to the residents who could speak Mandarin and chat with them for a few minutes.  To the residents who only spoke Taiwanese, I would attempt a few butchered sentences.  To the residents who only spoke Hakka, I would just smile and pat their arm.  One resident was deaf and so I used my extremely limited vocabulary in Chinese Sign Language to ask her about her family and how she was doing.  It wasn't until years later that I realized she might have gone deaf later in life so she possibly never learned how to communicate in Chinese Sign Language.  But since I couldn't write in characters, hand waving and smiling seemed to be the only way to talk with her.

I did become fairly good friends with a few of the residents.  One of the women insisted that my colleague and I take a picture with her and her friend.  We did so - I still have that picture of us.  A few weeks later, we returned and she was tickled pink over something.  We asked her about it.  "Oh, my son visited me yesterday and saw the picture of us.  He asked, 'Ma, who are these people?' I told him, 'Those are my American friends.' He was jealous then, 'Ma, you sit in this nursing home all day and yet you have more American friends than I do - how did you ever meet them?'"  Her response to that was cheeky: "They come to visit me, speaking of which you could stand to come by more often.  Come by sometime on a Monday and I'll introduce you."  

It was the beginning of a new habit.  Even if I don't remember them - even if they don't remember me.  It means so much to them to have someone to visit.  It means so very much to me. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Nothing Gets Past Me

Today, my friend came over to help me plan and execute a trivia game.  She walked in to watch me attached to my computer screen, going through trivia questions while putting cake batter into cupcake pans.

Our conversation went something like this:

Friend: What are you listening to?
Me: The radio broadcast of Wolfsburg's game in German.  Do I understand German?  No.  Do I understand when they're talking about Hasebe?  Yes.  Do I understand what they're saying about Hasebe?  No.  

She looked from me to the computer with a screen full of Bundesliga and back again.  And then she laughed.

We hurriedly pulled together the activity as I sadly listened to and watched (via liveticker) my dear Wolves lose the game to 1899 Hoffenheim.

I returned hours later to see this...

"1:3 in Hoffenheim / Rot für Marwin Hitz"

What does 'rot' mean, I asked my roommates?  I google translated it: 'red'.  Marwin Hitz got a red card?!

And then I saw this:

 Source: Vfl Wolfsburg Seite
Is that what I think it is?!  Makoto wearing a goalie jersey and goalie gloves?!

Um.... I listened to that entire game!  I watched all of the updates!  How did I miss the red card?  How did I miss that Hasebe became a goalie? 

I'm still in disbelief and laughing over the crazy turn of events. 

I really really need to learn German. 


Dear Hasebe-san,

I'm sorry that you conceded a goal in your debut as a professional soccer goalie.  Here's hoping, though, that you went home and had a good laugh about how life turns out in ways that we never anticipate.  It's one grand adventure after another.

Source:, AFP Photo/Daniel Roland

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Can Google translate Missionary-ish?

While running my experiment today (yes! it actually ran!) I started reading old missionary emails from years ago. It was a nice trip down memory lane but I found myself laughing at the phrases I used.  No wonder people think return missionaries are just weird.

I made the bad mistake of asking this very single Taiwanese version of Heath Ledger where he was going. (I think a lot of guys here take it as a pick-up line rather than a lead into a Gospel discussion) Really? No kidding! If some random person came up to me and asked me where I was going, I would probably be just as confused.

On Saturday we followed up with a very sad girl who doesn't want to get married and has problems sleeping. I'm not sure how I ever found these details relevant or important. 

I found out that our dear 101 year old member was personal bodyguard to Chiang Kai Shek and came over with him on the boat. I love how I referenced 'the boat' as though it was some common well known fact how Chiang Kai Shek came to Taiwan. I'm sure my family was thoroughly confused.

This morning we went to the astronomical museum. It was a fun experience hanging out with my district. We couldn't read much on the signs explaining things so we just went from exhibit to exhibit pressing every button and doing every hands-on activity that we could. It was really fun and reminded me that before my mission, I had had a great desire to be involved in space technology. I guess NASA landed on Mars a little while back? The rumors you here in the mission field are always so old anyway that it's hilarious. I love that I referred to my love of NASA as some very distant and mythical 'once upon a time' thing. Did I really forget that much about my previous life as a normal human?

Ever since I got back from Shilin, we've been getting fanged lots. Fanged? It actually is Chinglish for "stood up" from "fang gezi" in Chinese. But I'm sure it sounds horrible to those not in the know.

With three people in our baptismal pool, we were thrilled and even found a fourth person who is contemplating getting baptized also. My sister's response to this email is probably the best: 3 people in the baptismal pool at once???????? do they just sit around waiting for something to happen? chinese people are weird.... ----I'm still laughing over this. For those still confused, here is my mother's explanation: The baptismal pool is the group of investigators that they feel are headed for baptism. They don't all get to sit in the font at the same time - though that might be interesting.

We went to COSTCO today. I didn't have any money so I didn't buy anything. I had thought that if I found something that I really really really couldn't live without and if it wasn't more than a few hundred dollars, I could buy it but nothing really jumped out at me. Aren't you proud of me? I'm sure I gave my parents a heart attack with the flippant way I managed my money. What could I ever want from Costco, food-wise, that was a few hundred dollars? Especially since I claimed that I was poor? Too bad I never bothered to explain that I was thinking in terms of Taiwanese dollars. A few hundred dollars would be the equivalent of 10 USD.

Slip of the Tongue

Me: Oh hey, it's Wasbash.  Didn't we need to turn on Wabash?  Wait, no, we need to turn on Madison.
Sister: You mean Monroe?
Me: Whatever.  They're all Presidents...except for Wabash.

Lady: What's your major?
Me: Umm...well.  I'm actually a PhD student, getting my degree in Aerospace Engineering.
Lady: What year are you in?  
Me: I'm in my sixth year.
Lady: <looking at me like I'm an idiot> PhDs only take 3-4 years.
Me:  Well, some of us take a little longer.  

Inspector: There's a Laser sign on the door.  We can't get in there.
Me: No it's ok.  You can just knock; oops, wrong Japanese person --  Toshi will let you in. 

 Me, talking to my sister: Alexis must think I am so annoying right now.  
Grandma, talking to someone else: Yes, yes, she really does.  
USPS Man: What kind of stamps do you want?
Me: Not Forever stamps please! 
USPS Man: They're all Forever stamps.  
Me: Oh, well, ones that have cool pictures on them.
<We look through the binder of different stamps>
Me: I'd like a sheet of the scientists.
USPS Man: Here you go.
<I look over the scientists>
Me: Wow, I feel like an idiot.  I'm a scientist and I've never heard of any of these people.
USPS Man: Well, just don't aspire to get on a stamp yourself...
Me: Really?
USPS Man: ...Because that would mean you were dead.  
Me: Oh, don't worry.  I have no such goals in life.  

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Iodine Wars

My dearest most wonderful lab,

As you may have noticed, I've been running experiments multiple times a week now for the past three weeks.  Your efficient pumps work.  Your beautiful laser behaves just as it should.  Your liquid nitrogen continues to impress me with its ability to not run out.  And the nitrogen is doing a fabulous job of stabilizing and not running out before I'm ready for it to be done.  Really, you are about as perfect a lab as I could hope for.  There is only one thing missing - one tiny little detail that I want to see more than anything at this point::: Iodine!

It's doing just fine in the main jet;  I'm getting the prettiest pictures of the bow shock and barrel shock interaction.

Now what about that other jet?  Don't you want to adequately seed and exhibit iodine in the transverse jet too?

Be a gem of a lab and help a desperate graduate student out.


The Way the Universe Bends

Real conversation yesterday with a friend:

I was walking and talking about how I don't really have a connection to Asia.  I'm not Asian.  I don't really keep up with people in Asia nor do I have any work-related ties there.

Friend: <trying to negate my comment> You saying that you don't have a connection to Asia is like saying there is no such thing as gravity.
Me: <staring at him in shock>  Gravity doesn't exist!  You know that!

I start laughing that he would dare use that argument with me.  He and I started laughing at his mistake.

Other friend: Wait!  What?  Why are you two laughing?  What is this about gravity not existing?

We explain to her how on Earth, for all intents and purposes, gravity does exist.  Newton's laws work and life is great. However, it isn't the entire picture.  "Gravity" is actually the phenomenon that we see due to the bends of the universe.

Friend: Well, this theory works better.  Perhaps in the reality of it, you don't have any reason to be connected to Asia.  However, the phenomenon is there just the same as this <he takes out a notebook and tosses it away from him where it falls to the ground>

Asia and gravity explained in a nutshell.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The American Palate

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!  While at a Pronunciation Workshop today, I was talking with a Chinese woman who was telling me how very sweet American food was and comparing it to Chinese food.  I don't know why I haven't just become accustomed to it but every time people go on and on about how greasy and unhealthy American food is and how sweet everything is, I just look at them in shock, "You are in America!  You still think all we eat are hamburgers and chocolate chip cookies?"  (This girl mentioned bacon - I told her I only eat it a few times a year and she asked if I was vegetarian)

However, when asked to describe what Americans eat on a normal basis, I'm at a loss.  Where do we even begin to explain the wealth of variety that Americans eat?

Recently, my oldest sister came for a visit from Paris.  She's been gone for about 4 months, enough time to miss and crave American food.  Surely, this would be a good description of what constitutes as good American fare right?

The other day, over lunch, I asked her what foods she had been craving and eating while she had the chance.  This is her not-entirely-comprehensive-but-pretty-close-list:

(1) Chef Boyardee Lasagna from a can
(2) Spagetti-Os
(3) Cheerwine
(4) Double stuffed Reese's Cup (I'd never heard of this before)
(5) Mello Yello
(6) Macaroni and Cheese

Are you kidding me?! I looked at her and then at my other sister who just nodded, "Yeah, she really did eat all those things."

And what was still on her list to eat?
a Corn dog.

She kept insisting that she needed to go find and eat a corn dog.  Meanwhile, my other sister and I shook our heads in disbelief.  "You never ate corn dogs when you lived here before - why get one now?"

I can just see her returning to France and telling her friends about eating these great American meals.  I can just hear beautiful French being shared in the conversation until we get to the ever blase, "Corn dog."  (Then again, maybe the French can make corn dog sound exotic - we can only hope)

But I guess, after all, when you're craving a corn dog, only a corn dog will do.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Lousy Wednesday/Sweet Thursday

I've always relied on Steinbeck to make it through a week.  Sadly, my day has started out as anything but...

As a result, I'm going to share some things that make me smile.  These are not things that bring me genuine joy. They're pretty mindless.  However, my thoughts are driving me crazy so mind-numbing can be a good thing.  We're in survival mode.

(1) Samurai Blue funny soccer pictures (all pictures from Tumblr)
I'm not sure if Makoto is trying to wash his hair or check
for lice.  But he's pretty excited about it.  
Random assortment of arms, legs and bodies with Atsuto
just sitting happily on top.  
Umm... Havenaar-san, you have three arms.  
Hugging it out always works best.
(2) Peppy Kpop music: Again, no promises for much depth

I have no idea what a Bling Girl is supposed to mean in this context but it's a happy song.

I love that the Korean  "Why"  in English is transliterated as "Wait Yo!"  Somehow those two very similar sounding sounds have wildly different meanings.  And yet ZE.A seems completely happy with this inconsistency.

It turns out these 15 seconds are the best 15 seconds of the entire song.  I love the dance step starting at 0:09.  My sister thinks it's unimpressive but it reminds me of my dreams of tap dancing so I watch it over and over and over.  And also, put any other man in a sleeveless button up and a weird bejeweled vest and I'd think, "What were you thinking?!" but looking at it, I just think, "Oh hey, it's Yunho!"  IGA VP all the way.

Jonghyun and Minhyuk.  I adore these kids.

(3) Puddle Jumping.  With all the rain lately, it's been nice to go outside and jump around in the puddles.  Childish?  Maybe.  Satisfying?  Absolutely!

Hold on, 黎姐妹.  You'll make it yet.

Here's hoping that all of you have a sweet(er) Thursday.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Field of Dreams

When I first returned to BYU after my mission in 2005, I desperately found the first job that accepted me.  I remember that exact moment when I made a phone call from the library telephone to a man who would later be my supervisor and told him that I had experience working as a custodian and needed the work.  I didn't even bother looking at the job location - its hours and wages were sufficient for me.

That is how I found myself the sole evening caretaker of the BYU Miller Park clubhouse.  I guess that just goes to show you how I can bought with a price.  Clean a dirty, smelly locker room?  Clean the men's shower and bathrooms?  Scrub the red clay out of the carpet?  Not a problem as long as I was ensured BYU minimum wage and making enough to pay my meager rent and food bills.

Honestly, though, I loved the work.  Not only was it fabulous to spend my evenings after cramming information in my brain to doing something that required little brain power and only elbow grease.  I would tote a CD player around with me and play music.  (Fresh off the mission, I only owned 3 CD's - the musical Secret Garden's Original Cast soundtrack, Vocalpoint's Standing Room Only CD, and Dvorak's New World Symphony)  And...

I got a fabulous glimpse into the internal world of BYU baseball...

(1) One of my first weeks on the job, I accidentally walked in while a baseball player was still clearing out for the day.  There I was, with vacuum and cleaning cart in tow, looking as awkward, I'm sure, as I felt.  The baseball player and I locked eyes for a second before I apologized and started backing (as best I could) towards the door.  Meanwhile, this baseball player immediately apologized himself, "I'm so sorry," and then he grabbed his practice jersey and folded it carefully before placing it in his locker space.  I never saw him again - his last name read Romney - but his clothes were always carefully folded or hung up and his shoes always were lined up and out of the way of any vacuum's path.  Every day after that, I would look at his locker and send up three "Hip Hip Hoorays" for a mother who taught her son to clean up after himself.  

(2) Another time I accidentally ran into a baseball player who was waiting around for his date to show up at the ballpark.  Again, the same deal.  I awkwardly apologized and backed away.  Instead, he started in, "Thank you so much for all you do for us."  I looked at him, more than embarrassed.  After all, I was paid to do what I did.  He continued, "I have a few minutes now.  I'm just waiting for someone.  Can I help you in any way?"  I looked at this baseball player in disbelief.  Are you kidding me?  Are you for real?  What happened to the stereotype about athletes and their big heads?  He reached out his hand, "I'm Patrick, by the way."  I shook his hand possibly remembered to mumble out my name.  Whenever I saw him again, he always smiled like we were best friends from birth and waved and called out a 'hello'.

Note: Before you start to think that I just walked in on players every day, I didn't get to work until long after their practices.  And I always made sure to yell, "Ollie Ollie Oxen Free!"  or something along those lines before I just barged in.

(3) There was only one time I actually walked in on someone who was less than fully dressed.  I had a coworker at this point and I sent him in to see if anyone was inside the room changing and to let me know before I came in a minute later.  I waited outside for him to come back but after a minute (or two) he didn't so I walked in, toting cart and vacuum as per usual.  I walked in to see one of the baseball players sitting at his locker in just a towel and about to change in to clothes.  I looked at my coworker in shock and fled.  He later admitted that he did it on purpose because he wanted to see my face flame up.  I asked him if it did.  He laughed and said I blushed all the way to the roots of my hair.

(4) One time I walked in to the locker room long after I had cleaned it, just to check on something and walked in to find a baseball player and his girlfriend picking up pieces of paper off the ground.  The floor was covered in red paper hearts.  I looked at the mess in shock while the couple separated quickly as though they had been caught and stood awkwardly apart from each other.  We looked at each other for an eternal second before the baseball player spoke up, "Oh, hey.  Well you're the first person to find out - she just said 'yes'.  We're engaged!"  I looked at them and gave my hearty but shocked congratulations before we all jumped down on the ground to continue to pick up the paper red hearts.  And then I left the room as quickly as I'd come to let them continue to celebrate.  I later decided that the locker room proposal was sweet but I did wonder if it had any personal meaning to the girl other than the fact that her boyfriend spent a considerable amount of time there.

(5) I have the greatest of respect for the coaches.  Coach Law became one of my heroes.  I was pretty sure he was the one who helped keep those baseball players in line.  None of them dared enter the carpet area without first knocking the red clay off their cleats in the cement hallway between the outside and the locker room.  (Hey!  This is important to a custodian!)  Not only that, he had a list on his wall of the missionaries from his team who were currently serving with a schedule of writing them letters.  He also had a list on his wall of how to help his current pre-missionaries prepare to serve and a list of objective for his team that included more than just winning.  I had the general feeling that Coach Law was as interested in turning out a team of men as he was in a successful team of baseballers.

(6)  And now we get to my favorite player - Apana Nakayama.  Not only was his name incredibly fun to say but he was a great catcher and hitter.  I loved going to the games and cheering him on.  (I got to the point where I cheered them all on - I knew all their names and positions thanks to cleaning up after them)  But Apana was always one of my favorites.  One day I ran into him in the clubhouse, crutching down the hall with his parents.  In shock, I forgot my usual shyness around the baseball players and asked what had happened.  He smiled and explained that he had hurt his knee and had just completed surgery on his ACL and then he turned it around and said, "How are you doing?  How has your summer been?"  I responded cheerfully enough and wished him the best of luck on his recovery.  (He is actually one of the motivators for writing a blog - I wonder what he's doing now.  I hope he's happy and successful)

After the summer of 2005, I found a new job working as a TA for Instrumentation.  That would also be a highlight job for me.  But I will never really forget the Baseball team of 2005 for making a custodian feel like more than just a maid.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


The past few days, I've been watching some movies that deal with American Asian (Asian American?) issues.  It's been interesting to just sit back and take everything in.  I'm not really putting pieces together at this point.  I'm just listening.  And absorbing.  And feeling.

Everyone has a story to share.  I would like to hear them.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Grandma's Valuables

It was a very unique and interesting experience to watch my grandma sort through her belongings in her move from the best house ever to a townhouse.  All my life, I had moved around her house, intensely curious about most of its possessions, but too timid to just pick them up and ask about them.  Instead, I came up with my own assumptions.

While visiting her, Grandma kept asking, "What do you want?"  I hesitated because the things that meant the most to me were those that meant the most to her - her treasures that I knew she would not part with.  I enjoyed that week though of watching her go through her possessions and tell the story behind each item.

We got to the toothpick holders and Grandma had me choose one out of the number she was ready to give away.  I chose conservatively.  Then she asked me to help pick out a few for siblings.  "Well, Isa's favorite color is orange,"  I admitted slowly.  Grandma smiled at me and then looked carefully at the only orange toothpick holder she owned.  Surprisingly, she picked it up, kissed it and then handed it to me, saying, "I wasn't ready to give this up just yet but oh well.  This is one of my favorites.  Give it to your sister."

I spent most of my time looking through photo albums.  I'd already looked through them hundreds of times.  But this time, I was choosing pictures that I wanted and Grandma was quite liberal with giving us pictures of us when we were younger.  On the more recent albums, Grandma had put in her comments and thoughts next to the pictures.  Next to those pictures of me that I'd rather not remember, my grandma had written, "Beautiful smiles from my beautiful granddaughters."

At one point, Grandma pulled out the plates us kids had made one year.  They were simply done with only a signature from us kids.  Quite laughable really that my Grandma had kept it all these years.  She held them up and we appropriately smiled, as though sharing in on her joke - humor the grandkids and their innocent messes.  (In fact, she had kept everything and anything we had made and given her over the years)
Why did I ever think my grandparents
needed a sand painting of Ancient Egypt?  
I can't stop laughing at my signatures
I took pictures and forgot about them when we went to pull out the old linens and hear all about where they came from.  But then we see my niece going for those plates to bang them against each other so she could hear that delightful noise of plastic on plastic.  Grandma panicked, "Get her away from those!   I don't want her to break them!"  We looked at her in surprise and pulled the plates away from a curious Alexis, "Grandma, they're plastic.  They aren't going to break."

It was about this point that I started to realize what my Grandma valued.  More than the linens from great-great grandparents.  More than the china from her parents and her own wedding.  More than the paintings from her sister.

We - her children, her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren - were her greatest treasures.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

In Denial

Dear Voice,

You haven't been in my life for weeks now.  This is the second time this year.  I'm starting to think something might be wrong. 

I promise I'll get it checked out soon.


Thursday, September 1, 2011


Dear Samurai Blue,

Since I don't speak/read/understand Japanese, it's very easy for me to blissfully run through life, thinking that all is okay in the Japanese soccer world.
A normal day of practice
Source: via Tumblr

"This is my favorite time of year," I thought.  "Now I can really truly catch up on my favorite soccer team."  What with pictures and articles posted every day on the website, it was easy to be in the know.

Except I have that wonderful talent of missing out on extremely important details...

Such, I don't know...the fact that KEISUKE HONDA HURT HIS RIGHT KNEE, HAD TO WITHDRAW FROM THE TOURNAMENT AND FLEW BACK TO FRANCE... all while I happily noted how great the team looked.
At Narita Airport Aug 31

Or...KENGO NAKAMURA BROKE HIS RIGHT BIG TOE... while I daily cheered that he was back on the team.

Then of course there's the fact that MIKE HAVENAAR WAS CALLED UP TO PLAY IN THE TOURNAMENT...while I wondered why there was a picture of him showing up in the Samurai Blue searches.
Practice Sep 1

So while I've been assuming it's been a good uneventful week of practice for tomorrow's game against Korea DPR, it turns out it's been one long roller coaster ride of getting a team ready.
Sep 1 Press Conference
Source: Tumblr

I'm sorry I didn't get the blantant hint before.  It doesn't mean I don't love you.  I was once asked out on a date and didn't realize it was a date until 4 years after the fact.  Does that make you feel any better?

Good luck tomorrow.  I will be cheering for you.