Wednesday, April 29, 2009
( 12:03 AM ) teahouse
Resting in Peace
Over the weekend, my grandmother passed away.
Even though she was far away in Asia, and kind of out of it for the last year of her life, and in the hospital, and even though I rarely saw her and we weren't that close, I'm very sad.
My grandmother had a tough life. She was beautiful - I mean, movie star beautiful. And sweet.
But she had the misfortune to be born to poor rural farmers who desperately needed a son. So her parents gave her up for adoption.
Her adoptive parents were mean to her. They made her work very hard on their farm and didn't let her go to school.
My mom tells the story of how they were such mean and stingy people, that even the pigs they raised almost starved to death.
"Look at how skinny their pigs are!" the neighbors would say, to prove the point that these people were meaner than second skimmings.
When she was in her early 20s, my grandmother met my grandfather, who was from a rich family. He chased her even though he was already married with kids.
My grandmother got pregnant. My grandfather told her if she had a boy, he'd leave his wife for her.
My grandmother had my mom. He stayed with his wife.
My mom grew up really poor. My grandmother would sew shirts for my mom for school uniforms, out of sacks in which flour and rice were given to them from the United States government aid programs.
My grandmother worked hard - she cleaned houses and did laundry for rich ladies.
She never learned to read, but she was very proud of my mom when my mom went to college - a feat unheard of in that time and place.
To the end, my grandmother loved shopping and makeup and beautiful clothes. And she was vain. But who could blame her? She was beautiful and charming. Perhaps she could have been a movie star or model or ambassador or doctor or teacher, had life dealt her a better hand.
Wherever her soul is now, I am thinking of her and offering this, my tribute to her life. #
Friday, April 24, 2009
( 1:05 AM ) teahouse
There's No Place Like Home
Sometimes when it's late at night and I can't sleep, I like to engage in one of my favorite, and strangest, past-times.
I like to read my travel guidebook about the United States.
It's fun to read travel tips for foreigners visiting my country. They always make me smile!
Among the more entertaining passages:
Americans consider it improper to discuss politics and religion with strangers. Also, avoid asking an American (adult) how old he or she is, or what his or her salary is, as this is considered very rude.
American highways are dangerous. Avoid letting your children go to the bathroom alone at highway rest areas, and try to avoid them at night. Hitchhiking is a serious risk. Most Americans do not hitchhike, and drivers are reluctant to pick up hitchhikers. In rural areas, traffic is sparse and you could get stranded.
American Bed and Breakfasts aren't the casual, cheap accommodations available in Europe. Many B&Bs are operated out of old family homes and provide a romantic atmosphere with an elaborate breakfast and handsome furnishings, for a steep price. This is generally not appealing to families with children.
Many businesses in the USA give discounts to people who are age 65 or older. Sometimes, this rate (known as the "senior citizen rate") is available to people as young as 50 or 55. All you need is identification showing proof of age.
Beware that all American paper currency is the same size and same color, so make sure you check the denominations before inadvertently handing over a $100 bill for a newspaper!
The United States Postal Service is reliable and cheap, although Americans like to complain about it.
Drinking and driving is a serious offense in the USA, and the police enforce it zealously. Even just two drinks can make you legally too intoxicated to drive. Also avoid using a mobile phone while you drive, as several states have banned it.
The USA has among the finest health care in the world. Unfortunately, unless you have good health insurance, it is shockingly expensive. You may find that many medications available over the counter at home require a prescription in the USA.
Smoking has not permeated American culture to the extent it has in some other parts of the world. Many cities have banned smoking in bars and restaurants, and Americans will not think twice about voicing their displeasure at smokers (even outdoors), either through exaggerated coughing or dirty looks. Never assume that it is acceptable to smoke in places of business or people's homes.
There are varieties of venomous snakes in the USA, but unlike in some countries, there are none that cause instantaneous death. If bitten, stay calm and get medical attention as soon as possible.
Tipping is a uniquely American wealth-distribution custom. You should tip 15-20% for sit-down meals and taxi rides. In bars, it is customary to leave $1 per drink for the bartender. It is not unusual to see a row of beer bottles on a bartop next to a pile of bills as customers buy several rounds of drinks.
If you're a woman traveling to New York City alone, stay in Chelsea, a predominantly gay male neighborhood, to avoid unwanted advances.
I hope everyone enjoys their trip!#
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
( 9:05 AM ) teahouse
My Firm has made some new technology available to us attorneys.
We can upgrade our old handheld devices to either the new Apple iPhone or the new Blackberry Storm.
Both are sleek, small, touch-screen and have fancy features like internet access.
But I've decided to go with neither, and to stick with my old clunker Blackberry.
Why? My Blackberry has games on it that I'm addicted to playing during my morning commute!
Yeah, yeah, I'm a Luddite. I still listen to my Sony Discman!
Laugh all you want; everyone else does... #
Thursday, April 16, 2009
( 12:03 AM ) teahouse
Due to a fortuitous office location, I was able to witness the installation of New York City's new Archbishop today.
He seems like a genial, approachable figure. And he brings new blood and a fresh perspective to the office of Archbishop.
There was a big crowd, and lots of palpable excitement in Midtown as the procession of priests went down Fifth Avenue toward St. Patrick's Cathedral.
It was raining and drizzly in the early afternoon, but by the end of the ceremony, the sun had come out and the birds were chirping, and it felt like spring had finally arrived. #
Sunday, April 12, 2009
( 9:58 PM ) teahouse
Hope everyone had a happy Easter!
I sure did. The Sister and I dyed Easter eggs, for the first time since childhood. See, here they are:
We got the Paas Tie Dye Easter egg kit. Aren't they all cool and psychedelic?
I just went to the Paas website and realized that they have about ONE HUNDRED different types of kits.
Which prompts this tirade from this old woman who hasn't dyed Easter eggs since the late 1980s..
When I was a kid, we didn't have Chalked up and Sand Blast and Flower Power and Stencil and Glitter Easter Egg dying kits!! We got one package with 3 tablets - red, blue and yellow!
There wasn't green, or purple, or fuchsia or orange or any of these other new-fangled colors they make for the kids now! If we wanted green or purple or orange, we learned what colors to put together to make them! And if we dumped all three colors together we got an egg that was a freaky gray color! And all of our friends laughed at us!
And we got the stuff all over our fingers! We had to put vinegar in the cup, and wait 10 minutes for the color to set. There was no fast-acting tablet that gave you instant results. If you didn't wait long enough, the stuff got all over your fingers and your mom yelled at you for staining the dining room table! Those crazy kids today don't know how good they have it..
And that's the way it was! And we liked it!
One thing didn't change from childhood, though. We peeled the eggs tonight after dying them, and we sure had some freaky stained-looking deviled eggs for dinner.#
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
( 11:10 PM ) teahouse
A Touch of Home
Today I was at a drugstore in my neighborhood buying shampoo.
The salesgirl was extremely perky and friendly. When I checked out, she started making conversation with me.
She had a very unusual accent. I had a hunch, and asked her where she was from.
Turned out she was from my home state!
"I knew it!" I exclaimed. "I can always tell when people are from where I'm from!"
I'm from a particular part of the Deep South. It's always fun to run into people from there up here in New York City.
The last time I ran into someone from my home state, I was on a flight from DC to New York, and the flight attendant turned out to be not only from my state, but also from my hometown. Plus, we went to the same high school!
He was so thrilled he gave me 2 extra bags of peanuts and unlimited drinks for the duration of the flight.
So yes, it pays to be from my state, and to have that accent.
I like to tell people that our state flower is the Teahouse Blossom! #
Monday, April 06, 2009
( 12:13 AM ) teahouse
As many of my readers know, I've struggled with insomnia for many years.
One night last week, I couldn't sleep at all. I was up until 7 a.m.!
This weekend, an acquaintance who heard about my problem suggested I try melatonin.
Has anyone out there tried it? Apparently it's really great because it's all natural; it's the hormone that our bodies produce naturally that makes us sleepy.
This past weekend, I took my first melatonin tablet.
And it WORKED! I felt drowsy within 20 minutes.
Not drug-induced drowsy, like the sedatives my doctor prescribed make me feel.
But a good sleepy you feel after a long, hot bubble bath or a good glass of wine. When there's not a care in the world, or a single molecule of stress in your body, you get into bed and feel all wrapped up and comfy and warm, and slowly drift off to sleep.
So I went to bed happy and relaxed, and floated away on a cloud.
My last thought before unconsciousness was, "This is great. Over the counter is much better than prescription drugs from the doctor..."
I had the FREAKIEST NIGHTMARES of my life.
I had about 20 dreams in rapid succession. And man, they were WEIRD.
I was flying, and then I was riding an elephant, and my kindergarten teacher was on the elephant behind me, decked out like a Maharajah while the Husband yelled from the top of a nearby mountain, "These aren't the droids you're looking for!"
Then I was doing backflips across a desert while hyenas laughed, and their spots turned into stars that shot across the sky.
Then I was taking the SAT but I was running out of time, and trying to fill in the bubbles on the form with a feather quill pen, but then my heart was racing and I was transported into Pride and Prejudice where I became Elizabeth Bennet, but gosh, it was so hot and sweaty in Meryton!
So I threw off the covers and my heart was racing, and the Swiffer wouldn't get that darn spot out of the floor in the corner by the tv. And then the elephant came and sat on my car and crushed the roof over me, and I couldn't breathe.
And then a scary clown was chasing me through the halls of Hogwarts, shouting, "Deal or No Deal?" But I had to get to the East Side for the closing, which was scheduled to start at 3 p.m. But I ran and ran, and just got more and more tired but I couldn't seem to find Lexingon Avenue.
I woke up in a cold sweat, my heart racing. I felt like I'd just finished running a marathon and consumed too much coffee.
Yeah, forget over the counter! I'm going back to the prescription sedatives. #