Dim Sum Diaries

Around the world and back...

OK, this is really bad, but I'm posting it anyways because its funny. If you are easily offended, then don't click on the link! The Germans are kommen!

Part of me weeps because now I have resorted to this kind of perverseness to get site traffic. OK not really. ^_^

Thanksgiving Hijinx - Part 2

I was ready to have some fun. The bar we were at was crowded with people who were talking and laughing loudly. We snagged a table and sat down to observe the scene. The place was dimly lit and the air was hazy with smoke. A live band playing in the corner of the room was mangling what I thought was Meatloaf’s “I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)”. We had to yell in order to hear each other.

“This place is a dive!” Des declared loudly.

“Yeah, a dive that serves sweet beer! I must try one!” I insisted. I was on a mission.

Des rolled her eyes but I ignored her. I was about to discover the tasty goodness that was sweet beer. If it was to be experienced in a dive, then so be it. I grabbed the menu. As I skimmed it, disappointment seeped in. Sweet Beer, as I discovered, was actually secret code for, “Hah hah, you suck because you bought into the sweet beer myth, sweet beer actually means micro-brews!”

“F**king beer,” I muttered under my breath.

“What was that?” Des yelled over the din.

“I said I’m happy to be here!” I yelled back.

Micro-brew selections included offerings such as chocolate-chip beer, oatmeal beer and pumpkin beer. I decided to order a sampler, which consisted of eight different shots of beer. Des ordered a merlot. When the harried waitress brought us our order, I studied each one carefully. I pointed one out to Des. “That one has rabbit shit in it!” I told her.

“No, those are chocolate chips,” Des explained.

The sweet beer fiasco only fueled my determination to finish all the shots, which I did in record time. Des merely sipped her drink. Things started to get a little fuzzy after that. All I knew was that the beer, aside from the rabbit pellets, did not in fact taste like chocolate chip, oatmeal or pumpkin. I was so disappointed. And drunk. I laid my head down on the table. Now the band was playing a horrible rendition of “Two Princes.” Des sighed and decided we should go home, because I was in no condition to do anything else. We paid our tab and left, Des practically lugging me every step of the way.

“God you are such a cheap date,” she snorted.

“I know and if you were a guy you could totally have your way with me now!” I crowed, laughing drunkenly.

“Yeah, my loss,” she said sarcastically.

According to Des, we did get home safely, but I spent a good part of the night worshipping at the porcelain throne.

Note to Self: Don’t get drunk again on an empty stomach.
This is George Bush's horoscope for Fri Mar. 21, 2003 (by Astrocenter.com )

You may find that people aren't necessarily being very sympathetic to your feelings today, dear Cancer. It is quite possible that they are more responsive to facts and information than to emotions. It could be that you need to enlist some sort of translator in order to get through to a person with whom you are trying to communicate. Don't hesitate to ask for more clarification on something if you need it.
This guy really likes monorails. So much that he built one in his backyard!!

(from so graham norton)
It was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Holiday muzak blared while grumpy holiday travelers like me sat in the airport lounge waiting to board their plane. I planned to spend the Thanksgiving weekend with my best friend in Boston. There was only another month to go before my internship and the studies program ended, and I was ready for some serious R&R. I stuck my nose in a romance, determined to ignore the chaos.

An announcement over the loudspeaker caught my attention. “If anyone is willing to forego this flight, we will give you a voucher for a flight tomorrow morning to anywhere in the United States,” the ticket agent said. Boy I was tempted. I could fly back to California to see my boyfriend and family. No cold, crappy weather. My mommy would do my laundry for me. But Des was expecting me and I had never been to Boston before. I would just have to suck it up for another month before going back to CA. I eventually boarded and endured an uneventful flight. Des met me at the gate and we squealed happily as we hugged each other and jumped around. “You look great!” she enthused. “So do you!” I said. We had been best friends since grade school. Now she went to Harvard and I only got to see her once a year. We took the T (Boston’s subway system, which would never measure up to the Metro, I thought snarkily) back to Cambridge.

We walked through Harvard Yard on our way to her dorm. Pathways crisscrossed the Yard amidst the slender trees. The Yard itself was surrounded by a group of red-hued buildings. Students were hurrying to and fro while the evening twilight advanced. “Behold Dunster, beacon of truth and light,” Des intoned solemnly as we approached her dorm. I raised my eyebrow at her. “What in the hell are you talking about?” I asked. “Dunster is the name of my house (aka dorm),” she explained, “I always say that when I approach its greatness.” I suppose it could have been great, in a Des-ian sort of way. I patted Des on the head. “Whatever you say, dear.” I told her.

She led me up to her room and I could only gasp in wonder as I stepped inside. I was used to dorms being a grey 8x10 sardine can with four people packed in. Her dorm room was actually a suite! Des and her roommate each had their own bedroom. There was a common living area with a functional fireplace. Wow. The room had been tastefully decorated, with Monet prints gracing the walls. It was very homey. Des handed me a Boston guidebook. “What do you want to do?” she asked.

As I leafed through the pages, I noted the Aquarium with interest. There was also a mention of sweet beer that several restaurants served. A beer that was sweet? I was intrigued.

“Sweet Beer!” I declared, “I must investigate this phenomenon!”

Des rolled her eyes at me. “It figures,” she said laughingly.

We started to get ready. “How are we dressing tonight?” she asked. I reached into my luggage and pulled out the black leather pants I had purchased just for this trip. I grinned evilly as I showed it to her.

“So, we’re going slut-puppy tonight?” she said.

“No, its man killer! There is a difference, you know!” I sneered.

“Yeah, whatever,” she said.

We got dressed in record time. As we left her dorm, Des called out, “Dunster, beacon of truth and light!” I wondered if she was going to break into a show tune at any moment. I sighed. This was going to be an interesting evening.

~ To be continued…
I have a friend I'll call Dan. Dan is a reservist in the army and did his duty going to the Persian Gulf. Like many others in the military, Dan has a wife and family. If he were not in Iraq, he would go to work every day as a school principal. He pays his bills, he feeds his dogs, he helps carry the groceries from the car after his wife returns from the market. He kisses his wife good night before they both go to bed. He pays his taxes and loves his country. He could be your neighbor or mine. He defends the principles of freedom and justice. He and every other soldier are the ones who stand upon a wall and say, "Nothing's going to hurt you tonight, not on my watch." Now they have answered the call to duty and are in Iraq fighting "our" war. They are putting their lives at risk because their President said so. However, the number of American and British casualties is increasing, and there are even some Americans that have been captured; possibly tortured. They knew the risks involved in fighting a war, but I wonder how many of these brave men and women would still be safe at home, going about their daily lives if the President hadn't attempted to morally justify the war on Iraq. Are American lives worth less then the President's agenda? Is an Iraqi life more valuable than that of an American soldier? It seems that President Bush feels that it is. I can only pray that our American troops will stay safe and that the POWs will not be harmed. I know that I am not alone in saying that we support our troops. Come back safe, Dan.
OK I deleted that stupid post with the chick with the stupid toilet paper roll on her head. I got so excited because I upgraded my BlogSpot...and I uploaded the first stupid picture I could find. And I am re-designing the u.i. AGAIN! So just bear with me.

OK, I lied, I'm posting before Monday. Just added a new u.i. So what does everyone think?
Jack and I were fast friends. We shared a similar sense of humor and he was fun to be around. I made it a point to hang around with him as much as possible.

"By the way," he said casually one day as we rode the bus together. "I'm gay."

"Cool," I said.

"But don't tell anybody okay," he cautioned.

"As if I would! What do you take me for!" I cried indignantly.

"Could you say that a little louder, I don't think the bus driver heard you," he laughed.

"Dammit...sorry," I muttered.

He and a few other friends were one of the few bright spots in my otherwise dismal experience at the studies program (the internship was still going great). Jack's boyfriend Daniel was a flight attendant with a major airline, and he had an apartment in Virginia. I hung out with Jack and Daniel a lot, anything to get away from my own apartment. The Last Two American Virgins and I were not getting along. Despite the frenetic letter-writing campaign my boyfriend had initiated, the likes of which would never been seen again, I was terribly lonely and homesick. Daniel and Jack were very kind to me at a time when I needed some kindness.

"So, what are you doing this weekend?" Jack asked me. We had just finished dinner. Daniel served his famous banana pudding with a flourish. "Nothing, probably sleeping in," I replied.

"How about coming to church with us?" Daniel proposed.

"What? Are you mad? I get enough bible thumping in class! I don't need it on a Sunday morning," I groused.

"Well, it's a gay church," Jack replied. "I think you might enjoy it."

"All right, why not," I said.

That Sunday I was a little nervous. I had no idea what to expect as I walked in the sanctuary with Daniel and Jack. Two lines of wooden pews dominated the room. The room was quite Spartan except for a carpeted platform in front and three stained glass windows on each side of the room. Same-sex couples of varying sizes and descriptions were seated and chatting quietly amongst themselves. Everyone wore a gold band on their left hand, signifying their relational status. Some people spotted us and raised their voice in greeting. A man walked towards us and immediately engulfed each of us in a bear hug. "Hello and welcome!" he beamed. I was greeted with several more enthusiastic hugs before we were finally seated.

"A lot of them are HIV-positive," Jack explained.

I was dumbfounded. I could only sit there and think stupid thoughts such as, "I hope I don't get HIV from those hugs." Shut up, I told myself fiercely. Stop being an ignorant dope.

The pastor was wheeled up to the pulpit in a wheelchair. Apparently he was in the advanced stages of HIV/AIDS.

"Before we begin, I would like to remember those who have passed away recently," he said. He read through a list of names. After we sang some hymns, he began his sermon. When he was finished, everyone chatted and there were more hugs. I was struck by how everyone was so friendly. They didn’t even know me. Many of them were HIV-positive yet still found the faith and strength to come and worship on Sunday. My cynical heart was touched by their earnestness and cordiality.

"Wow, that was great. I really enjoyed it," I said to Jack.

"I told you so," was all he would say.

He told me later that the pastor had died shortly after. Something in me changed after that day and I feared that I would never be the same again.
I can't tell you how depressing this is to me. I don't support President Bush's stance on Iraq, but I guess its moot at this point. I do support the troops who are valiantly risking their lives. I can only hope that this "war" will be over quickly and with the least amount of casualties.

Vignette Du Jour

In deference to plugging Asian websites, I give you Yatta!. Its a sight you won't forget. You've been warned.
One of the great things about DC is that there is always somewhere to go. Every street has some point of historical interest; every city corner has some niche to explore. You pick your destination, hop onto the Metro and there you are. And so on a cool Saturday evening, a group of us wandered Pennsylvania Avenue, talking and joking amongst ourselves. While enjoying the night air, the lively strains of a Cab Calloway song soon caught our attention. We drifted towards the music and spotted an outdoor band energetically performing big band and swing music. We were in an area opposite the National Archives. A sizeable group of people had gathered around the bandstand. Couples were dancing the jitterbug while tiny white lights twined among the trees glinted merrily.

A man with dark brown hair and a mustache approached me.

"Dance with me," he invited.

I glanced at my girlfriends and they rolled their eyes back at me. Their look said, 'What the hell, go for it.'

"OK," I told the guy and we bobbed around to what we thought was the swing. As soon as the song ended, Mustache put his arm around me. Hmmm, a bit too touchy-feely for me. I disengaged myself from his arm. "Thanks for the dance. See ya," I said over my shoulder as I walked back towards my group. Mustache didn't seem to be deterred. He asked another girl in our group, Brenna, to dance, which she did. We kept an eye on her and when Mustache started to hump her leg, we rescued her. Some of us decided to boogy in our own little circle until the concert was over.

"So," another girlfriend said, "let's hit the bars."

So that's what we did, but I would always fondly remember the night I jitterbugged under the twinkling lights on Constitution Avenue.


Vignette Du Jour

These dancing kitties are very funny and cool. #1 can watch them for hours on end.

I'm starting to work on installment #3 of FB Reflections. This week is my birthday and I'm pretending that it doesn't exist.

Lost In The Wilderness...

The State Department is a huge labyrinth of offices. All of the hallways are stark white and look disconcertingly similar. I spent a half hour every morning for a week meandering around until I located my office. This annoyance aside, everyone in my department was friendly and helpful. I enthusiastically got to work researching and writing fact sheets about our many projects concerning economic reform in the former Soviet Union. When I was on the phone with my boyfriend, I blathered endlessly about how great everything was there. "Oh my god Jeff," I gushed, "the Caesar Salad at the State Department cafeteria is the shit!"

Apart from the internship, I was enlisted in a study program (which was in no way associated with any government institution) run by a coalition of conservative Protestants. They offered classes in foreign and domestic policy with an emphasis on social justice. The premise sounded reasonable enough. I shared a one-bedroom apartment with three other girls from the program. Hopes of a close friendship with my roommates were quickly dashed when two of them recorded our apartment answering machine message as, "Hello, you have reached the home of the last two American virgins..."

In the foreign policy class, Cyndi (the instructor) directed us to write a paper regarding a relevant foreign policy issue. "I want biblical analysis in this essay, people!" she barked emphatically. This essay would be a cakewalk, I thought. All the research I had done at work would come in handy. It was certainly relevant. In fact, my boss had already commented on what a great job I had done writing the fact sheets. I focused on the plight of Kazakhstan, including much of the verbiage from my research. But I still had to incorporate some biblical principles analysis. But there were so many to choose from! I took out my bible and decided that any page I opened at random must surely have something of value...which turned out to be the book of Leviticus. Ah, the Jubilee principle! Essentially my "analysis" was: like the Israelites, Kazakhstan had been going through the wilderness (by not being a democracy). However, if they embraced the biblical principle of Jubilee, that is, social renewal and a turn towards Christianity, they should move successfully towards democratization. I hoped Cyndi wouldn't take my biblical analysis too seriously. The nation of Kazakhstan was 44% Muslim and 43% Russian-Orthodox. What were the chances of the entire nation of Kazakhstan embracing evangelical Christianity in my lifetime?

I turned my essay in. A few days later, my essay was returned with a less then ideal grade. By the jubilee section, Cyndi had scribbled "Excellent!". In the section where I discussed political and economic reform she had written, "Not enough biblical analysis."

"How did you do?" asked my friend Deanna. She was one of the few people I bonded with there.

"Not that great," I said disconsolately. "If my boss at USAID read this, she'd laugh her ass off."

I was angry. Yet the irony of the situation was almost laughable. Superficial judgments couched in religious jargon merited praise whereas serious analysis seemed to be glossed over. Yet Cyndi kept insisting we write our essays as if we were a think tank someone took seriously. As much as I loved my internship and Washington D.C. itself, I began to harbor a growing sense of resentment.
I got this from Wil Wheaton's website. I'm just re-posting it here because its funny.

Guys, you know the drill. Every 14th of February you get the chance to display your fondness for a significant other by showering her with gifts, flowers, dinner, shows and any other baubles that women find romantic.

Every Valentines day you rack your brains for that one special, unique gift that will show your wife or girlfriend that you really do love them more than any other.

Now ladies, I'll let you in on a little secret; guys really don't enjoy this that much. Sure seeing that smile on your face when we get it right is priceless, but that smile is the result of weeks of blood, sweat and consideration. Another secret; guys feel left out.

That's right, there's no special holiday for the ladies to show their appreciation for the men in their life. Men as a whole are either too proud or too embarrassed to admit it.

Which is why a new holiday has been created. "March 14th" is now officially Steak and Blowjob Day.

Simple, effective and self explanatory, this holiday has been created so you ladies finally have a day to show your man how much you love him. No cards, no flowers, no special nights on the town; the name of the holiday explains it all, just a steak and a BJ.

That's it. Finally, this twin pair of Valentine's Day and Steak and Blowjob Day will usher in a new age of love as men everywhere try THAT much harder in February to ensure a memorable "March 14th".

Its like a perpetual love machine! The word is already beginning to spread, but as with any new idea, it needs a little push to start the ball rolling. So spread the word and help bring love and peace to this crazy world and, of course, Steak and BJs.

BTW, I'll be posting FB Reflections #2 hopefully on Monday or Tuesday.

Have a great weekend!

Reflections on Foggy Bottom

Fall 1993

It was brisk that morning in Washington, D.C. As I stepped away from the Foggy Bottom metro stop, I paused to survey my surroundings. The street was carpeted with a mixed hue of yellows and reds, marking the arrival of fall. Nattily dressed people hurried purposefully towards their destinations. I nervously gripped the industrial-sized-yet-professional briefcase I impulsively purchased the night before to herald my status as an up-and-coming intern for United States Agency For International Development. I had arrived (figuratively and literally). Almost. I didn't know exactly where I was supposed to go. I knew that USAID was housed in the State Department. I headed toward a group of squat grey buildings that looked promising.

On the way I passed the Health & Human Services building and the infamous Watergate complex. Knowing that Donna Shalala was the HHS Secretary bolstered my confidence. As I approached my objective, I couldn't figure out which building to enter. I later discovered that the State Department sign that is always prominently featured in news reports was helpfully located on the other side of the building. I noticed a guard posted nearby. And he was in a military uniform. Wow! A cute military guard! I was sure he would help me out.

"Erm, can you tell me where the State Department is?" I asked him.

"What was that, ma'am?" he inquired politely.

"The STATE DEPARTMENT," I said a little more loudly.

"I'm not sure what you are asking, ma'am," he stated unhelpfully.

What? Was he dense?

"Uh, never mind then," I said glumly.

"Certainly, ma'am." He nodded and looked away.

Deep sigh. Perhaps he was deliberately being obtuse in order to deter me in case I was a baddie. But that wasn't helping me at the moment. I mean did I really look like a baddie? Communism in Russia had just collapsed! The then labelled Newly Independent States needed my help in focusing the twin streams of 'the development of the rule of law' and 'economic development via privatization' thus promoting the eventual democratization of countries like the Ukraine! I was here to do do my part! Really! I just had to find the right entrance.

I eventually picked a doorway that looked busy and opened the glass door. I walked into a large room blocked by a line of security turn-styles. Mini-flags of many nations lined one wall. It all looked very impressive and indeed it did turn out to be the right way. My vivid memory of that day was one of an idealistic, eager intern gazing at the vast horizon of possibilities open to her, eager to affect some positive change in the world, no matter how infinitesimal.

More to come...

Am I A Twinkie or a Banana?

I'm sure many people would say, "Yes, you are! Both!" Ha ha. But I mean it in the sense that I may be yellow (Chinese) outwardly, but am totally American-ized (white) on the inside. I don't have too many opportunities to speak Chinese. Except with my parents and a few attempts to teach my kids (did I mention I have two kids?) some phrases and counting. Kid #1 (henceforth known as #1) is now teaching my Caucasian husband to speak Chinese! My attempt to pass my heritage to my kids will probably consist of exposure to my parents and their environment, taking them to Chinese restaurants and the implicit transmission of the Chinese work ethic (go to college and get good grades and get a good job!). Anyway, enough of this soliloquy stuff.

I just heard about a new special on PBS with Bill Moyers titled "Becoming American: The Chinese Experience" which airs on March 25, 2003. It chronicles the experiences of Chinese-Americans individually and as a whole through the last century. For more information, this is the website.

A movie I am keen to see is "Bend It Like Beckham". It is in limited release as of March 12, so I'm going to try and see it when I can. It is a story of an Indian girl (who lives in Britain) whose soccer-playing dreams clash with the plans her traditional Indian family has in mind. The trailer is quite funny.

Vignette Du Jour

Angry Little Asian Girl - I find her quite amusing.

Welcome To The Dim Sum Diaries

What is Dim Sum?

Dim Sum means "a little bit of heart" in Chinese. During lunch hour at Chinese restaurants everywhere (at least at the ones that serve dim sum) restaurant workers push around metal carts filled with various dishes of food, hawking their specialty. If you are interested, you signal the worker to put the food on your table. He or she then stamps your bill. Everyone can order their favorite dish and then some because you need a lot of these dishes to satisfy your appetite. My family and I did this pretty much every weekend when I was growing up. It gave us a chance to bond and share. Oh yeah, and eat too (a very important ritual for Chinese people).

And Why Is There A Diary About It?

Dim Sum doesn't really have anything directly to do with this blog. Maybe I'll share some of the various dishes that are served, but more then likely, I'd like to talk about my life and issues from my perspective. Little morsels of information that everyone can digest, though they don't have to necessarily like it. It could be jokes, political humor or something about my life. Each time I post I'll try to include some vignette relevant to Asian-Americans. A link or story or something. I'm making this up as I go along.

And for my first "vignette":

Emotion Eric

Its really funny! And he's Asian too!