Dim Sum Diaries

An Italian Goes To Malta

Note: I went to this interesting Italian restaurant tonight. This was prominently displayed on the wall, I kid you not. I will post more later on the restaurant itself. This joke must be read in an Italian accent.

One day ima gonna Malta to bigga hotel. Ina morning I go to eat breakfast. I tella waitress I wanna two pissis toast. She brings me only one piss. I yella her I want to piss. She says go to the toilet. I say you no understand. I wanna to piss onna my plate. She say you better not piss onna plate, you sonna ma bitch.

Later I go to eat at the big reataurant. The waitress brings me a spoon and a knife but no fock. I tella her I wanna fock. She tella me everyone wanna fock. I tella her you no understand. I wanna fock on the table. She say better not fock on the table, you sonna ma bitch. I don't even know the lady and she calla me sonna ma bitch.

So I go to my room inna hotel and there is no sheit onna my bed. I calla the manager and tella him I wanna sheit. He tella me to go to the toilet. I say you no understand. I wanna sheit onna my bed. He say you better not sheit onna bed, you sonna ma bitch. I don't even know the man and he calla me a sonna ma bitch.

I go to the checkout and the man at the desk say, say "Peace on you." I say piss on you too, you sonna ma bitch. I gonna back to Italy.

I was just checking the news sites and I came across some interesting stories. The first is about the emotional trauma that U.S. forces endure while serving in the Gulf. They go through "critical event stress debriefings" where they talk about their experiences. The article gives some vivid examples:

The tough young recruit frothing in anger as he recalled a lieutenant's command to leave a dead brother soldier on the road - another crew would retrieve him, "Keep that vehicle moving!"

The veteran squad sergeant, all sinew, jaw working against his grief, recalling the task of pulling the remains of a dead friend from his ruined tank, "even a piece of skull that I put in my pocket and carried around, I don't know why."

Also, the Iraqi lawyer who helped to save Jessica Lynch has been granted asylum by the U.S. He arrived here on 4/10 and is now free to start a new life.
I'm trying to dredge up the fortitude to sit down and write the next to final chapter of the DC saga, but I keep getting distracted by work and day-to-day stuff. As I am slightly depressed, I decided to relate something cheerful for a change. This is about my Auntie G, who lives near San Francisco. I've always admired her because she is such a free spirit and an adventurer. And she loves to lecture me.

Back in the Day (1994):

Auntie G: We should all go hiking sometime.
Me (thinking it is a stroll through Golden Gate Park): Oh yeah, dig it baby!
AG (warming up to the subject): You'll have to take a couple of days off. We each carry a giant backpack on our backs and it weighs like 50 lbs. We only eat what we can carry. And we hike twelve miles a day over rough terrain. It'll be fun! Out of all the nieces and nephews, you always struck me as the most adventurous.
J (my boyfriend): *rolls eyes because he knows the truth*
Me (enthusiasm for hike rapidly dwindling): Oh, that sounds...lovely...uh...so where do you go to the bathroom?
AG: You dig a hole.
Me: Doh.

2002 (J, now my hubbo and I are visiting Auntie G in S.F. We have just finished breakfast):

AG: You know your cousin R just went on a hike with us.
Me: Oh yeah?
AG: Yeah we hiked to the top of Half Dome (a 17 mile hike up a mountain that rises 4800 ft from the valley floor) and he loved it. He didn't even complain once! And there was this group of Marines hiking too. They were all 18 and probably in boot camp. Some of them were having a hard time making it up top and complaining. And then I, an old woman in my late '40's, hiked right past them. Well they took it as an insult that I could beat them, so they tried to climb up faster. Some of them actually beat me too. (AG looks smug).
Me (sprawled out on the couch after breakfast and about to take a snooze): That's wonderful, Auntie G.
AG: You never did go hiking with me, did you.
Me: Nope. I finally admitted to myself that I am a lazy ass.
J: Yes you are.
I should be writing deep, insightful stories. Instead I'm playing dress-up with Saddam!
This is funny. If its Saturday night, and you've got nothing better to do, then Spank The Monkey! (Hint: Do it really fast to get better results). Mwhaaaaaaaaaaaa...

I am a big emotional sop...

I admit it...CNN just published an article about Rachel Loy, who wrote a song about her friend Matt who is serving in the Gulf. I thought it was so touching. Now I have to buy this CD. The lyrics are below...

The Same Man (for Matthew)
by Rachel Loy
This is for you my friend
I'm waiting on the other end
checkin' every day to see if you wrote me a letter
This is 'cause I miss my friend
off fighting with the other men
but you know I couldn't be more proud
even if I felt better
'Cause the same man who held me so close that night
is the same man who is sleeping with his gun
And the same man who would never ever start a fight
is the same man who would never ever run
I thought of you again last night
Thought of you in a brand new light
Head high with your proud stare
never looking back
I know you'll fight bravely
I know it 'cause you promised me
soon you'll be home with your short hair
and your funny little laugh
'Cause the same man who left me speechless with his eyes
is the same man now squinting in the sun
And the same man who would never ever start a fight
is the same man who would never ever run
And the same man who left my heart all big and sore
is the same man now facing his death
And the same man who would never ever start a war
is the same man who would always protect
2003 Rachel Loy

Wil Wheaton makes an interesting point today in his blog. Apparently Dubbya called the Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf "his man". This was in an interview with Tom Brokaw. But Wil has this to say:

"He's my man?



You know who Bush's MAN should have been? Every American soldier who was in Iraq fighting his immoral, illegal, and totally unnecessary war. Every child who is without a father or mother, every husband or wife, son or daughter who isn't ever coming home . . . they are "your man," Mr. Bush."

I think it is quite interesting...

Also, VT005 (rt.com chat buddy) is going to boot camp on Monday. He’s joining the Army, so I just wanted to wish him good luck!

Winter was inching in slowly. The bare trees and decreasing temperatures was a stark reminder that the semester was almost over. A few of us "guilty ones" had gathered one Friday to informally discuss the PSD?s announcement. No one was certain whether they should come forward or not. To confess would only mean certain humiliation and possible expulsion.

"I think we should do it," said Dave suddenly. Dave was the elected president of our class. He had a casual personality and an easy smile for everyone who met him.

"Are you serious?" I said. "You?re going to get kicked out!"

"Well technically, I did drink, so why the hell not?" he replied. "What do you guys think?"

"I think you?re crazy," I told him. He shrugged.

I had already decided not to say anything. The semester had started out so brilliantly. I was enthralled with my internship and the city. However, this idealism quickly soured when the teachers kept shoving their dogmatic opinions down my throat. I reacted by regurgitating exactly what they wanted, but I was also frustrated and bitter. Perhaps subconsciously I defied the honor contract as a way to protest the Program?s stringent mentality. With only two weeks left in the program, I reasoned that coming forward would be futile and give them the final say over an already horrible experience.

The debate continued for a while longer. In the end only Dave and his two roommates decided to come forward. Having made their decision, all three went to go talk to PSD. I just sat and stared off into space. I must have looked pretty upset because Jack grabbed my hand. "Come on, let?s get out of here," he said quietly. He told me to grab my gear in order to spend the night at Daniel?s place, who was away on a flight.

We got take-out and ate dinner at the apartment. By that time I had managed to calm down somewhat. Jack made banana pudding to cheer me up.

"I hate this fucking place," I told Jack. "I don?t know if I can stand to be here for another three weeks."

"I know. Why don?t you reschedule your flight so that you leave DC earlier instead of staying that extra week after school ends?" he suggested.

I seized upon the idea immediately. "Great idea," I said. I called American Airlines and changed my flight. It wasn?t cheap, but it was worth it to leave the hellhole. I?d also get to see my boyfriend sooner. After the phone call, I immediately felt better. When I got back to my apartment the next day, I sought out Dave to ask him what happened. He grimaced.

"PSD said the faculty has to discuss it and they?ll let us know their decision on Monday," Dave said. Well their fate was sealed. The only thing to do was to wait.
Class was only an hour away and I was nervous. Jack still hadn't come by, which meant he was either at his internship or he was meeting with the Studies Program Director. There was still that upcoming "announcement" by the Studies Program Director in class to contemplate. Time passed slowly as I gathered my books and notes for class. As I walked down with D to class, I couldn't stop fidgeting.

"Don't worry about it," D tried to reassure me. "Maybe the Studies Director just wants to announce that he's going to finally take that stick out of his ass."

"I wish," I replied. We arrived at the classroom and took our seats. A hush settled over the room as the Studies Program Director (herein known as SPD) walked in. He paused at the lectern and gazed emotionlessly at the class. The room grew quieter still as we waited for him to begin speaking. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Jack sneak in. I gestured for him to sit in the seat I had saved for him, but he shook his head and sat by the back wall instead. Now I was really scared. SPD shuffled some papers and cleared his throat. The tension in the room was palpable.

"I want to make an announcement. A grave thing has happened." SPD stated.

I glanced nervously at Jack. He just had a grim look on his face.

"I've heard some reports from unnamed sources that a few of you have been drinking alcohol. Now I can't say who," he said piously, "but you know who you are and that it is against the rules. I am going to leave it to you to voluntarily turn yourselves in, and then we'll see how it goes from there. That is all." He exited the room as quickly as he had entered.
Everyone was stymied, but the rest of class passed quickly and without incident.

I cornered Jack after class. "So what happened?" I asked him urgently. "I though PSD was going to crucify you in class or something!"

"I totally denied it," he said. "And there wasn't much that they could do. I just have to keep a low profile until the semester ends."

"You know Jack," I mused, "I never asked you why you joined this program in the first place. It's so frigging conservative."

"I joined this Studies Program because it was the only way to get an internship in DC," he said. "A small religious college in the deep South isn't exactly crawling with opportunity, you know. I knew there was a chance of "being caught", but I couldn't pass it up, you know? I didn't think it would come to this, though. You know my roommates didn't even apologize." he explained.

"Damn them all to hell," I muttered.

"Well, that's the least of our problems. Are you going to turn yourself in, you lush?" he said half-jokingly.

Good question.

Trouble Comes A Courtin'

I woke up crying. Again. Have you ever had such an intensely bad dream that you cried because you thought it was real? Luckily my roommates were already gone so I didn’t have to deal with their curiosity. I wiped the tears from my face and padded over to the bathroom. While the water was running, I scrutinized myself in the mirror as I waited for the water to warm up. I’d been having a lot of these kinds of dreams lately. I thought it might have something to do with my mom’s accident a few years ago. The one where she almost died and was in a coma for the better part of a week. I splashed water on my face and pushed the depressing thoughts aside. I’d deal with it later, I thought to myself.

I was supposed to meet Jack for breakfast this morning and I was running late. I hurriedly got dressed and went out the door. He wanted to eat “out” this morning, instead of meeting at the studies program dining commons as we usually did. This was unusual, but no big deal, I decided. I met a somewhat depressed looking Jack at the restaurant and after the waitress took our order, he gave me a desolate look.

“I have something to tell you. I’m royally screwed.” he said grimly.

“What, isn’t that a good thing for you?” I joked, trying to lighten the atmosphere.

“Be serious, will you? My roommates have accused me of being gay,” he said.

Damn. I immediately knew the implications of his statement. The studies program we were both enrolled in didn’t tolerate homosexuality, drinking or premarital sex. In fact, we had to sign a “honor contract” promising we wouldn’t “engage” in these things. If we did and got caught, it was grounds for expulsion.

“Those bastards! That’s slander! You should kick their asses!” I said angrily.

“I’m supposed to meet with the Studies Program Director today,” he continued.

“What are you going to say?” I asked.

“Deny it, of course,” he said. “What else can I do? I can't tell them I really am gay. I can’t afford to be kicked out because I need the credits to graduate college. Plus I don’t think that my school (Jack attended a private, religious college too) would take to the fact that I’m gay either.”

I spent the rest of breakfast trying to reassure Jack and cheer him up. I don’t think it helped much, as I was pretty pissed myself. I couldn’t believe the narrow-mindedness and intolerance of the people in the program I was associated with. Jack and I both went to our internships afterwards. When I got back from work, D came into my apartment without knocking.

“What’s up?” I said.

“Rumor has it that the Studies Director wants to “talk to us” in class today,” she said. “You know what that means, someone is in hella trouble!”

I wondered who that someone would be.

This Will Be The Last Personal Update from DSD...

I will now be putting all personal thoughts/rants in Mir's SideBlog, which you can get to from the sidebar here. I played around with the design, and contrary to what some people think (rt.com chat nerds) it isn't pink and froofy. I am currently working on a short story and will be posting it tomorrow!
I'm attempting to create a mini-blog, so I can post daily stuff about my life and it won't interrupt the flow of this blog, which focuses on short stories, articles, links and witty observations (at least I think they are witty). However, it seems like Blogger and BlogSpot aren't being very cooperative with me today (plus work), so look for it in the next few days.

In this time of war, news networks like CNN broadcast endlessly about the war in Iraq---the details of a particular battle, the politics of the war, the number of casualties and so on. For me, the war is a distant reality. None of my immediate family is serving in the conflict. I go about my daily life though I check CNN and MSNBC periodically for the latest news. In fact, my experience with knowing actual soldiers eligible to serve is limited to a friend’s husband. I appreciate how a soldier looks hunky and gorgeous in dress blues. What little I thought I know about Marines is derived from the sadly skewed perspective of romance novels (read: big, bad sexy, noble hero of a Marine who is totally lethal and highly trained. He is reserved but carries secret emotional baggage that can be cured with sex, the love of a good woman and lots of babies).

Enter Anthony Swofford, whose book, “Jarhead: A Marine’s Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles”, totally blew me away. It is a gritty, candid look at his life as a grunt. He joins the Marines because he feels a duty to continue the military tradition of his family. He almost immediately regrets this decision, but sticks it out. During breaks in training, he reads “The Pocket Nietzsche”. As one would expect in an organization with a large aggregate of men, there is prolific profanity and violence embedded in the culture of the Marine Corps. A person's hands are referred to as “dickskinners” and one’s mouth is a “cum-receptacle”.

His take: “Like most good and great marines, I hated the Corps. I hated being a marine because more than all of the things in the world I wanted to be---smart, famous, sexy, oversexed, drunk, fucked, high, famous, smart, known, understood, loved, forgiven, oversexed, drunk, high, smart, sexy---more than all of these things, I was a marine. A jarhead. A grunt.”

When the Gulf War commences, he details the boredom of waiting for combat, seeing the countless burned out corpses of Iraqis who were hit by bombs. He almost gets killed himself. Tony is smart enough to know that the Gulf War was more then liberating Kuwait. “None of the rewards of victory will come my way, because there are no rewards, not on the field of battle, not for the man who fights the battle -- the rewards accrue in places like Washington, D.C., and Riyadh and Houston and Manhattan, south of 125th Street." The men in his battalion morph into different beings during wartime. They cope with their stress and emotions by engaging in “field-fucking”. The group targets a guy that everyone is pissed at and they all take turns pantomiming sodomy on him. In another instance, a member of his battalion repeatedly desecrates an Iraqi corpse.

This book chronicles the depths of the despair Anthony Swofford experiences. There are some funny moments, but there is no happy ending here. He ends his book with the following: “Some wars are unavoidable and need well be fought, but this doesn’t erase warfare’s waste. Sorry, we must say to the mothers whose sons will die horribly. This will never end. Sorry.” A damning conclusion that makes one think about the war we are fighting now and whether all the suffering it is causing our soldiers and the Iraqis is indeed worth it.


Seven U.S. troops that were listed as POWs or MIA have been rescued! They are all in good shape except that two have bullet wounds. Everyone is very happy. For the full story click here.
I just created an "About Me" page, which details a little more about this blog, my life, etc. Click the link on the side to get there...
"They have started throwing those pencils, but they are not pencils, they are booby traps to kill the children."

"There are no American infidels in Baghdad. Never!"

"My feelings - as usual - we will slaughter them all."

"Our initial assessment is that they will all die."

"I blame Al-Jazeera - they are marketing for the Americans!"

This site is pretty funny. It lists all the quotes Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, the Iraqi Beret Wearing Info Minister, has stated. The site is under heavy load though, so you may have problems getting in.

We Love The Iraqi Information Minister!

(thanks Steve Yun for the link)

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Things were getting worse. The students at the studies program had splintered into two factions: the conservatives and the liberals. There was tension between the conservative and liberal group. There was tension between the liberal group and the teachers. It got to the point where I couldn’t even hang around my own apartment. The Last Two American Virgins (my roommates) would always be sprawled on the couch reveling in their undefiled status, so I stayed away. The only relief was the core group of people that I hung out with. They supported me through the “Jubilee” debacle and everything after that. They consisted of Jack, D, and a few others and we would go out a few nights a week to commiserate over our misery. Or have a laugh at someone’s expense (usually mine).

One such occasion occurred when a group of us “libbies” went out for dinner. The restaurant we went to was a dimly light affair complete with candlelight at every table. It was more suited for a romantic couple on a date, but I didn’t care. We immediately ordered a round of drinks and as time passed our laughter and chat grew progressively louder. Our conversation consisted mostly of complaining about the studies program. My contribution to the conversation was to declare repeatedly, “Damn them. Damn them all to hell!”

After inhaling two Long Island Ice Teas, I felt at peace with the world. I had a low tolerance for alcohol (Asian-Americans are notorious for this), usually turning red after only half a beer. So when I did get truly snookered, I was a happy, sleepy, red-faced drunk. I rested my head in my hands and started to drift a bit.

“My God, your hair is on fire!” Jack cried out suddenly.

An acrid smell assaulted my nose. Indeed, in my drunken haze, I had leaned too far forward and my now flaming bangs had been ignited by the candle at the table.

”Dammit!” I yelped.

I slapped my forehead in an attempt to put out the flames. It went out, but not before the entire table was howling with laughter at my sad predicament. My singed bangs were now all smelly and uneven. D wiped a tear of laughter from her eye. “So, I suppose that is a real ‘bang up’?” she asked with a semi-straight face.

I glared at her. “Yeah, I’m just all hair to please you,” I grumbled.

Everyone groaned. “No more puns!” Jack pleaded, “My hair hurts from just hearing it.”

I sighed. Despite these hilarious occurrences, the spiraling tensions were only a hint of the troubles to come.
I wish I could truthfully write that every morning dawned with ‘The West Wing' theme song during my days in Washington, D.C. Or that I walked the hallways of the State Department talking with important people about important things. That obviously wasn't the case. The truth was I worked mostly with career bureaucrats who were great at their jobs, but it wasn’t exactly glamorous.

7:00 am - I was running late. If I didn't get out the door soon, I'd be late for work. I hastily put on my running shoes, despite it clashing horrendously with my business suit. It was the only practical way to jog the half-mile to Union Station to take the Metro to work. I lived near the poorer section of town and as I walked towards the Metro, I was always amazed by the gradually changing landscape from disheveled, poverty-stricken neighborhood to the gleaming buildings of power and manicured lawns. It was hard to believe they existed only a few blocks from each other.

8:15 am - At work now, I hurried to my desk. Today was a big day for me. A signing ceremony for a joint venture between USAID and Russia was scheduled. The fact sheets I had worked so hard on were to be distributed as part of a press kit. My boss had been kind enough to praise me my work lavishly. 'Everyone who had read them thought you did a good job', she said. My ego knew no bounds at that point. The fact sheets had been printed on official government letterhead. I was part of the propaganda machine - woo hoo! I grabbed the box of fact sheets and followed my boss to the room where the signing ceremony was to be held. The Russian Ambassador and some State Department official would do the actual signing to make the partnership 'official'.

9:00 am - I started distributing the press kits. The press who were there to cover the event looked a little bored. Okay, so the privatization of the trucking industry in Nizhniy-Novgorod was hardly exciting news, but it was certainly relevant! I handed a copy to a bored looking reporter. "This is quite helpful and informative," I enthused.

"Yeah, thanks," he said and stuffed it into his bag without even glancing at it.

Hmmm. That was kind of odd. Did he not find the population of Kyrgyzstan fascinating background material? Apparently, the reporter wasn't worried that the Russian Ambassador would ask him what the capital of Belarus was. Oh well, his loss. I moved to a corner to stand as the signing ceremony was about to begin. The State Department official made a short speech. The Russian Ambassador made a short speech. They both signed a piece of paper. Then they both smiled and shook hands as cameras flashed. Then it was over. My boss motioned me to walk with her behind the Russian contingent. I was in proximity to the Russian Ambassador! Oh the stories I could impress people with! My fingers itched to touch the hem of his coat. If I did, it would be my one brush with greatness! But I refrained, lest his burly bodyguard tackle me to the ground and accuse me of grabbing the Russian Ambassador's ass.

10:00 am - Back at my desk, it was back to work as usual. My boss assigned me a new project. Later I would pop over to the cafeteria to have some of that wonderful Caesar salad. Then perhaps I would go to the library to borrow some books on International Politics. Then it would be back to class at the Studies Program.

Being an intern at USAID was never boring.


Another heartwarming story...

Wow, this story is better then anything I could have written and its true! It is the tale of an Iraqi man who was visiting his wife (who worked as a nurse in an Iraqi hospital). He saw Pfc. Jessica Lynch being held in one of the hospital rooms. Apparently an Iraqi security guy was slapping her around. "Mohammed", as he is named, decided to help her, so he walked six miles out of town to find Marines to tell them that an American female soldier was being held in the hospital. The Marines made him go back twice to confirm the story and draw maps for them. Then the dramatic rescue of Jessica Lynch by commandos happens! Mohammed and his family only had the clothes on their back and a blanket with them when they went to the Marines. They can't go back to their home now because of fear of reprisals. This is one of the few successful rescues of a POW in the last 50 years! For the full story, click here.
Can you tell which one is the real peach? This is a pretty funny site, but prepare to be mooned.

In other news, I'll try to post a story later today.
The day of Thanksgiving was sunny but chilly. We had taken the train from Cambridge to spend the holiday with Des’s classmate Abby. Her dad picked us up from the train station. As we pulled into the driveway, I sniffed appreciatively at the scent of baking pies wafting from their trim and tidy house. The house had been painted a cheery yellow, I noted. As we walked up the brick steps leading to the house, the door opened. Abby’s mom stepped out and was still wiping her hands on her apron as she smiled in greeting.

“Hello,” she said warmly. We greeted her in return and walked inside. Holiday music was playing in the background as she directed Des and me to the room we would stay in for the night.

“This part of the house was built in the 1700’s,” she said. “You gals wash up and come down so we can chat, okay?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Des and I chorused together. As she left, I put my gear down and surveyed the room. An antique iron bed covered by a white eyelet duvet dominated the room. The walls were covered in a soft cream while the wintry sunlight streamed in through the windows, making the room light and airy.

"Wow, the 1700's." I repeated reverently. I sat on the bed and bounced a little, testing the springs. "Maybe somebody famous like George Washington or Thomas Jefferson slept here." I mused.

"Not unless GW was into bestiality. This is a converted barn, dork." Des smirked.

"Shut up, Ms. Beacon-Of-Truth-And-Light!" I snapped back. We both just grinned at each other.

After we settled in, we went downstairs to help with the cooking. However, Abby’s mom seemed to have everything well in hand and just shooed us away. I passed the time by napping. Eventually dinner was ready and we all sat down to eat. A linen tablecloth had been laid over the table. Candles glowed softly in the light and lent the table a formal appearance. A golden brown turkey sat in a place of honor. Dishes of buttered mash potatoes, sweet potato pie, stuffing, cranberry relish and rolls steamed fragrantly. Abby’s dad sat at the head of the table and began to carve the turkey. Sitting with Abby’s family was like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. My family had always celebrated Thanksgiving with a turkey, but we usually had rice and Chinese dishes as an accompaniment. Our idea of cranberry sauce was (and still is) the cylindrical wedge from the can. My family is quite large and tended to eat buffet style with everyone sitting in different areas of the house. To my Chinese eyes, I was seated with the perfect American family with the perfect American Thanksgiving dinner.

After Abby’s dad carved the turkey, we ate while listening to Christmas music. Des told me later that Abby’s sister wasn’t speaking to her dad and about Abby’s issues with her family. Reality had crept back in and Abby’s family seemed more like my own---a bickering, exuberant lot. But for a single moment it felt pretty groovy to be part of that Norman Rockwell picture.