Dim Sum Diaries

Saying It In French Makes It Sound Better...

I think I went a little overboard this weekend. My cool new laptop had to be placed in an equally cool atmosphere. I dusted off my desk which had formerly been a book/magazine holder and also bought a trendy desk lamp. I placed my new iBook upon the center of the desk, so now it looks totally stylin'.

"Behold my new ESCRITOIRE..." I declared to Hubby and my mom (who was staying for the week) proudly.

"A what?" Hubby wanted to know.

"Its French for 'writing desk'. Now after the toils of the day I can perch daintily at my ESCRITOIRE whilst keying in "THE GREAT CHINESE-AMERICAN NOVEL" and listening to classical music on my iTunes," I bragged.

My mom, whom has always been able to see past my bullshit, merely asked, "So when are you going to start writing?"

"Tonight!" I tell her. "After I surf the Internet."
Its taking me a little time to get used to the Mac, so I'm posting this from the "main" PC. My commenting system has been offline for 2 days now and I hope they get it fixed soon!!!

Today is a little depressing since I read that the two U.S. soldiers that were missing were found dead. Two hundred soldiers have been killed (by accident or attacked) since Prez Bush declared an end to major combat operations back in May. This really disheartens me. I hope we know what we are doing, that we get it done quickly and get the hell out of there.

Live From A Secret Remote Location In The Bowels Of My House...

My first post from my new iBook! Ta Da!!!
I got my iBook laptop delivered today. Yay, I’m so happy! Unfortunately Apple doesn’t make those cool colored ones anymore. Apparently businessmen had a problem with it not looking high-tech enough.

Businessman X: "Yes, let me whip out my purple iBook and show you the rising figures. iBook! I said iBook!"

Hubby and I were engaging in hand-to-hand combat over who gets access to our main PC on a nightly basis. I want to surf the ‘Net and obsess over my website stats, he wants to play Eve. We also got a Wireless Router so I can use my laptop from anywhere in the house. What a wonder modern technology is.

Of course, the main rationale for buying the laptop was so I could start fulfilling my lifelong ambition of writing a book/novel. So we’ll see how it goes. I’m scribbling notes and an outline on it as we speak.

Good music to write by:

1. The American President (the movie soundtrack), so I can write witty, intelligent dialogue that takes place while walking quickly through multiple rooms like Aaron Sorkin.

2. Emma (the movie soundtrack) by Rachel Portman, so I can write thoughtful, sensitive, endearing dialogue like Jane Austen.

Can you tell that I like movie soundtracks? ^_^
I could barely crawl out of bed this morning because my muscles protested every move I made. This was directly caused by the ballet class I took yesterday, which also provided a much-needed outlet for stress relief.

Brenda (the ballet instructor) recommended that the four others in my class move on to Adult 2. However, some are hesitant to leave the comfort and camaraderie of Adult 1. Even though Adult 2 is only the “somewhat slightly better then beginner” class, an element of snobbery exists. Apparently they act like they are the shit even though they aren’t quite at the advanced/professional stage yet. I’m sure they work very hard, but it seems like the snobbery is premature. It’s like the fashionably dressed sales clerks who work at some swanky department store. They look like they should grace the cover of the J. Crew catalogue. They also tend to be pretty snobby, yet they make only minimum wage.

I have observed a subtle change in my routine since taking up ballet. I now pluck my eyebrows and shave (great, now it sounds like I have a mustache which I don’t) on a fairly regular basis. This is to avoid the “unibrow/noticeable-hairy-leg-hairs-beneath-the-tights/hairy-pits” look. Not attractive. I also notice that I carry myself with more confidence. Maybe it’s the knowledge that I’m doing something cool, or perhaps it’s the inherent snobbery of the sport starting to rub off on me. Who knows? In the meantime, I’m having fun.
Check out this un-bee-lievable space!

(Thanks to Ernie for the link)
Based on a comment from someone who didn't leave their name, I guess this entry could be construed as kinda bad in retrospect. So this one is being taken off, only because Hubby was embarrassed that I mentioned him in his skivvies.

Sorry honey.

However, I'm not apologizing for the way we joke around with each other.
One Saturday as I was taking my daughter to the local YMCA for her swim lesson, I caught a glimpse of a "Mommy/Daddy & Me" swim class. It was comprised of a group of 30 parents and kids (under age 2). The parents were singing "Old McDonald Had A Farm" at the top of their voice, while puppeteering their children in the coordinating dance moves. Apparently they were enjoying it. At the end of the song, many squealed, "Yay!!!!!!!" to their kid, as if the kid had just performed brain surgery of something. Many onlookers stared at this class either in amusement or horror. I was of the latter. OH. MY. GOD. Who in their right mind would do that??? Not me, I told myself.

Yesterday, I realized that my children were growing up. My daughter is 5 years old and she learned how to ride a bike without training wheels only after two days. My son, who is 2.5 years old, is going through potty training. Last night he sat on the toilet and made an honest attempt to "do it". He ended up peeing on my pants leg because he didn't know how to aim, but at least he tried. I was jumping for joy.

"Yay, you peed...on Mommy's leg! Good boy!" I exclaimed. "Next time try to aim down, okay?"

While changing out of my pee-laden pants, I realized that the love you have for your children takes many shapes and forms. You are willing to endure things for their sake that you wouldn't take from anyone else. Whether it be loudly singing the Barney song in the pool in front of a live audience or having your pants pissed upon, you well up with emotion when you realize how much you love the little beings that were created by you.

How Harry Potter Showed Me The Way To True Love...

Okay not quite, but Harry Potter did show me that love puts up with a lot of shit. The release date for HP in the U.S. is 6/21. I reserve the book for Hubby on Thursday, 6/19.

"Oh I can't wait till the midnight release party for HP!" Bookstore Clerk enthuses, thus tricking me into thinking that the release party is for that night. At about 1:00 am, I am awakened from a deep sleep when Hubby saunters into the room after playing his computer game.

"Mrmmph mrmmph HP book party tonight...mmprhph you should go get book," I mumble.

"Really?" Hubby asks. He is out the door like a shot, driving like a mo fo in the middle of the night to get his beloved book. He comes home awhile later.

"The bookstore was closed. Nobody was there," he informs me dejectedly.

"Mmmph," I maunder.

Friday morning dawns and Hubby figures out that I told him to go on the wrong night. He makes it a point to inform me of that fact. Oops. That night is the actual Book Party night, but when he again goes at midnight, the bookstore is mobbed. He leaves without getting the book. He is bummed. The next day (Saturday) I have a bunch of errands to run in the morning.

"Okay honey, I'm going shopping now," I tell him. "Can you watch the kids for a bit? I'll get you the HP book. You big, strong, handsome hunka burnin' love you..."

I flutter my lashes in a way he can't refuse.

"Yes, dear," he mutters.
Entry currently being reworked because I'm having second thoughts about it....
I have this idea floating around in my head that won’t go away. I’d like to write something about military soldiers (male or female) and their experiences regarding combat and coming back home afterwards. However, I’m at a loss as how to meet them and get them to talk to me. Since I live near a military base, I thought a bar would be an ideal place to start (you know like in Top Gun), but that idea was quickly vetoed by Hubby. I signed up for a couple of “Marine Forums”, but I’m not sure if anyone will respond. I need someone who will let me interview them and peer into the depths of their soul (okay maybe not that deep). Then I will write about it. Does anyone know how I might go about accomplishing this?

"How was ballet class last night?" Hubby asked me.

"It was crunchy," I reply.

Apparently I misjudged the ages of my fellow dancers (I don’t know why I’m so obsessed with age). They actually are in their late '20's and beyond. You can tell because when we all did grande plies, everyone's bending knees made crunchy, crackly noises. Whilst completing multiple repetitions of plies, we had had nice, crunchy backbeat accompanying the classical music.

I had a chance to chat a bit with one of the dancers last night.

"So, are you in college?" I query.

"I wish! No, actually, I'm a zookeeper," she replied.

"Wow," was all I could say. Visions of a noble occupation that entailed saving an endangered species and wearing cool khaki outfits came to my mind.

"Actually, a lot of it is sweaty, dirty work," she said. "One of the worse things is cleaning up elephant shit. The group of elephants at the zoo generates 900 lbs of shit a day. And I get to clean it up using a shovel and wheelbarrow."

"Oh," I said. My splendid vision quickly dissipated.

After class, I drove to the local Walmart. I was in a desperate search for cookies that looked authentically homemade. Today is my kid's Pre-K graduation, and the parents were instructed to bring 48 "homemade cookies" for the graduation party. When in the hell am I going to find time to play Martha Stewart? Screw that, I thought to myself. I grabbed some patriotic looking cookies and a lavender tray (they may be store bought, but they sure as hell are going to look good). I plan to sprinkle a little bit of flour on each cookie for that "just baked" look.

So that's what I have to do when I get home. Iron daughter's graduation cape. Deceive parents and teachers of daughter's preschool because Mommy is too tired to bake some frigging homemade cookies. Make sure two-year old terror of a son hasn't burned house down by playing with the lamp when he supposed to be napping (don't ask, it’s a long story).
I forgot to give an update on ballet class from last week. It went well (as opposed to the first class). There were five dancers (including me). Three of them were college age and the other looked to be in her late '30s or early '40s (this sounds bad, but yay! I'm not the oldest one in the class!). After an initial silence, one of the dancers chatted with me, so that was pretty cool.

"Did anyone go to the ballet class last week? I didn't. I heard it was HORRIBLE!" Friendly Dancer exclaimed.

"I did," I volunteered. "There were about 20 dancers and it was pretty traumatic."

"And you came back for more?" another girl asked jokingly.

"Yep," I said.

Brenda (the instructor) was really nice. While we were at the barre, she walked around inspecting our "technique".

"Pull your leg back into your hip socket when you do your extensions," she instructed me. She moved my leg to demonstrate the proper position.

"I didn't know I could bend that way," I said. Brenda laughed at my lame joke.

Overall, I really enjoyed the class even though my body hurt like hell for days afterwards. I go back again tonight.

Side Note: I deleted the MoonCup entry because I grossed myself out when I thought about it. Also, I am working on Saffy's Diary Entry #2, so look for it over the next few days.
Overheard around the office today:

Coworker 1: What's that smell?
Coworker 2: Oh my god! My keyboard is on fire!

(fire was put out, but sadly, the fire department did not come. They only come when popcorn burns in the microwave)

Me & Coworker, talking about a guy who asked her out and how I think she should be assertive...

Me: You should tell him, "I am going to take you now!"
Coworker: ...
Me: What?
Coworker: What did you say?
Me: I said, you should tell the guy, "I'm going to take you now!"
Coworker: Oh. I thought you said that to me.
Me: Come here, baby. Don't run away from me, my little twinkie! I was just kidding!
I think this "Adventures In Writing" exercise is a good idea. If I keep writing different and varied pieces, then I'm likely to strike gold idea-wise sometime soon. Its like this blog. I signed on for the free version of Blogger last year. First it was "Chiuster's Blog", but that was kind of boring because I didn't really know what to write about. I emailed my family about it, but I think only the Hubby and maybe my mom visited. So that obviously was a no-go. Then in December, after seeing LOTR: TTT, I was like, I love LOTR! I should do a blog themed upon it! I called version two "My Elvish Name Is Annuntilwen", which I thought was totally cool, but then nobody read that either. Except maybe Hubby, and only then because I nagged him into it. I didn't want to write a blog strictly about my daily life, because that sounded so boring to me. I felt like I didn't have anything interesting to say. Damn, what the hell do I do every day? Go to frigging work, come home, cook dinner, spend time with the kids, blah blah blah. However, since the DAY (my birthday), which was so traumatic (still getting counseling, meds to cope), I finally came up with the bright idea of The Dim Sum Diaries. It turns out there is a Canadian TV show a few years back by the same name, but since they haven't said anything yet, I'm assuming that its not copyright infringement.

Okay, enough blathering. Let's do it, baby.

Explore the possibilities…Version #2

How might a typical scene in a book a la Bridget Jones Diary go? We'll call it "Saffy's Diary", shall we?

Friday, June 13, 2003

7:30 am - Woke up late again. Luckily work is casual casual so don’t have to wear stupid pantyhose. Stopped at Peet's Coffee on the way to work to get some yummies.

8:30 am - Boss on a rampage…must type LOUDLY to ensure boss I am actually working when he is stalking around the office, "checking" our progress. I have to finish coding my assigned module of the application our team is building by end of this week. Deadline looms and everyone is pissy.

10:00 am - Sneaking in a little writing whilst Boss is in a meeting. Watched A&E’s rendition of Jane Eyre last night. Thought Earl of Rochester was absolutely brilliant. Perhaps should try to write novel set entirely on the English moors and the drawing room of some dark, damp English castle, complete with brooding Earl.

His orbs were a deep cerulean blue. A blue so blue that it was almost violet. His hair was the color of midnight, a darkness that one would only find on the darkest hour of the darkest night. The warrior blood of his ancestors pounded through his veins as he stood brooding. His tall and erect figure was a defiant splash of black on the desolate, grey English moor. The moon had just risen over the interlacing fingers of the grey clouds. The wind, oh what an angry wind, blew with such force that his dark cloak billowed about him. The tall, arrogant straight line of his profile belied the deep sorrow he bore alone. Oh the sorrow!

"I will never forget…" he murmured to himself as he at last turned and disappeared in the gray, enveloping fog…

12:00 pm – Lunch! Writing makes me hungry…

2:00 – Am thinking about dressing up as Captain Janeway for company Halloween party. Even though it is months away, it is sure way of catching the attention of new hottie Jack. I hear he is a Trekker. Trekkie. Whatever. Ordering online. Wonder if I should get matching phaser and deluxe com badge as well…

4:00 – Must hurry and finish project before Boss goes postal again. Am going to have drinks with Jules tonight at Dick's Last Resort, a bar that she swears is da bomb. Is "da bomb" even still a hip phrase anymore?

8:35 pm – Dick’s Last Resort is loud and lively. Maybe I'm getting old, but the live band mangling The Red Hot Chili Peppers is not conducive to cruising for guys. Paper napkins litter the floor (for ambiance?) and the pool of available males seems limited here. I sip my Tom Collins fervently. Jules tells me to chill and go with the flow. Whatever. She's already cozied up to some guy. What the hell, I gotsta get me some tonight. Finally after a year few months I will be utter sex goddess again!

9:48 pm – I spot a potential bogey. Scanning is complete. Target has been locked, phasers are set to stun! I catch his eye and he walks over. We make some inane small talk. His name is Ian and he's a fitness trainer. He has a nice bod.

Ian: Hey, that’s a nice dress you got there. Do you think I can talk you out of it?
Me (raising an eyebrow): That's your best line?
Ian: How about this: let's dance, baby.
Me: Sure, what the hell.

So we dance to the live band’s horrible rendition of N'Sync's "Bye Bye Bye". This is the last time I am letting Jules talk me into coming to this place.

10:30 pm - Yes! I'm gonna score with Ian, if the sloppy kisses and fumbling around are any indication. Damn, he has nice pecs!

10:31 pm - I just lit up a ciggie. Ian is snoring like a bull, it was over so quickly. Should have known that Ian flexing his pecs while humming "Dueling Banjos" as a pre-mating ritual was not a good sign. Maybe sex is overrated...when will I find true love?


Hmm...this sounds a little better...I had fun writing this one. ^_^
I have this little voice in my head that sounds like Sharon Osbourne (I already know someone is going to make a smart ass comment about this). Over the past few years it has grown from a soft murmur to a louder, Gollum-esque whisper.

"Yo ass ain't getting any younger," It says. "Why don't you sit yo ass down in front of the computer and write a manuscript?"

"I know that! I want to! But I have a full-time job and a family to juggle! And I have to fight for computer time because Hubby plays Eve all night!" I protest.

"Buy a laptop. Hubby already said he'll pay for half," It sneers back.

"So even if I buy the laptop, I'm unsure of the genre I want to pursue," I ponder.

"Why don't you explore the possibilities until you find a vehicle you feel comfortable with," It argues.

Explore the possibilities…Version #1

Dream-like sequence begins with harp music playing in the background

How about I write a Regency/Pirate/Adventure/Romance? Perhaps a typical scene would go like this:

"I know who you are!" she said contemptuously. She drew out her rapier and aimed it at his sexy throat." You are the Dread Pirate Farbio, Plunderer of the Seven Seas! You killed my father! Now prepare to die!"

"No, my dear Caroline," Alec, the Dread Pirate Farbio, also the Fifth Viscount of Hambersly, replied silkily. "It was the evil One-Eyed-Gimpy Pirate, aka Satan's Toenail! He killed your father! I, however, helped you conquer his ship. So you see, I'm not the bad guy."

"Really?" Caroline asked dubiously. She lowered her rapier as she considered his words.

"Really really," Farbio said smugly. "And now, my dear, we should engage in wild monkey sex for several chapters. You will, of course, immediately fall in love with me. I, however, being a male, will act like an ass at least until near the end of the book. Then I will cease to confuse lust with love. I will realize I am in love with you. Then I will act jealous, tell you I love you, throw you over my shoulder and sail off into the sunset. And then we shall marry, produce many babies and live happily ever after."

"I don't know…" Caroline hesitated.

"Perhaps you will change your mind when you cast your eyes on this!" Farbio challenged. He threw his robe open dramatically.

"Behold my pulsating man-root of love! My purple-helmeted-love-warrior!" he declared. Caroline gasped.

"But it's so…small," she ventured.

"It's not small!" Farbio snapped defensively. "The room is cold! You have to take into account the shrinkage!"


Hmm…I don't know if I'm comfortable writing about the English and the Regency era, which is one of the most popular genres in romance now. I'd like to write a story more true to my roots, but I don't think Regency era China will ever catch on. We'll have to see…
The next blog entry will be more cheerful, I promise.
Here is the conclusion.

Since we weren't allowed into his room, everyone sat back down to wait for some news. I stood just outside of the waiting room hoping to catch a glimpse of something. I could hear the urgent murmur of voices as they worked on him. Then there was silence. The doctors and nurses emerged from his room, talking quietly amongst themselves. They took off their surgical masks and gloves as they walked away. Perhaps because I watched one too many ER episodes, I knew the their efforts had been futile. I went back into the waiting room and sat down. Nobody else seemed to realize what had happened. They were still filled with half-hope and half-dread as they waited to hear from someone. I didn't want to be the harbinger of doom. A half an hour later, a doctor walked into the waiting room.

"I'm sorry, he didn't make it. It was congestive heart failure," he said quietly. He offered his condolences and left. The waiting room was suddenly filled with the sounds of crying and tears. I hugged my mother and my grandmother as they cried. I don’t think Id ever seen my grandmother cry like that before. Each of my cousins was hugging their respective mother. That's why you have children, I thought numbly to myself. So when you get older they can comfort you in times of crisis.

The crying eventually subsided and everyone filed into his hospital room to say their final goodbyes. Gung Gung was still intubated, but his eyes were closed and he looked like he was asleep. At rest. Everyone took turns saying talking to him and saying goodbye. Several of my aunts and cousins even kissed his cheek. My grandmother brushed back his hair, a tender gesture of affection.

When I went to his bedside I had no idea of what to say. I told him goodbye and that I loved him. Then I kissed his forehead. However, the shock of his cold skin against my lips had me jumping back involuntarily. It really freaked me out. I walked out of there because I couldn't take being in the room anymore. Eventually, a nurse approached me and asked if we had made funeral arrangements. They needed the bed space, I guess. I said I would ask, and took charge of calling the funeral home since it gave me something useful to do. My mom looked exhausted. After we stayed there awhile longer, I drove her home. I later found out that some of my family stayed with Gung Gung for hours after we left.

We held his funeral the Saturday after he passed away. It was a closed-casket ceremony because my grandmother didn't want him embalmed. She believed that in order for him to be happy in the afterlife, he needed to be kept intact. It was also decided that the funeral would be a simple ceremony with classical music playing. There would be no mention of God nor would there be any Buddhist monks chanting in the background. Everybody was invited to stand at the podium and make a speech. My dad spoke on our behalf. He had practiced his speech all morning, and when he read it, his voice cracked with emotion. When Gung Gung was finally laid, we burned incense, paper money and figures symbolizing all he would need to live richly and comfortably in the afterlife.


I felt like I had aged after all this happened. And though I was sad he was gone, it made me realize that the family you have with you now should never be taken for granted. Even though two years have passed, my emotions regarding this event still run strongly. I'm glad I had a chance to write about it, as it gave me a way to express my feelings and remember Gung Gung.
One of my favorite authors, Nora Roberts, wrote that "it is strange how grief can hide inside you, like a virus laying low for months, even years, only to spring out and leave you weak and helpless again." My grandfather passed away a couple of years ago and it was a traumatic experience. Now and then memories of him will pop up and it is surprising how depressed I can still get, even after two years. I decided to write about what happened as a sort of cathartic exercise. So here it is:


I was roused groggily from my sleep when the phone began ringing insistently. It was 1:30 in the morning and I felt a sense of foreboding. A phone call at this hour usually meant bad news. It turned out to be from my sister. We talked for a few minutes and I immediately went to get dressed.

"What is it?" Hubby asked sleepily.

"It's Gung Gung (my maternal grandfather). I have to go. I don't know when I'll be back," I said.

"Call me," he requested.

"I will," I promised. I kissed him and headed out the door.

The night sky was an inky black as I drove like a woman possessed. It was a two hour drive to the hospital, but I was determined to make it there sooner. I concentrated on the empty road and the flat, black landscape gliding by, thereby avoiding having to think about the events leading up to this juncture.

Three Days Prior:

"Your Gung Gung has to go to the hospital," Mom told me worriedly. "He had a relapse for his prostate cancer. He has to stay there for at least a month and do chemotherapy."

"Don't worry, Mom," I reassured her. "He'll be out again in no time." I had just finished book by Marian Keyes in which one of the main characters successfully fought off cancer and was in remission. I took this as a sign that Gung Gung would be just as successful.

"You know, the doctor said his red blood cell count was so low that he was surprised that he was still alive," Mom replied.

"Don't worry, Mom," I repeated emphatically.

I made the trip to the hospital in 1 hour and 15 minutes. I was lucky I didn't get pulled over. When I stepped into the ICU waiting room, I saw that two of my aunts were already there. My cousins were huddled around their respective parents. My grandmother was sitting rigidly on an plastic orange chair with a stoic expression on her face.

"So what happened?" I asked my mom.

"I guess he collapsed in the bathroom. It was several minutes before someone found him. He didn't have any oxygen to his brain for that long," she said flatly. I sighed.

I approached Pou Pou (my maternal grandmother). How exactly could I use my limited Chinese to express the depths of my feelings?

"I love you Pou Pou," I told her in Chinese. I patted her back awkwardly. "Everything is going to be okay," I added in English.

She nodded to me. "Ah-Wun, gwai," she replied. "Ah-Wun" was her nickname for me. "Gwai" meant I was being a good girl.

We were still waiting for Aunt G to drive in from San Francisco. Nobody really knew what to expect or how long we would have to wait before the next step was taken. Do we let him stay indefinitely on life support or not? In the meantime, we all took turns visiting his room. I hesitated slightly before going to his room, but I went with my mom and sister to visit. My uncle was already in the room. Gung Gung was pale beneath his tanned skin. His hands would twitch at intervals. Sometimes he would open his eyelids and I could see his eyes rolling around. Then his eyes would close again. I tentatively touched his hand. It was so cold. The contrast between the man that I knew and the man on the bed was a striking contrast. This was the man who babysat me as a baby by taking me to the racetrack. Gung Gung was a vibrant figure who always had a smile for me. The man with a strong profile and a fondness for good food and shopping at factory outlets. He could be at times a distant figure, but was there for his children when it counted. He would blush and shoo me away in when I made a big deal of kissing his cheek in greeting. He was great with children. When we went to Hawaii for my sister's wedding, he babysat my daughter. The emotional connection with my grandfather was even stronger for my mom, her siblings and my grandmother. I could only imagine how much deeper their distress and despair were.

"Look, he knows we're here," my mom told my uncle as if to comfort him.

After awhile we went back to the waiting room. By this time my Aunt G had arrived and the sisters (my mom and her sisters) were hugging each other and my grandmother.

The waiting room was situated only a short distance from Gung Gungs room. Since I was standing near the door I kept an ear attuned to what was going on outside. Suddenly the frantic beeps and whirrs of the medical equipment from his room caught my attention. Three doctors and/or nurses raced into his room. The tension level increased, and everyone began pushing towards his room to see what was going on. However, the nurses held us at bay. I could only begin to guess what was going to happen next.
One of my favorite humorists is David Sedaris. I thought I'd share one of his most popular bits, The Drama Bug, performed on This American Life, a public radio show. Its an hour long (his piece is at 3:00 and 39:00 into the show), but its highly enjoyable. You'll need the latest version of Real Player (get the free one) for this to work. You can also read the written version of TDB in his book, "Naked".

Preview (David Sedaris is talking (a la Fakespeare) to his mom about her cleaning):

Perchance, fair lady, dost thou think me unduly vexed by the sorrowful state of thine quarters? These foul specks, the evidence of life itself, have sullied not only thine shag-tempered matt but also thine character. Be ye mad, woman?

Let me know if you have any problems accessing this file.
New Weatherpixie graphic to brighten up blog!! It is so cool!

Anatomy of a Ballet Class - Part 2

Here is the exciting conclusion...

Yvonne (our instructor) was a petite redhead with an artfully coiffed French twist. You could tell she was a dancer. She walked to the center of the room and clapped her hands to get everyone's attention.

"Listen up! The school has a performance tonight and all the teachers are gone, so we're combining all the classes. Don't worry newbies, it won't be too rigorous. And you advanced people, I'll try not to make it too boring." she announced.

That explained the expert stretchers. The dancers who obviously knew each other chatted quietly, but other then that everyone kept to themselves. I felt a little adrift. Part of me hoped that someone would be a little friendly (besides diamond buckle guy) and introduce themselves. However, they seemed to be aloof with everyone. A girl whom I later discovered was in the advanced class walked in the room a little late. The barres were crowded, so she stood there for a good two minutes looking for a space. No one gestured to her or invited her to stand next to them. She finally had to firmly but politely shove between two other dancers.

Typically, a ballet class is a carefully graded sequence of exercises lasting, typically, an hour and a half. The work falls into three parts. The first part consists of stretching and warming-up exercises done with the support of the barre. You may spend anywhere from forty minutes to an hour at the barre. Then you move to the center of the studio to work without support. The second part of class, called adage, consists of slow work in which the emphasis is on sustaining positions and on balance. The final part of class, allegro, consists of fast work, mostly combinations (sequences of steps) with the big jumps and turns that make ballet such an impressive and dazzling sight.

Yvonne started the class at a brisk pace. We began by doing plies combined with various moves. She would spontaneously devise a sequence, run through it a couple of times and we were off. If I didn't catch onto a particular move, I mimicked the person next to me. If she was off, I was off, but I was beginning to remember some of the movements. After about 45 minutes of barre work, we started to do stretches.

"Stretch however you like," Yvonne instructed. The pianist began playing a slow melody. I realized that when ballet dancers stretched, they had to look elegant and graceful doing it. I tried my best to look graceful, but it was hard. I would have been more comfortable plopping myself on the ground and stretching like a runner. I was paranoid that I would rip my tights if I sat down, so I stayed at the barre.

During the second half of the class, Yvonne demonstrated some sequences which involved dancing from one part of the room to the other. Since the class was so big, everyone would take turns in groups of three. Yvonne must have seen the look of abject terror on my face after she herself demonstrated a particularly complicated sequence because she took pity on the beginners and gave us the easy moves.

The music began to play. The advanced dancers, supremely confident of their alpha status in the class, set off with grace and poise. It actually is quite thrilling to see ballerinas (and ballerina guy) dancing at close range. Words cannot express the power and grace they exuded as they leaped across the room, executing pirouettes and jettes.

After allegro, class was finally over. Yvonne had been really nice and it was definitely interesting. However, the whole "not being friendly" thing kind of irked me, so I called my mother on the drive home to gripe.

"Mom..." I wailed when she picked up the phone. "The ballet people were so not friendly!"

"Well, what did you expect? Everyone is there to be serious, not socialize," she said.

"I didn't expect their adoration, but how hard would it have been to at least say hi! Even the newbies ignored me!" I groused.

"You don't remember how it was when you were growing up? The kids in your ballet class back then were just the same. And their parents were snobs too!! If you were in school in China, everyone would have ignored you as well. They are there to learn and that is it," she lectured.

"I guess," I muttered. We talked awhile longer and hung up.

Eventually I realized that my mom was right. Ballet is not a team sport. Ballet dancers weren't there to pinch each others butts and establish camaraderie. Ballet is a solitary art focusing on the betterment of oneself. I would have to go with the attitude of, "I am Giselle...I am a French beetch!" I would be like the advanced girl in the class who unattractively wore her tights over her leotard instead of under like everyone else did. She didn't give a shit. Neither would I.

And yes, I am going again next week.

(all definitions in italics are courtesy of this handy online ballet dictionary).
I broke this story up into two pieces because apparently I had a lot to say on the subject and it is a really long ass entry. I'll post Part 2 tomorrow.

Oh the agony. My body is a mass of painful, sore muscles that only massive amounts of Ibuprofen would ease. How can I even begin to describe the experience that was ballet class? Not only was it a serious workout, it was also an interesting lesson in "ballet culture", for lack of a better term.

When I entered the ballet school (conveninently located a few blocks away from a well known strip club), it was completely empty. Excitement turned to uncertainty as I meandered the dimly lit hallways. When I finally located the reception desk, I patiently waited for the receptionist who was obviously making a personal call to acknowledge my existence. She managed to ignore me for five whole minutes.

"Oh my god, I am so flexible that I have a slipped disc," she rambled. "Isn't that awful?"

I cleared my throat several times. Finally, she sighed and told whoever was on the other line to hold.

"May I help you?" she asked in a bored voice.

"I'm here for the Adult A class," I informed her.

"Fill this out please," she replied and handed me some paperwork.

At this point, dancers began to trickle in. I quickly filled out the paperwork and sat down. The lone male of the class walked in and began to stretch out his legs next to me. He had dyed his hair a bright corn yellow (even it was so obvious he wasn't blonde). He wore a tank top and black stretchy pants adorned with an ostentatious diamond belt buckle.

"Is this the beginning class?" I asked him in an attempt to make conversation.

"Yes it is." he replied.

"Are there a lot of people in there?" I wondered.

"Oh no, it is a very small class, don't you worry about it." he said reassuringly.

The increasing number of dancers belied his statement. Most of them looked to be college age. One girl actually did the splits and was stretching as she studied from a textbook. I tried to make conversation with the girl next to me but when she limited herself to monosyllabic answers I gave up. Eventually we all filed into the studio and went to stand at the barre (railing, about waist high, along the wall of a studio. Used by dancers as for steadying themselves in the first part of a class.) I estimated that there were about 20 dancers present, and many were already expertly stretching in graceful poses. This was the beginning class? I sighed.

(all definitions in italics are courtesy of this handy online ballet dictionary).
Work is busy so I will try to post my Ballet Adventures later today. I got this in an email, and its pretty funny...

Ladies - If you accidentally over-salt a dish while it's still cooking, drop in a peeled potato and it will absorb the excess salt for an instant "fix-me-up."

Real Woman - If you over-salt a dish while you are cooking, that's too damn bad. Please recite with me, The Real Women's motto: "I made it and you will eat it and I don't care how bad it tastes."

Ladies - Cure for headaches: Take a lime, cut it in half and rub it on your forehead. The throbbing will go away.

Real Woman - Take a lime, mix it with tequila, chill and drink. You might still have the headache, but who cares?

Ladies - Stuff a miniature marshmallow in the bottom of a sugar cone to prevent ice cream drips.

Real Woman - Just suck the ice cream out of the bottom of the cone, for Pete's sake. You are probably lying on the couch, with your feet up, eating it anyways.

Ladies - To keep potatoes from budding, place an apple in the bag with the potatoes.

Real Woman - Buy boxed mashed potato mix and keep it in the pantry for up to a year.

Ladies - When a cake recipe calls for flouring the baking pan, use a bit of the dry cake mix instead and there won't be any white mess on the inside of the cake.

Real Woman - Go to the bakery - they'll even decorate it for you.

Ladies - Brush some beaten egg white over pie crust before baking to yield a beautiful glossy finish.

Real Woman - Sara Lee frozen pie directions do not include brushing egg whites over the crust, so I just don't do it.

Ladies - If you have a problem opening jars, try using latex dishwashing gloves. They give a non slip grip that makes opening jars easy.

Real Woman - Go ask the very cute neighbor guy to do it.

And finally the most important tip....

Ladies - Don't throw out all that leftover wine. Freeze into ice cubes for future use in casseroles and sauces.

Real Woman - Leftover wine??
Apparently I was added to this blog directory where you can preview blogs (based on their stats) before you actually click onto the site. I thought it was pretty cool, but then I noticed that my writing style is geared towards the fifth/sixth grade level. Curses! This is a little depressing. Perhaps all those Harlequin novels have melted my brain. Or I need to start using bigger words! Anyways, head over and take a looksie (Oops, I used another baby word again...oh well).

Ancient Chinese Secrets Revealed...

*Cue Joy Luck Club Music*

It is a matrilineal tradition that is passed from generation to generation. My grandmother passed on its secrets to her daughters. My mother passed it on to my sister and me. Many attempt, but few attain the discipline required to perfect this age-old ritual.

It is the ancient practice of fighting for the check after dinner.

Don't ask me to explain it. I don't know if it is a Chinese thing, but I do know it is my family thing. It is paticularly amusing when my in-laws (who are Caucasian) watch in bewilderment as three otherwise dignifed Chinese women (one of whom is their daughter-in-law) really mix it up.

About three-fourths of the way through dinner, the women in my family pretend to casually eat, but secretly they are calculating the most efficient way to get the bill from the waiter and pay.

Technique #1:

One may use the smooth move of pretending to go to the bathroom, absconding with the bill on the way and paying surreptitiously.

Technique #2:

Or one may repeatedly proclaim loudly that "I'm paying the bill okay?????" in order to stake the first claim.

Fallback Technique #3 (All Hell Breaks Loose):

Failing those measures, when the waiter brings the check over, a physical scuffle ensues. When the three of us are thrown into the mix, mom will grab the check first. Sis and I grab a hold of the other end of the check and a tug of war begins. Techniques such as pinchies and tickling are considered fair game. My dad just sits back and watches in amusement. At first it is all fun and laughs, but when the wrestling ensues in earnest, it usually ends with someone getting really pissed off.

In this paticular instance, I was not a contestant. Mom and Sis were duking it out.

"SAY-BAT-POH!" my mom sneered at my sister in frustration because her daughter was not being obedient.

"What is this?" my sister cried. "Mom called me a SAY-BAT-POH! Hah hah! Mom, you gave birth to a SAY-BAT-POH!!"

Now my mom was really pissed. Sis ended up winning the wrestling match. The best part of this ritual is flaunting the fact that you won and were able to pay the bill. Which she did. Again.

Side note: Since my Chinese isn't that great, I called my dad for some clarification on Chinese words.

"Hey dad, what does SAY-BAT-POH mean?" I query.

There is a pained silence on the other end.

"Why don't you ask your mother?" he replies. He quickly hands the phone off to my mom.

"So mom, what is SAY-BAT-POH?"

"It means yucky 'woman'," she whispers.

"What was that? I can't hear you," I ask.

"It means YUCKY WOMAN, okay?" she says more loudly, exasperated now.

"Cool, I can't wait to blog about this!" I chirp happily.

The Quest For Sartorial Elegance And Beyond...

I went to purchase my ballet accoutrements (pronounced as 'ah-coo-tray-mahnts' with a French accent) today. Basically I needed a leotard, tights and ballet shoes. The last time I had donned such a costume was when I was approximately ten years of age and a skinny stick. Twenty years and two kids later, I've gained a few pounds. Its not like I'm obese or anything. I've just got a slight belly from when I was pregnant two years ago. I'll buy the large size, I told myself magnaminously. That way the clothing will be loose instead of tight.

When I went to Capezio, I was greeted by a salesgirl who obviously practiced ballet. She was very nice and helpful, but I felt a little awkward. Curse her skinny ballet dancer's body! (just kidding, no really)

"Uh, I need some ballet stuff," I mumbled.

"For your daughter?" she asked.

"No, me," I said.

I imagined her giving me the "Uh-huh" look, even though she probably didn't. She fitted me with the shoes and I picked out a navy blue leotard (dark colors slim the body). The tights were a completely different matter. According to the sizing chart, they apparently take your current clothing size and jack it up two sizes. Per their demented logic, I would need the XL ballet tights.

"The tights run a little small," Ballet Sales Girl informed me.

No shit. You wouldn't believe how conscious of my body I was at that moment. I mean seriously! I tried to console myself with the fact that I didn't have to buy their biggest size, the XXL. Only their second to biggest size, the XL. Fuck this, I said to myself.

"Give me the large please," I requested.

Awhile later, I was talking to my mom and she commented that she had read my blog.

"I'm excited about the ballet thing, Mom!" I enthused.

"Hmm....wait until you get through the first lesson," she cautioned. Her implication was that she wondered if I was going to continue the lessons after enduring what will probably be a grueling first workout. I do admit that I can be a lazy ass, but the membership is of a limited duration. If I have a concrete goal in mind, I'll be more likely to complete the three months.

So I just tried on the tights and indeed they are a smidge too tight. Now I have to go back and buy the fat ass tights. Oh well.