Monthly Archives: November 2015

  • Holidays: First Pass

    We had a pretty small gathering this year for Thanksgiving. Partly, I was scrambling around very last minute following a restless week prior in Taiwan. My god that visit was trying. Honestly, I don’t know why after all these years, I’m still so surprised by how frustrating my family is. ANYway, I guess I’m mostly recovered now, at least I’m back on the Pacific time zone. Truthfully, I was pretty annoyed by how little empathy I got from Bubbey while I was dealing with my daily family drama. Given he was exhausted back at home hustling with the new job and long commute and Marty’s health situation, but basically every time I talked to him, he just said I needed to learn to control my response to my mother. Never mind that she was annoying as fuck and def stepped over the line with her accusations, but fine. Chock it up to mental illness or whatever. After I returned, she called and thanked me for all the stuff I did. Yes, I’m still irritated that she makes helping her so goddamn frustrating, but in the end, I guess I’m supposed to just forget and forgive.

    The good news is that I made my turkey in the NuWave oven, and it came out great in less than four hours. Except that the only size turkey they had left at the store was an 18 pounder, and our three other guests were vegetarian. Meanwhile, Marty’s appetite is fluctuating daily like the wind. He doesn’t like chicken anymore, so we cooked up pork. That lasted for a day or two, and then he puked that up. Now, he seems to be eating the turkey off and on, coupled with getting the sub q fluids every few days. Yes, we’re back on that wagon again. I try to be all easy going and laid back about it: he’s probably 16 y/o now, so I no longer have the wool pulled over my eyes, but it’s still a stressor. We know the drill, and these are the few factors we’re willing to adjust until the end, but I can’t help but feel some kind of impending doom. Yup, clearly, New Attitude November was a burning success!! Haha. One more day, and then it’s December Doom. Shrug.

    Overall, Thanksgiving was good: J&J came over with the baby and then S joined later on. I have to say, things are different now that my close friends are parents. You can’t have real, in depth conversations anymore, bc they’re always distracted. I mean, that’s the thing about kids. They really are nonstop- there isn’t a moments’ rest. I don’t know how these people do it. As for S, she appears to be doing well. I guess it’s hard to ever really know. These days, more than ever, I feel like everyone is living behind a veil. We’re just too damn busy to peer into the troubles of others. Maybe I’m projecting. Regardless, work keeps her immensely busy, and Thanksgiving weekend is always one of her busiest times of the year, working in retail and all. She had work calls every four hours for status updates on the web traffic and mobile app. Yeah, maybe my job isn’t so bad. Sigh. (Throwing up my hands).

    The next day, K invited us over to her family’s annual day-after dinner party. Man, the Brady Bunch for realz. Serious party hosts: they had two super long tables plus table trays set up for every spot on the living room couch. I mean, there were a LOT of people: maybe 40? J and I had a good time: mostly we chatted with K and D. I brought a box of pineapple cakes from Taiwan, which her father promptly set out on the dessert table. Funny thing: who were the first people to eat up the cakes? None other than K’s brother-in-law and his fam– who are Chinese (maybe Taiwanese)!?! I mean, precisely the people who are already familiar with pineapple cakes. SMH. In the end, K’s parents didn’t even get to try them! My people, man. It still just blows my mind that K has dinner with her fam every single week. I have to say, it is so weird for me to observe joyous and interactive families. My family is so much the opposite. Sigh. It is what it is.

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  • Closing Time

    Just thirty more minutes until boarding. I called my father to report that I had gotten to the aiport fine and was gearing up to board. I told him I had gotten here way early, and he replied that it’s a good time for me to do my “homework.” See what I mean? Never a moment’s rest with that one. Thankfully for my own salvation, I checked my laptop with my bag, bc I’ll be damned if I do MORE fucking work.

    Interestingly, his response reminds me so much of college. Goddamn, every time I spoke to him, he would advise that I follow his process for academic success: 1) read the chapters before they are covered in class 2) focus during class 3) read the notes and chapters again after class. I swear, every fucking free moment was to be spent studying and preparing and getting ahead (which I was never able to do). In retrospect, I really wish I had just fucked off during college. All the stress and nervous breakdowns and obsessions and disappointment over my grades… those years are lost forever and in the end, they only reinforced awful, painful feelings of failure. Lost time. Almost 40 and I’m still losing time. I don’t know how to learn from these mistakes. Ah well, thoughts and regrets for another day.

    I’m thankful the return flight is only 11 hrs (instead of 14 hrs). That said, when I checked in, the seating chart looked damn packed. I’m crammed in the back, but hopefully, the middle seat will remain empty. Sigh. I’m so glad to be going home. Blue skies and a peaceful home with my babies.

    Btw, I gotta give a shout out to TPE Terminal 2. Wifi throughout plus a library, galleries, and lots of opps for window shopping. Well done, Taipei, well done. A def step up flying on China Airlines vs. United. T1 is pretty rundown and ghetto.

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  • Making it Out Alive

    For my last day in Taiwan, it seems befitting that I have arrived at the airport SIX hours ahead of my departure time. Yes, I let the nagger win, bc I was too damn exhausted to fight.

    Yesterday (Day 6) was actually a decent day: my aunts came over, and surprisingly, my mother agreed to leave the house and let the caretaker cook, clean, and chaperone my grandparents. We all rode the metro to the Cicao Sugar Fields, a touristy, historic preservation spot that used to be sugar plantations. The temps have been unusally hot lately even for this time of the year in Taiwan, but we managed to clock a few thousand steps walking around on some easy trails. Thank goodness for my youngest aunt: she’s the only one out of all my father’s siblings who appreciates the simple pleasures of life. She knows how to stay active plus maintain perspective and have some fucking fun. Everyone else is all about the struggle and suffering.

    After our short outing, we hit up Hansin department store, bc my father tasked my oldest aunt with buying a portable heater for my grandparents. I think it’s total overkill, but my father “over-cares” for his elders, and then his siblings are always ready to help him when he asks so it will just be done.

    Sometimes chores here seem so damn laborious though. I don’t know if it’s bc my aunts are low-tech or if Taiwan is inefficient. For example, dad wants to buy a heater similar to the one he bought my brother last year. I guess no one knows the brand, so we go to the store. They see what they want, but then they want to price check. Normally, I would just snap a pic of the model/brand and either 1) research online and maybe even buy/ship from online or 2) call around the area stores to see if the item is in stock and how much. Well, the way they do it here, they call their kids and ask them to go to the stores nearby to price check. WTF?!! Do you really need like four people to work on this task? And why can’t they just call the department store? I really don’t understand. I ask about the other methods of doing this research, but people just want to stick with their tried and true. So fine, buy the appliance the hard way. As it turns out, I called my oldest aunt twice today already, and both times she was out looking for this portable heater. Ridic. Then again, if everyone is retired, maybe this is the only way to get them out of the house? Who knows.

    In other news, my face is breaking out again. A big boil on my nose. Ugh, I really need to get home ASAP.

    That said, I did have a nice visit today with two of my younger cousins. They took us out to an Italian spot. It was tasty, and it was really nice to see them. Both cousins (they’re sisters) have young kids, and they are always so calm and patient. They drive like 4-5 hrs every other weekend to go home and visit their parents. Mind blown. And no one seems to mind sitting and hanging around with family. Sometimes I really wonder what the hell is wrong with me. Why do I have to get so angry and irritable, esp around my family? I dunno. I have issues.

    OMFG, it’s only 8p. I have so much time to kill. I am so tired. I guess I’ll go to the bathroom now and layer up for the flight. Maybe I’ll take off all the makeup and just get ready for bed. I’m pretty dang beat.

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  • TGIF

    I swear to god, I cannot take one more day of this bullshit Howard Hughes living. Last night for dinner we went to a shrimp restaurant in a more rural part of town. We sat outside, and I got two mosquito bites. When I get bitten by mosquitoes (which happens a lot), I get a lot of swelling and puffiness–almost like an allergic reaction. As it turns out, Taiwan is in the middle of a dengue fever situation, so my mother starts freaking out. Mind you, the restaurant immediately gave me some bug bite lotion to reduce the itching and swelling, but yeah I basically got a huge bump on my arm and one on my forehead. Well from the time I got home through the middle of the night through this morning (it’s 9a now), my mother has harassed and told me to put iodine on the bite like FIVE times. I don’t like iodine so I used neosporin instead, which I told her. No joke, I woke up at 4a in the morning to use the bathroom, and she’s on my case about it again. On her call with dad this morning, she tells him the bump on my forehead is the size of a pigeon egg. WTF??? Are you blind and dumb? So dad gets on the phone and starts telling me to put iodine on. Jesus fucking Christ. I’m almost 40 years old. Please fuck off, ok? I send him a goddamn selfie to further reiterate that the swelling has gone down, and I’m fine. ARGH!!!

    Meanwhile, my aunts are coming over today to take us out and about in KHH. They were even going to bring my paternal grandfather’s caretaker to watch my grandparents, so mom could come out with. Well, she doesn’t want to go. That’s what I’m saying: my parents have no earthly clue what it means to relax and have fun. Pretty much, she doesn’t want to leave the house for fear of dengue fever. In her defense, my father says the situation is actually endemic, and not some joke. Whatever. Put on some bug spray then.

    Seriously, it’s 9a on Day 6, and I have already lost my shit. Fuck man, is she retarded? Yesterday, on the drive to the veterans home, I swear she asked me five times where we were going. To the goddamn veterans home!!! Are you listening to my response to your questions or are these just rhetorical? I hypothesize this: bc of her decades of extreme catastrophic thinking, it has fried her brain! She is driving me nuts. My father keeps telling me to pipe down. Why are you overreacting and getting so angry? Uh, bc she fucking drives me insane, that’s why! She doesn’t listen, and she nags me to death. Am I supposed to enjoy repeating myself a gabillion times? First time or two, I’m able to keep my cool. I have even tried just pretending that I don’t hear her. The thing is, it’s ok to get confused. I’m not saying she has to be a genius, but fucking listen to the response. And then honor what we have decided or what people are telling you. I don’t want to use iodine on my face for the bug bite. I already used neosporin. Why do I have to keep fielding the same concerns?

    Before my trip, I read this NPR piece about culture clashing with immigrant parents. I read it thinking on this trip, I would try to handle things differently, more calmly. Uh, massive fail. Honestly, my relationship with my parents, particularly my mother, is THE most utterly frustrating experience I have ever encountered. And you KNOW I have a history of shitty dysfunctional job experiences that rank pretty damn high in terms of irritation.

    As for the article, I dunno. I mean, how many times do I tell my nagging parents, “It’s not your business.” I’ve probably said it three times on this trip alone. Some frustrations, like the overwhelming catastrophic thinking, are specific to my mother. But other things, like the marriage and kids obsession, really are cultural. Even yesterday as I sat in the salon chair, the hairdresser said I should have kids bc who will care for me when I’m old? Whenever I calm the hell down and retire to my room, I always wish our relationship were different: that I were better, more patient, more compassionate, and more forgiving; that they were less obsessive/perfectionist and more balanced. I wish they would just stop being neurotic and be relaxed and happy and adventurous. John says they will never change, but how can I be the only one expected to change? I try very hard to do right by them, but I dunno, somehow our visits always run a very similar course, ending in a major crash and burn. Sigh. I’m exhausted. I guess some things are just meant to be broken and irreparable forever.

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  • Chauffeur

    Another busy day for us here in humidity central. Today I drove my mother and her parents to a veterans center in Tainan. One of my cousins works there, and she invited us to a special anniversary celebration event on site, featuring a songstress who was super famous back in my parents’ days. When we arrived, my relatives were super impressed that I got my family there. SMH. Here’s the thing, people: driving is a very ordinary skill in the US. Sure, I have some barriers here in Taiwan, like illiteracy and unfamiliarity with the place, but seriously, it’s not that big a deal. The signage has romanized Chinese plus all the usual hwy/route numbers. And the night before I had asked Hong to show me the route on Google Maps. Btw, I have to say, despite my last feud with T-Mobile, the global data plan has saved my ass many times. The Google Maps with the moving blue dot is sooo money, bc when I miss an exit or turn, I can pretty much see the mistake immediately. If only I could mute my mother in the damn backseat. Holy fuck, there are few things more annoying than having someone who is directionally challenged and who does NOT drive nagging you the whole drive up. I took a lot of deep breaths today, that’s for fucking sure.

    So the concert was pretty low budget with wonky mics and shitty speakers. I felt like I was in a crappy ktv lounge or chintzy school auditorium. But I think my relatives enjoyed themselves. Those singers, man: fuck, they were old and yet still prancing around in thigh-high boots and mini-skirts. So very Madonna of them. That said, I gotta say, I admired their energy and sass and charisma! How the hell are they similar to my parents in age? Mind blown.




    For lunch we hit up a really tasty homestyle restaurant nearby. Delish. A lot of veggie dishes, which was a welcome respite from all the meat-laden meals we’d been eating. Afterwards, I was back behind the wheel headed to my paternal grandfather’s house down south. In Wulong, I spent two hours in the salon chair getting my hair trimmed and dyed. Same hairdresser as last time. Unfortunately, she didn’t have navy blue in stock for chunks so she did red highlights instead. It came out super subtle since I had gone all goth at home last month, but she says it will brighten over time. Fine, whatever. I’m just happy to sit in the chair with some fucking peace and quiet.

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  • Serenade

    Day 5. I’ve been doing a shit ton of work remotely. You know things are bad when your escape involves working remotely for a job you hate. Ah well, on the bright side, I like to get shit done. Shrug.

    My sleep schedule here is all kinds of fucked up. Yesterday, after we finally returned from the hospital at 6p, my cousin and I headed out again bc he was craving beef noodle soup like a goddamn addict. He’s not from KHH (airport code for Kaohsiung) so we ended up getting lost and driving around forever. I guess my mother conveniently forgot that she accused me of having an inappropriate relationship with this same exact cousin, bc she tasked us with running errands for her, i.e. buying grandpa a blood pressure monitoring machine and then a bunch of drinks for home.

    When we finally arrived at the noodle shop, my cousin ordered me the wrong damn thing, and my bowl was chock full of beef organ meat, including furry stomach and intestines! Needless to say, I ate around everything and just had the broth and noodles while he had a double heaping of yum. After that, we went searching for the goods my mom requested… I have to say, Taiwan reminds me a lot of China. Some chores that are super simple in the US just take forever here. For example, my cousin couldn’t figure out how to use the GPS in dad’s car, so he was fidgeting with his iPhone, and we STILL kept getting lost. And no, K, it wasn’t bc he was trying to prolong our romantic time together!! Long story short, the grocery store didn’t even have the special drink she wanted. Argh! We didn’t get home until 10p, and I was completely wiped.

    This morning, I was up early again, 4a. I did some more work. My grandfather had an appointment again at the hospital for an ultrasound. At least my mother had the sense to just take a cab. Mind you, the appointment was at 10a. Because she wasn’t exactly sure where the ultrasound would be performed, she insisted on leaving early. Just how early? They left at 8a, and the hospital is 30 min away. Grandma got dragged along again. I guess I should stop making it seem like she’s going against her will. Maybe she wants to be with my grandfather. I don’t know.

    By 9a I finally had the house to myself for the first time ever. The phone rang, and A-Hong’s mom said she’s coming down from Tainan. Something like she needs to deliver some special foods she bought for me. She also wants to meet the oldies at the hospital. I tell her they’ll probably be with the doctor; just come to the apartment and wait for them to get home. I’m telling you: this Confucian filial piety shit is no fucking joke. So much babying all around!! It is SUFFOCATING. At 10a, I finally leave the house. My go-to joint is the 7/11 downstairs. In my defense, the 7/11 has a lot of hot foods in addition to sushi rolls and bento boxes and soft serve ice cream. My mother wants paperclips (she has zero stationery supplies). No paperclips. I cross the street and head over to the park to just chill on a bench and drink my milk tea. Inhale, exhale. Thank goodness for some fucking solitude.


    Afterwards, I head back thinking my aunt will be arriving shortly. The phone rings, I pick up and the lady, thinking I’m my mother, starts asking me if I like to sing. I tell her, I’m my mother’s daughter. Turns out Mrs. Chen is one of many matchmakers my family uses (for my brother and for my other single cousins). She immediately starts advising me to have a son. No holds barred, man. I explain that I’m American, and I have a different cultural mindset. No kids for me. She persists… a baby girl or boy is fine. You can’t grow old alone! Jesus fucking Christ, people! I tell her that I’m too old. She tells me she knows someone who gave birth at 42. I redirect the conversation back to singing. My mother likes to sing, and actually, it would be great for my mother to get out of the damn house and do some hobbies. I mean, I’m not sure about being friends with a matchmaker, but whatevs. Desperate times, desperate measures. I ask Mrs. Chen where the karaoke spot is. She sings in her house. Her daughter hooked her up with old school Mandarin and Taiwanese songs on the computer. Then, she offers to sing me a song!!! WTF?? Yup, so she blasts it through her speakers and I get serenaded with a Taiwanese song that I don’t understand. What can you do: Mrs. Chen is 80 years old. She’s like a honey badger: she don’t give a fuck. I mean, you gotta give her props for that, right?

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  • Hospital Arrest

    Day 4. As you know, I frickin’ yelled my head off at mom early this morning, at about 8a. My mother later tried to backtrack on some of the things she said to me, maybe in some lame attempt to lessen the blow of her offensive comments. Whatever. Then she said something like she’s never said anything critical about my relationship with John, but that’s total bullshit. How easily she rewrites history. Just say you’re sorry, and shut the hell up. You’re only digging the hole deeper and deeper.

    By 9a, dad called again from the US, and he’s a health fanatic. He is worried that my grandfather’s swelling in his feet is indicative of something more serious… a heart condition or whatever. So, he asked me to take Yebbie to the veteran’s hospital for a same day appointment. Once again, mom insisted that the whole damn family go along, “in case Nai Nai falls and is home alone.” Uh, you do realize that you yourself are not monitoring Nai Nai 24/7? What happens at night when she gets up to use the bathroom… it’s not as if you are awake in case she were to fall. Stupid logic. I say this bc all my grandmother really does is sleep, and she’s not very mobile. So shuttling around my grandmother and grandfather is not exactly streamlined. I drive them to the hospital.

    Another session with the backseat driver. She keeps insisting I turn at the intersection. I tell her I’m driving through it and then taking a right on a small alleyway instead. Freak out again: “You missed it; we passed it!” Pipe the hell down. A minute later, we are at the hospital parking lot. I pull up out front to drop them off at the door. Wait for me by the door while I park. I get inside, and my mom has already left. I then take my grandparents from the main building to the outpaitient building. It’s a long walk, so we stop halfway. I don’t know where exactly my mother is, so I tell them to wait while I find her first. I go, find her, then realize you can rent a wheelchair. I get one, go back, and my grandparents are gone. WTF, people?????? So then, I’m pushing around this empty chair back to the Main Building then the other way back down to my mom. Finally, I find them. Jesus Christ. We get a number for the cardiologist. We are number 59. The lady estimates 1p. We arrived at the hospital at 9:30a. It is now 4:45p, and they are only on 56. Holy fucking mother of God. I suggested to my mother that we go home midday and come back. No. Wow, I’m sure glad I stayed in the hospital all damn day just waiting. On the positive side (new attitude November and all), fortunately the hospital has a ton of services. I managed to purchase maps and stationery at the bookstore; I mailed the Medicare forms to my dad at the post office; I hit up the 7/11 for some food and drinks; I browsed some clothing at one of the shops; I bought a bath scale and gloves for home. My dad wants Yebbie to weigh himself every damn day. My dad is hardcore about diet and weight. Meanwhile, has he even used the fancy elliptical I bought? Nope.

    In other news, Marty is back to getting subq fluids every day. John finally stepped up and administered the fluids this evening. The urinalysis from Thursday night came back negative, so the vet thinks the newest symptoms are either kidney disease related or something else. Bubbey is giving him some appetite stimulant meds, and he’s eating at least once a day. Man, I was just saying it would be easier to find a sitter for Martin over Christmas now that he is low maintenance. Looks like I spoke too soon.

    Number 57…. seven hours and waiting. It’s been a long ass day, especially since I’ve been up since 2a. I’m so glad I blow vacation days every year for this special time with my family. Oh, I also got an email from my brother today, urging me to reconsider an opportunity to meet his master, a “living Buddha.” I will say, this email didn’t anger me as much as his messages from the past. I suppose other people (not my mom, obviously) are learning to adjust their communication style so as to avoid my wrath. That said, no thank you.

    Ok, finally! Yebbie’s number is up. All it took was 8 hours! Hopefully, he’ll be done soon. My cousin is coming over tonight to stay with us a few days bc his work sent him to training in Kaohsiung. Hopefully, my mother doesn’t act like a dumbass given our incident earlier today. Fucking A. I may need to admit myself into an asylum after this trip. Truthfully, it’s probably not that different than going back to work. Saturday return. Monday back in the office. I’m such a goddamn martyr.

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  • Mom vs. Work: I Choose Work


    Surprise, surprise, it’s Day 4 in the middle of the fucking night here, and I am full-on livid. My mother drives me goddamn insane. Let’s start from the beginning, bc I know you care. First order of the day was to set up a new bank account for my maternal grandfather. The other night, when J and I took mom walking in the vicinity, we came across a bank. It was on the north side of the park. Yesterday evening, when my mother told my dad we were going to the bank, he probably spent 30 minutes trying to give her directions on where the bank was. Finally, I told him to stop micromanaging everything and that we would get her to the bank.

    So this morning, my mother is insistent that she knows where the bank is. My 90+ year-old grandfather comes along. We get outside, and I tell her I’m pretty sure it’s on the north end. No, no, no, she knows where it is. So we walk all along the south end of the park– a pretty good distance in the humid, muggy heat. Guess what. The bank is in the northeast corner. I mean, sure, we’re allowed to make mistakes bc that’s part of the growth mindset. Just uh, if you are so goddamn insistent and my grandfather is hobbling along, can you please be sure you’re right? Fine. At the bank, everything takes for fricking ever. Flashback to my days in China…

    We finally are done and head back. We stop by the 7/11 downstairs to get lunch bento boxes. I’m already exhausted. While everyone sleeps, I go out and explore around: buy some stamps for mom and some soft serve ice cream she’s been talking about. In the afternoon, I take my mother to Costco, which is down the road. Again, she tries to be the backseat driver even though I tell her I read the map and know how to go. Pretty much every other turn, she advises the opposite direction of what I’m supposed to do. I just ignore her.

    Costco appears pretty similar to the US version. Everything is at least $10 USD. We get home, and the oldies are famished. I can’t get food on the table fast enough for them. God, is this the hustle involved with feeding a family? By 7p, I am fucking exhausted again. Throughout the day and night, calls come in: from my dad, from two aunts, from my cousin… back and forth. Logistical shit about groceries and the required paperwork for my grandfather’s health insurance here. Blah, blah, blah. It’s kinda like my dad is the CEO and then all the relatives are his employees getting shit done. It’s too damn much. Again, this is why people like my mother and brother are unable to do shit on their own, bc they are constantly babied. My father argues that there’s an efficient way to do things. Well, I don’t want to be involved in every fucking detail, so let people get things wrong so they can learn it themselves. This dichotomy in philosophy has been a point of contention between myself and my family since the very beginning. I’m all about efficiency, but fuck man, I’m also about self-sufficiency, empowerment, and independence.

    Other logistical debates center around money and currency exchange and depositing money. Old people: sometimes they are distrustful of banks. Long story short, 8p rolls around and I am beaten down. I go to bed. Then, at 2a, I awake. Do some work: guidance to a student intern who’s creating a video. Then my mother wakes and tells me my fav cousin, Hong is dating a new lady. My family is hyper gossipy and is always obsessing about the single folks getting married… I don’t want to get involved and say just that. Then, my mother asks me if I like my cousin!!! And she isn’t meaning as a friend. I about lose my shit. “What are you talking about? We’re close cousins. Yes, I like him.” WTF???? Then she says, I seem unhappy that he has found someone. I tell her that I haven’t even spoken to him at length about anything, so I don’t know what his situation is. “Oh well, you should ask him.” It’s like look: people can be single. You don’t have to harass them about their status all the fucking time. Maybe they are ok with it. If not, your added pressure does NOT help. And second, I’m not going to fall into your bullshit gossip circle. If I talk to him and he mentions it, then I’ll listen. What, bc I don’t immediately jump for joy about him possibly having an interest (whom we’re not even sure he likes), then I’m interested in him? Then she says all this shit about my marriage and that I need to support it. OMFG, are you kidding me? You, who practically has a parent-child relationship with your spouse, are giving me marriage advice? LI-VID.

    Here’s the thing: I know some people are not on board about me having guy friends whom I’ll stay with overnight. I know that’s sometimes a difficult or counterintuitive concept, and people are doubtful or suspicious or whatever. It’s an old question of whether platonic opposite-sex relationships are legit. Whatever. The thing is, though, at the end of the day, it’s MY BUSINESS. And then for her to suggest something inappropriate with my COUSIN??? I’m completely enraged. It just adds to her overall cluelessness about everything! Part of me wanted to be sarcastic and say, “Yes mom. I’m having an affair with my cousin.” But she gets confused easily, so I just said, “Yes, we are close friends. Just bc we’re close doesn’t mean we are having a sexual relationship.” I am sickened that I even have to spell this out. Do you see what I mean? Does she even KNOW her own daughter?

    I tried to calm myself down by thinking about my friends who have made comments before about my friendships with guy friends. They ask and want to know. Why do I have the patience to explain to them, and yet when my mother asks, it’s an absolute outrage? I don’t know. I feel like I explain to my friends, and then it’s done. With my mom, she responds by saying all this extra crap like, “I just want you to treasure your marriage. I say all these things bc I care about you.” Fucking bullshit. You just worry about what other people think. And you yourself have watched way too many soap operas.

    Whatever, then the conversation evolves into trying to pressure me re: the amount of money I’m gifting. She says that I need to save money for myself, bc I don’t have kids and none of my nieces and nephews will care for me when I’m old. I really don’t give two fucks about getting old. I don’t want my nieces and nephews to take care of me. I really feel like once I get to that point, I’ll be ok with assisted suicide or whatever. Anyway, round and round. Like I said, she’s paranoid and neurotic. I told her our finances are fine, and I’m going to leave my job soon. I don’t want her calling me every damn day harassing me about my job status. Yup, in my fit of rage, I forgot my plan to just leave my job decision secret. I was going to pretend like I was still working… Oh well. Gone down the drain.

    Clearly, I cannot stand how fucking polar opposite we are. I told her that I don’t live my life with all that distrust of people and debilitating fear, so I am not going to take any of her advice bc it does NOT apply to me. I swear to god, she misreads EVERYTHING. I didn’t show curiosity/interest in my cousin’s dating life so automatically that means I’m jealous bc I want him for myself???? ARGH!! She is CRAZY!

    After she finally left me the fuck alone, I just sat in the dark trying to pipe down. I wanted to call Bubbey but he’s at work bc it’s midday in California now. I keep thinking to myself: she’s mental. Can you fault people who are sick or ill? They can’t help it. But holy fuck, sometimes I HATE HER! I know I sound like a freaking high schooler slamming doors and stomping my feet, but why is she is so frustrating? What is the right way to cope with her? Like the cousin scenario. Was I supposed to just calmly reply. No, Mom. I do not have the hots for my cousin. I’m thrilled that the aunts set him up (matchmaking is big here) with a suitable person. Maybe he can finally settle down and have a family. More grandkids for my uncle and aunt. Yay!! SMH.

    Then all day she’s been bitching about her mobile phone. It’s not the most user-friendly, that’s for sure, but all she needs to know is how to answer, hang up, check missed calls, and dial. Well in Taiwan, there are a shit ton of spam text messages. The messages are purportedly from Taiwan Mobile, saying you haven’t paid your bill. So she’s freaking out. I told her to call and ask the company. Of course, in my family’s typical fashion of over complicating EVERYTHING, it’s registered under my aunt’s name (hand holding central!) so she can’t get into the account. Blah, blah. Last time this happened, my aunt called, and the rep said the messages are spam. Well, clearly mom doesn’t accept that answer, and she insists something is wrong. I tell her that tomorrow we’ll go visit my paternal grandfather and then she can go to the store who set it up for my aunt and show them the messages. She wants ME to go. Meanwhile, I can’t read and I only know conversational level Chinese. WTF. I’m not going to solve your problem for you. I will drive you there and go with you, but I’m not going to be your messenger. She says she doesn’t know the terminology and the technology. Well, neither do I.

    I can’t fucking do this. Why can’t she just be a normal fucking person?

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  • My Worst Self

    It’s been a while since I’ve flown on China Airlines. I was totally expecting an airplane packed with Taiwanese people, but as it turns out, the flight was code shared with a gabillion other airlines, including Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Here I was bitchin’ about the nearly 14-hr flight, and for so many other passengers, there was way MORE to go! Eek!

    I landed in Taipei around 6a on Saturday morning. After I refreshed in the airport bathroom and made myself presentable, I hitched a bus to the high-speed train to the metro, and then walked in the god-awful heat and humidity to my parents’ apartment. I cannot tell you how many times in the weeks leading up to my trip my parents kept giving me directions (some of which was wrong!). Um, I can look shit up on the internet. Also, dad kept wanting my aunt to meet me at the train station to show me the way home. Jesus-fucking Christ. I’m almost 40 y/o: I can use maps, read romanized Chinese signs, and speak Mandarin. I’m fine!! So I showed up at the door, and mom acted like it was a goddamn miracle.

    As an added welcome bonus, my brother J was already at the apartment. He had come down from Taipei to Kaohsiung the night before. My family is always force-feeding relationships. Interestingly, he was decently tolerable and seemed actually helpful/caring with my maternal grandparents. Maybe times HAVE changed.

    Man, dad had been complaining about Yebbie (maternal grandfather) getting fat, but I thought he was just overreacting. Nope, Yebbie is indeed quite rotund! What a difference from last May when he was hospitalized after his fall. He and Nai Nai look ok though. They were plopped in front of the tv with the volume at super high decibel, but it was good to see them.

    I settled in, took a shower, and then got out all the medical forms my dad asked me to bring over. Immediately, mom started insisting that I have my grandparents practice writing their sigs, bc sometimes they’ll sign outside of the box or whatever. Huh? I gave them the form and pointed exactly to where they needed to sign. Done. On the first try. Mom was all surprised. Holy fuck, she’s needlessly obsessive and cautious. I tried to talk to my grandparents a bit, but either they were distracted by the shouting tv, or they just didn’t have much to say. In that sense, it wasn’t so bad having my brother to talk to, even if we talked about re-incarnation. The thing about J: He’s a very personable, smart guy who can make topics like re-incarnation sound totally legit and academic. Maybe all that thespian training. Since joining his religious cult, as I call it, he’s been getting into all of that meditation, positive psychology shit… which I have also explored, but independent of religion. Kinda weird to have some overlap there. Then again, I haven’t exactly implemented what I know about positive thinking… I dunno. Maybe there’s hope with mending that relationship. Not sure.

    At lunch time, we all walked to a nearby noodle shop.  It took about ten minutes just to leave the apartment, bc mom had to shut all the windows, lock her bedroom door, and check on the stove for the fifth time. OMG, borderline Howard Hughes. After we returned home, I conked out in the afternoon. In the evening, J and I took mom for a walk just in the surrounding blocks. Mom doesn’t get out much, thanks to years of full-blown codependence on my dad. With dad back in Maryland for several months, I think she just stays at home cooking and cleaning. My aunts actually come twice a week to bring groceries and visit! I mean, clearly I’m judging bc I think it’s ridiculous to get to this point where you are fully able-bodied, and yet you convince yourself that you’re paralyzed. This just furthers my case against this culture of filial piety and being overly hospitable/helpful: people become stupid and incompetent, bc they are never allowed to try things on their own. There is so much goddamn hand-holding!

    On Sunday, my paternal grandfather in Wulong (30 minutes south) invited the family for lunch at a fancy sushi restaurant. My father got all involved, and he wanted my aunt to drive 45 min from her house so I could follow her back to Wulong. Dad, I HAVE GOOGLE MAPS!!! Finally, they let us drive unchaperoned. Google maps estimated 45 minutes, so I planned for a 10:30a departure. At 9a, I went down to the building gym with Yebbie, and my mom started harassing me that we don’t have time bc I’ve never driven in Taiwan and we need to go early just in case. I ignored her and continued. At 9:45a, she came down all frantic bc we’re going to get lost and arrive late and people will be kept waiting, blah, blah, blah. Fucking full-blown neuroses!! Fine, we’ll leave ridiculously early. Again, ten minutes to leave the damn house, bc she has to check everything. We get in the car, and immediately, she (who hasn’t driven in five years) starts being a backseat driver even though we’ve already established that my brother knows the way AND he is holding the map. On the drive there, for every conversation I’m having with my brother, my mother answers for him and interrupts. She has THE worst social skills: she doesn’t listen, she inserts herself into other people’s conversations, she cuts people off… zero self-awareness. When we bring it up to her, denial and excuses. She says no one has ever complained to her. She’s an only child, blah, blah. An entire car drive full of friction and aggravation. I wanted to pull over and kick her out of the car, she pisses me off so badly. And wowee, look at that: we arrived without any incident! What a surprise. And guess what else: everyone else was late! SMH.

    God help me for Day 3.



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  • Hanging with my Homie

    After my time in NYC, I rode the MegaBus (first time ever) up to Boston. I mean, sure the reviews on Yelp are super hit or miss. The thing is, the trip was $13 (vs. about $100 on Amtrak), so you know cheapie cheaps had to try. Well fuck. I even paid the extra $3 for an upgrade to a seat at a table and shit, it was still crammed as hell. I would say, even more crammed than an airplane seat. Then, because I hustled out of the last conference session and walked several blocks to the bus station, I neglected to buy some water. Needless to say, a few minutes in to the ride, I started feeling super nauseous, you know, with the pre-puke juices flooding in my mouth. It was bad fucking news, man. Thankfully, I was able to conk out and forget that my body was dehydrated. It was also a bit uncomfortable being in such close quarters with strangers. I mean, the lady next to me kept showing pics of her two sons on her phone. I was just trying to not puke, you know?

    Once I got to Boston though, things were all good. It was just so nice to reconnect with my college bud J. We met in 1995 (pre-Bubbey), and there is just something so comforting about really old friendships. I mean, those bonds form during such a transformative time… there just really is something to be said for proximity, vulnerability, and shared experiences. We had a really great time. I mean, we’re both miserable in our jobs so that doesn’t help, but talking to J was a good reminder for me: we are so much more than our jobs. I mean, I get so obsessed about figuring out my work life and career that I forgot about who I am beyond that. And certainly, shame on me for letting myself go, for letting myself get so burned out that I don’t even have hobbies and interests anymore. Shame on me.

    That said, workaholism is real. The first day, J didn’t take off of work (surprise, surprise). Hubby J was so stunned. Me? Not so much. I spent the day exploring Boston on my own, clocking 20k steps. It was actually really nice to walk around and not have to talk to anyone all day. Hmm, does that mean I am an introvert then? The quiet was fucking nice. Boston is so pretty this time of year with the changing fall colors, and fortunately, the temps were unseasonably warm so I really scored the best of everything! Saturday was Halloween. J introduced me to a “friend” of his. She reminded me a lot of my former coworkers: uber treehuggery and shit. But she did wetlands protection work, and it kinda made me think about going back into environmental engineering. Anyway, I was really impressed by her: she’s a few years older, single, but goddamn, living life to the fullest, being super active and energetic. She was telling me how obsessed she is with Travelzoo and Groupon. In fact, she had just booked a trip to Africa in two weeks. She was like, I’m not married; I don’t have kids; I have tons of vacation, and I have lots of single friends who love to travel. Wow. Who does that? Seriously, who buys and then goes in TWO WEEKS? So Halloween night, we went on a guided tour through downtown Boston, with lots of historical tales of scandal and such. We went through the uber posh neighborhood of Beacon Hill (walked past John Kerry’s house) where they actually do a cool family friendly neighborhood street party. I mean, I’m anti-kid but shit, I will choose strollers and cute kiddie costumes over NYC Halloween raunch any day. I saw a very old white-faced beagle in a hot dog costume. So damn cute.

    On Sunday, I slept in and then we headed across the bridge to Seaport (or Seaside). The day was dreary and cloudy– unusual for my trip but typical for Boston–but we had a delicious lobster roll. I love me some lobster rolls. We chilled, chatted in the car, and then off to the airport. I gotta say, that $100 for Global Entry (with TSA Pre included) for multiple years is so money. No removing the laptop or toiletries or boots or anything. Through security in no time.

    Of course, the flight home hit all kinds of snags. A no nonsense direct flight from BOS – SJC ended up taking off late, taking a detour to Salt Lake City for refueling, and arriving three hours late on a super bumpy ride. Still, the respite was a welcome one. Now J and I have bets on who’s leaving the job sooner. I’m pretty damn sure I’m winning that one.

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