Friday, November 30, 2007

My new hobby

It's terribly addicting. You really can't stop playing. I like this game because it refreshes my rusty world geography.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


A bit stressed this past week. Aside from running and going to gym, I find happiness in pictures of animals. I don't condone overfeeding your pets, but I came across this story of a really fat cat in China. I saved a jpeg from the clip, and every now and then look at it for some chuckles.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Waiting for my real life...

I first heard this song last year, and was immediately drawn to it. Perhaps it was my emotional state at the time. I’d been in Wyoming for over a year and was beginning to really acclimate to my environment – meeting new friends, establishing new relationships but also looking forward to the next step in my career. Work was stressful as ever, but I was happy, excited about what was on the horizon in my personal and professional life.

I started listening to this song again the week before I left Wyoming. This time around, it was my move that was stressful, but I was happy…and sad. Suffice to say, it was on repeat on my iPod.

The song popped up again, this time on the night before my 16-hour drive back to San Francisco. My friend and I had been sitting in his car for hours talking and listening to music. I found this song on his iPod. We sat there, silent, listening to the song. I assessed my life from the moment I first heard Colin Hay’s song to the present, and knew much had changed. I was moving and saying good-bye to Casper, to my friends. My “wait for my real life to begin” was coming to an end.

During my stay in Wyoming, I met people from other states who said living in Wyoming was like living on another planet, that their lives were put on hold. For me, my 2.5-plus years in Casper weren’t inconsequential. I experienced some real living and emotions –intimacy, elation, hurt – in Wyoming. I never put my life on hold. I may wait for the next chapter in my life, but I’ve waited all my life – and will wait – for my real life to continue: Real life, parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, ad infinitum.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

My beautiful cousins

I spent today hanging out with my uncle, aunt and cousins. I haven't seen them since last Christmas. The little one is Jamie (she turns 2 next week!) and Jan is 18. Jamie was so good at dinner tonight, she ate all by herself and she even made time to blow kisses to everyone. She's excited about her birthday party next week, she's even singing -- well half singing -- "Happy Birthday." It was a great afternoon/evening watching everyone together again, eating and laughing.

Some holiday cheer

I have to thank Marj for sharing this link with me. I plugged some of my friends into it, and it's hilarious.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Shadow and Guinness

Thanksgiving at Kit's

Here are some pictures of Thanksgiving dinner. I'm in love with my sister's dogs. Shadow is 11 and is German Shorthair/ Black Lab, Guinness is 2 and a Siberian Husky. They kept us company during dinner. Shadow ate a lot, and he salivated as he watch my sister carve the turkey. Both Shadow and Guinness enjoy pumpkin pie and Haagen-Daz Light and Creamy Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. (A very delicious ice cream for humans and dogs.) I lunched and nibbled on leftovers all day. I'm craving more turkey, and I'm looking forward to more on Christmas. I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanskgiving.

Thursday, November 22, 2007 you celebrate Thanksgiving?

I'm an ABC. American Born Chinese. I was the first person in my family to be born in the United States. And growing up American with traditional Chinese parents was hard at times. There were awkward moments in school when classmates talked about their Thanksgiving plans and dishes. Here I was, the Chinese girl who had Thanksgiving dinner at a Chinese restaurant. Instead of a table lined with runners and centerpieces, ours was lined with newspaper and mismatch chipped rice bowls. I didn’t understand why we were different, or in the mind of an adolescent, “weird.”
We did cook a turkey, and I think my parents did that for my siblings and me so we could experience a western holiday. I still get emotional thinking about how much my parents did to let us experience what everyone around was experiencing. It’s easy for me to say now that food doesn’t make Thanksgiving, but I’m pretty sure as a kid, I wasn’t that understanding.

As a kid, I thought turkey=Thanksgiving. To sum up Peppermint Pattie: "You can't have Thanksgiving without turkey." And when I told people that our family ate turkey and apple pie, they were surprised. It's funny, how in 2007, there are still some people who, when I say I'm eating Thanksgiving dinner, look at me funnily and ask the question that I dread the most. This is from a recent conversation.

Person: "So, Thanksgiving dinner. are you guys going to eat....(pause)

Me: "Yes, we're going to eat."

Person: "Do you guys celebrate Thanksgiving? Do you eat like, regular stuff?"

Me: "Yes, turkey and all the sides and desserts."

Person: "Wow. Outstanding."

I wanted to share a Thanksgiving column I wrote back in 2005 for AsianWeek. It's pretty self-explanatory. I hope you enjoy it.

Have Yourself a Feast of Good Feelings, November 25, 2005

You can be guaranteed satisfaction if you make the best of every situation. Granted, it can be somewhat difficult when it all seems like Murphy’s Law is working overtime just for you. But over the years, I’ve learned to try and live by what my father says is one of the keys to living a happy life: Being thankful for what you have also goes along with making the best of every situation.

My first Thanksgiving away from home was when I was living in New York City during graduate school. My roommate and I decided to cook Thanksgiving together in our apartment in Morningside Heights. We ended up cooking a fabulous feast for two.

Let me rewind just a bit. I wouldn’t say that my family celebrated Thanksgiving like other American families celebrated the holiday. So not being home for Thanksgiving wasn’t such a big deal for me.

Up until we closed our Chinese restaurant, we were open every Thanksgiving. And yes, we would get several orders. But most of the time my dad would cook up some rice and chow mein for the cop that worked the night shift, or the family that didn’t have quite enough for a turkey that year.

My dad would marinate a turkey the night before (using Asian ingredients), my mom would buy potatoes, sweet potatoes, bread and Jell-O. Every year I’d make orange and strawberry Jell-O. Sometimes we’d invite our uncles and aunts, but most of the time Thanksgiving was a day I got a chance to help my dad clean the restaurant. Of course, I was happy that I didn’t have to go to school for two days, but what I was most happy about was that my dad could sleep in a few more hours.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving in New York with my roommate: Although I missed being with my family, I knew they were a phone call away. The following Thanksgiving, I spent away from family as well. This time, it was more than 5,000 miles away.

I was living in Sichuan, China. Two months had past since the 9/11 attacks, and though my friends and I were coping with being away from family and friends who were in New York, we were also trying to make the best of our situation.

Here we were, four young Americans at a communist boarding school, teaching thousands of Chinese students the words to “Over the River.” My headmaster told us to spend a week teaching students about pilgrims, Native Americans and Thanksgiving.

The day before Thanksgiving, I went to the school cafeteria early and asked the cooks if they could prepare something special for the teachers. I knew my friends were homesick with 9/11 still heavy on their minds.

In between my broken Mandarin and gesticulations, I gave a brief history of Thanksgiving and what Americans ate on this day. In Chinese, gan en jie means Thanksgiving. The cooks had smiles and confused looks on their faces when I told them about bread stuffed in turkey and cranberry sauce. The staff was obliging and, though they couldn’t find a turkey, they gave us lunch for which we were all thankful and grateful.

We ate in the cafeteria with the rest of the students, and our table was filled with steaming plates of food. We had steamed chicken, roast duck, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cabbage, rice and man tou (Chinese steamed bread). We were all moved and we all said our thanks before the meal.

The mashed potatoes weren’t made with butter and milk, but with Sichuan peppercorns and lard. The pumpkin wasn't pureed but cubed and cooked in a sugar syrup, and the chicken and duck were both served with their head and feet intact.

With tears in our eyes, we began our Thanksgiving feast with chopsticks in hand. It was probably one of the best and unforgettable meals I’ve ever had. It’s not the food that makes Thanksgiving, it’s the feeling of gratitude and humility.

Tryptophan and Tears

Today was a minimally stress-free day. Yes, it's Thanksgiving, but for the first time in three years, I wasn't stomaching the stress of fighting crazy airports and five pounds of mashed potatoes. This year, I didn't have to fly home for dinner. We spent it at my sister's. On the menu: two brined Diestel turkeys, stuffing, mashed potatoes, potato salad, cornbread and plenty of sweet fare (I made lemon bars, apple cobbler, pumpkin pie from scratch and cornbread.)

After an early dinner with my sister's dogs, Shadow and Guinness, begging at the table, we went for a nice stroll near Ocean Beach. I knew the turkey was kicking in on the drive home from my sister's. I was ready to call it night, when I remembered that it was Thursday night and Grey's was on. I was never really a Grey's fan, but I started watching this season and am a bit hooked. It wasn't that I hated Grey's, it was because my work schedule precluded me from watching the show.

I thought the producers of the show would play a re-run of some past holiday show, but it was a new episode. And in all its Grey's glory it managed to get the waterworks going. I don't know if it was the level of tryptophan in my system, but I cried at almost every scene that didn't include jokes or a happy relationship moment. Some of tonight's themes included: A black surgeon and Asian surgeon having to operate on a white supremicist and two paramedics trapped in a car dying, but trying to save each other's lives. It was an evening of tryptophan and tears.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Huan Yin

Welcome to my first post on my "personal blog." I created another blog a few years back that had to do with food. I called it "xiao chi" which means "little bites" in Chinese. I've been really bad at keeping up with my posts, since I haven't posted in several years. But I'm starting a new blog and I hope to maintain my food blog as well.

I was living in Casper, Wyoming for the past 2.5-plus years for work. I'm kicking myself for not blogging about my experiences there, but I'm sure I'll reminisce about my Wild West experiences here.