Friday, July 31, 2009

After Summer Camp

Before Alan was diagnosed, our lives had a smooth, uninterruptible rythm. During the week we would go to work, in the evenings we would eat dinner, on the weekends we would go hiking and in between all of that there would be the Griping. The consistent, familiar Griping.

"We need to go to the store," I'd say.

"Oh, but why? We went to the store 2 weeks ago," he would say.

"Yes, but we can't live off these 7 grains of rice forever, and someone ate all the Lucky Charms. Besides, there's only one packet of McDonald's ketchup left and I've already called dibs on it, so what are you going to eat your rice with?"


"Wow, what is that smell?" Alan would ask, his face alarmed.

"I dunno. The dishes, it's probably the dishes," I'd say.

"We've got to fix that," he'd say.

"Yeah, you should wash those dishes," I'd dipolomatically suggest, "They've been there since you ate all the Lucky Charms."

"Those aren't all mine," he'd respond before dissapearing.

A moment later he'd return with a big, triumphant smile plastered on, "I know, I'm going to spray this room smell stuff." (As if that would fix the problem).

When he was in the hospital for the past 2 months, our roles changed and the Griping stopped. I began talking in a lighter tone of voice (everything is fine! everything is going to be a-OK!), except when I was tired and when I wished he could be out of the hospital already so we could go out and have some fun (Geez, you'd think he had cancer or something!). Alan had taken on the role of being sick and I had taken to asking him how he felt. (Was the stomach pain the same kind of pain he felt yesterday or something different? Did it feel ok when he walked around? Maybe could he try doing some leg exercises while lying in bed?) So in that sense, there was still some consistency to the day -- I would go to work, eat dinner by his hospital bed and then fret. But instead of responding in an all together predictable way, he often times did not. Sometimes I'd get to the hospital and he'd be so tired he wouldn't be able to stay awake. Sometimes he would have a tube in his nose, sucking out fluids from his bowels. Sometimes he would be delirious. I never knew and the not knowing what was going to happen on any given day was maddening.

Because I am a person who enjoys needs comfortable routine, I started my own routines outside of the hospital. Like listening to the same CD for the past month. And lingering for as long as possible at DJ Tanner's house. Because they are cute, (look how cute they are!) but also because they are so familiar and comfortable. I didn't know exactly what it was about them that put me at so much ease until this week. We were driving back to their house after getting fro-yo and they were talking about what dish to bring to Justin's family reunion. Denise started talking about how they should serve it, and Justin agreed it was a good idea. As he started repeating back to her what he thought she was saying, she informed him that that was not what she was saying at all. She tried explaining once more. Then he tried. And again, they both could not understand what the other was trying to say. Then I jumped in to tell them that they had had this same conversation 2 or 3 months before -- the same exact conversation. It's the sameness, the familiarity, the feeling that we've talked about this before --it's sort of Twilight Zone-esque, but I love it. Good ol' Griping warms my soul.

Now that Alan is back at home, we've dropped the whole hospital act -- the whole talking in shushed voices, me sitting gingerly on his bed, him looking all lost and forlorn. It's like I've come home to discover my best friend has returned from an awful trip to summer camp (not the fun kind kids are always going to in movies). And I have so much to show him.

I want him to listen to my favorite songs on the CD Roy made me. The one I've been listening to non-stop since my trip to L.A. in June. I want to go to the movies. I want to see Away We Go before Away It Goes. I want to go to In N Out. I want to walk around the lake. I want to go buy things, pretty things, any thing. I want to indulge. I want to go to Miami. I want to be where it's warm and where the water's see-through blue. I want to live for the rest of summer wearing just my bathing suit, floating around in bodies of water. I want Alan to be happy, to want to do all this and more. Except I keep forgetting just because he's wearing pants now and a top with an actual back that he didn't just return from camp and that he can't exactly go hike a mountain just yet... So we'll have to keep taking it one day at a time. But until that vacation to the see-through blue, we can at least enjoy a few of my favorite songs of the moment.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Never Again, Hopefully

Under normal circumstances, saying, "Goodbye, I hope I never see you again" to someone just as you're leaving would be an incredibly off putting thing to say. But it was something that I found myself saying to all the familiar nurses we passed this evening as we wheeled Alan down the hospital hallway. I hope they didn't take it the wrong way; some of them were really nice people. It's just that Alan's finally been released (!), and I really hope we never do see them again (at least in that hospital in this lifetime). I had planned a longer post, but I think I'll have to save it for tomorrow. We're going to watch a movie now (without the distraction of any roommates watching Cops and all that goodness). :D

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Gaudi Mug

Irene recently went to Europe and not only did she mail me postcards throughout her trip (which I loved), she was also so kind as to bring me back a Gaudi mug from Barcelona. I love the colors, the fact that the inside is orange and the multi purpose spoon that can take care of itself. It totally solves that problem after you mix your milk and sugar into your coffee and you can't find a place to put your spoon. It's pure genius.

When I unwrapped it, she beamed at me. I think she was waiting for me to say, "Oh cool! It's from Barcelona!" because that's what she thought it said on the handle. But actually what I said was, "Oh cool! Where's it from?" because it actually did not say anything on the handle or anywhere around it. It wasn't until I flipped it over that I saw it said "Antoni Gaudi 1852-1926." I may have only gotten a C+ in Chinese Art History class (even when I signed up for it because I thought it would be an easy A), but even I knew that that was probably an artist name and that time period the length of time he had toiled away on my mug. Irene said, "You don't know Gaudi??" And all I could think was, "I must forever cherish this mug which Irene has brought back for me, made by this man Gaudi who worked for so many years to finish it."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

No Rinse Shampoo

The other day I was laying next to Alan in his hospital bed and was getting lost in the scenery outside. We were up on the fourth floor and from that vantage point, all I could see outside were tall, towering trees and a sky lit up purple, pink, yellow and orange. If I just focused on the view, I could almost pretend that we were vacationing in a lodge somewhere. I was reading Zeitoun, he was reading nerdy WoW forums, both of us relaxed and quiet. Except for the incessant beeping around us, everything was still. I was waiting for someone to ring a tinkling bell to call us into the grand dining room for dinner when something brought my attention back. It smelled like In N Out. What was that smell? I sat up and looked to my left, a table of Ensures. I looked to my right, an IV stand of fake food dripping into Alan's veins. Where is it coming from? I sat back and inhaled a few times more. It was nice (who doesn't like In N Out?) but offensive at the same time. A few more careful sniffs and I realized what it was. It was Alan's arm pits.

"Is that your arm pits?" I asked incredulously. (How could one's armpits smell like that?)
He leaned his head over, took a whiff, and leaned back. "Yeah," he said, all matter of fact, and then turned back to his reading.
"That's your arm pits?" I repeated, just in case he hadn't understood the situation.
"I know," he said.

I don't know what made me sadder -- the fact that Alan had been in the hospital for so long that small animals had burrowed into his arm pit hairs and proceeded to crack rotten eggs before curling up and dying or the fact that he didn't care that these animals had taken advantage of the free rent.

I couldn't stand to have him smelling sort of like one of my favorite foods and sort of like dead animals, so I ordered in a bucket of soap and a bucket of water and we gave him a sort of bath (which is really the only thing you can call the baths you are allowed inside hospital rooms). The nurses must not have understood the stength of the arm pit smell because they brought us yet another small bottle of Johnson's Head to Toe Baby Wash. Johnson's Head to Toe Baby Wash is fine for washing some people, people that barely smell, people that barely smell so much they smell brand new -- people like babies. But it definitely does not cut it for washing a full grown man. It was the best we could do and it helped a little, which was better than nothing.

Though, in the hospital's defense, to make up for their sorry body wash, they do have an incredible shampoo -- No Rinse Shampoo by CleanLife Products. Hallelujah! Can this stuff lather! And you don't even have to wet your hair first or rinse it out. You just squirt it all over your head, lather it up, then towel dry. It has so impressed me that I've slowly been gathering all the bottles of it I can get my hands on. You know, for those days when you just can't be bothered with those annoying extra steps. Rinsing, towel drying? Psh, who needs them?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Lisa Mitchell

I am so tired my eyeballs might just fall right out of my head. But first I must tell you that I just discovered Lisa Mitchell. She is so cute.

(And also I did not know there was an Australian Idol. I wonder if everyone has their own version of the show now? I know about Australian Idol because I read about it on her Wikipedia page. Then I noticed she was born in 1990 which made me think that that must make her about 5 and how is that possible? But oh yeah, it's 2009 now. This must be just the beginning. When I'm 92, it will be possible to meet someone born in 2070, and I will be in a sci-fi movie for sure.)

(via Daydream Lily)


At the hospital, there are 3 different shifts and 3 different nurses taking care of Alan each day. On Wednesday he will have been in the hospital for a total of 7 weeks, which means he will have gone through 147 shift changes. There are repeat nurses from time to time, so he won't have had 147 distinct nurses, of course, but the count comes close. The nurses are as wild and varied as the scrubs they wear. (And in case you are lucky enough to have never been inside a hospital, let me tell you, they come in every print, color, trim and size ever imaginable!)

Once, right after surgery, a nursing assistant saved his life. He got up out of bed too fast and too soon and nearly fell, but she caught him, this nurse. Her scrub top had a Strawberry Shortcake print on it and the next day when he saw her, he smiled and said, "Strawberry Shortcake!" She was wearing a different top that day, one with bowls of fruit on it, bowls spilling over with strawberries and bananas and grapes -- so much spillage it almost seemed indecent. But she understood what he meant and she grabbed his hand and squeezed it.

Since then, he's associated scrubs with Strawberry Shortcake-like prints on them with people who are good nurses, the ones that check in on him, that ask how he is doing, the ones that know how to properly pack a wound. Last week, a nurse came in wearing a Little Twin Stars top and he poked her stomach, pointing at one of the Twins. "Strawberry Shortcake!" he said. She smiled down at him with eyes that said Poor, crazy fool. I grew up semi-obsessed over Sanrio and I knew those were no Twin Stars. I didn't correct him though, because honestly, his guess was as good as mine. Would this nurse be a good one? One that would help him if he needed it? I didn't know, so I didn't say anything when he decided she would be his new Strawberry Shortcake.

Each shift we have to make the assessment on who the Strawberry Shortcakes are and who aren't. When I come in the room, I check his whiteboard to see who the current nurse is. Please let it be Tina. Please let it be Tina. But it often won't be Tina, it will be someone completely new, someone we've never seen before, and I just can't help but wonder how many nurses does this hospital have?

Tina is one of our new favorite nurses. Tina says Alan should stay away from soda, but when he explains how much he loves it so and how he's missed it, she says she knows. She loves soda too, it is her favorite drink! Sadly, she had to give it up because it (the caffeine) gave her stomach problems. But recently she was at a restaurant and noticed they had caffeine-free soda, which made her really happy and gave her the good idea of getting some of that for herself. She worries about Alan keeping hydrated. She tells him to drink more water, and then, a second later, makes a face and says she knows it's hard, what with water not tasting like soda and all.

Later, she might come in to check in on him (after he's already been checked on by someone else), and she will see us all canoodled up on his bed watching a movie on his tiny Netbook. She'll come right over, take a peek at the screen and ask what we're watching. It is almost like we are at home (except Alan is wearing that same gown he's been wearing for weeks now, and there is all that beeping going on around us) and Tina is a family friend who stops by now and again to drop off a bag of lemons from her backyard tree.

Tina is just the best. She wears diamond cluster earrings with the diamonds clustered into the shape of an ice cream cone. And then she explains the purpose of his wet-to-dry wound packing, which makes so much sense! She is so wise and full of knowledge. I hope Alan gets Tina for the next 9 shifts.

But today, he did not have Tina. He had someone new, someone who took forever to come check on him. Someone who did not talk about her soda consumption or about the reasons behind the things they do while taking care of Alan. Instead, after I had settled into a nice spot on his bed, she came in and scolded me for it. It was just so incredibly un-Tina-like, and something none of the nurses have ever mentioned, that I decided that Tinkerbell scrubs, her choice print of the day, would forever be associated with bad nurses.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Before There Was Cancer: A Year in Review

So here we are at the end of July, more than halfway through this year, and I realized that I have no idea where these 7 months have gone. I actually have no idea. I think back on it and as I spin through my Rolodex of memories, all the days seem sort of the same. They seem to be all marked by Alan's fight with cancer in one way or another, but other than that, nothing really stands out. This year has not at all been like 2008, which was a much more fun year all around.

In 2008:
  • I got hit by a car
  • I lived with the abrasive, suburban Beavis and Butthead in Walnut Creek (whom I found on Craig's List (beware Craig's List browsers!) and who could not explain to me why we each paid $100 per month for utilities and yet could not turn the heat up past 62 degrees in the winter)
  • I got fired from my advertising agency job for creating this online portfolio (which didn't even get me an interview for the job I had made it for)
But, but. In 2008:
  • Denise and Justin (also lovingly referred to as DJ or Deej, after the great DJ Tanner of Full House fame) got married
  • Irene moved to the Bay Area
  • I ran my first 10k (Wharf to Wharf)
  • I found crumpets in London
  • I went on my first cruise
  • I moved from Walnut Creek to San Jose (from one suburbia to the next; sometimes I don't know how I can stand all this adventure!)
Lately, Alan and I have been nostalgic to our stomachs, just reveling in 2008. And I have to remind him that better days are so soon upon us. And until then, I promised him a few pictures recapping my favorite moments of 2008, the year we never stepped foot in a hospital and never thought twice about our colons.

Gone on a picnic at Villa Montalvo.

Right when you drive up, there is a big sign "No picnicking." Good thing we can picnic in stealth.

Admiring columns.

Passing afternoons watching Bilbo...

...being all droopy and handsome.

Learning how to take pictures with twig tripods.

Admiring rocks.

Fearing rocks.

Enjoying ocean views.

Watching trees grow.

Training for Wharf to Wharf on beaches and sitting on warm, soft, cushioning sand.

Watching the entrance of fall.

Enjoying Alan's gourmet, artistic rendition of the Toaster Strudel.

Eyeing pastries at Tartine's when we grew tired of Toaster Strudels.

Melting on hot rocks.

Dressing up.

Getting even fancier.

Enjoying a slice of pizza.

Ushering in the season of singing and listening to Christmas carols all day, every day.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Beautiful Days -- A House Ogler's Dream

This morning I woke up, put on a pair of shorts, and on my walk to pick up breakfast from down the street, I noticed what a ridiculously beautiful day it was. It was one of those days in which you are thoroughly convinced that trees are green because green looks best against the vivid blue sky above. On days like this, I miss Alan's (non-hospital) company most because days like this are perfect for walking.

Most find that walking is not all that sexy and I would bet that it would lose against other activity options of a) going to a bar to grab a Bloody Mary b) going to a movie c) going to the mall d) going surfing e) riding bikes f) going to a BBQ g) cleaning the bathroom... it would pretty much lose to anything. People often despise walking from the back of the Target parking lot to the store entrance and heck, some even despise the effort of walking while in the store. Once I was talking to my friend Sue who asked what I was up to. I told her Alan and I had just gotten back from a walk. I didn't realize how weird that sounded, how much it conjured up images of moms pushing their tri-wheel strollers or senior citizens after dinner, until I said it. (There is absolutely nothing wrong with moms and tri-wheel strollers or senior citizens getting their cardio in, but I am neither, so it struck a funny image in our heads.)

But see, Alan and I do a whole different kind of walking. Sometimes we will walk with the purpose of getting somewhere, but more often than not, we will walk just to feel the sun on our necks and to ogle houses. The ogling houses bit is a favorite past time of ours. We will walk through our favorite neighborhoods, admiring strangers' landscaping, windows, hedges, paint colors, door styles and overall maintenance. In our heads, we are picking and choosing our favorite parts so that someday we can compile them all into a custom home for ourselves. So far, it will be a completely wacky house, with "beach trees, the tall eucalyptus type things" (as Alan calls them), a red front door, a blue front door (I suppose we could paint each side a different color), a medieval-looking front door, white-paned windows, a green lawn, beach-town fauna, a big rock on the side of the yard. OK, so we aren't very methodical in our selections. Right now, we are just really good at ogling, but we do have the ogling down to a science. For example, we figured out that ogling is best done while walking. Bike ogling presents a challenge in that you're often speeding by too fast to really get a good look at a house.

It's hard to find anyone interested in going on a walk with me, and harder still to explain all this, to ask if she wants to walk around looking at houses with me. Because then I'd have to explain that I'm not looking to buy, I'm just looking. Because... Because... So far my house only has beach fauna, a rock and a multi-personality front door and I need some more ideas, dangit!

But anyway, luckily, it looks like my house ogling partner will be back in action soon. Alan has been eating successfully since Thursday night and will probably be released early next week. As happy as I am that he's eating again, all I can think about is how I cannot wait to show him that house I saw today that is really two very large houses connected by a bridge. Their very own bridge! (We so need one of those.)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mystery Bags

You know you aren't getting out enough when you get home late one night to find a plastic bag sitting on your doorstep and your heart begins to race. It doesn't race because you think maybe, just maybe, someone's heard you praying every night right after brushing your teeth and has finally seen to it that the million dollar jackpot be delivered to you. No, your heart is racing because you are trying to move as quickly as possible, to undo the locks and to hurry inside before the bag blows up because all you can think is Oh my god, someone has left a bomb on my doorstep. Now, why I would even think I am important enough for someone to go out of their way to build a bomb for is beyond me. I must have artificially high levels of self esteem that peak when I spend too much time in stuffy hospitals.

After stepping inside, I flipped on the porch light (can I call it that even though the light does not shine on a porch but just a spot of sidewalk which happens to be right in front of my door?) and used my foot to part the bag open. Would it be a snake? A pile of poo? The money? Could that much money even fit into one plastic bag like that? And then I see small spheres which very well could have been poo, but there was also a note, and something told me someone who would leave poo on my doorstep would not be so considerate as to leave a note with it. They were plums, hand picked plums from the tree in my neighbor's backyard. How nice of him... and here you thought it was a bomb!

Speaking of nice, so many people have been so very nice to me recently through this blog. First, it was the comments. Everyone likes comments, don't they? Especially good comments that involve detailed stories or even just plain ol' compliments are nice too. They amaze me because when I think about the comments I try to leave on other people's blogs, they end up sounding like I had half my brain removed right before dinner. If I read something funny, I might leave a comment like, "So great! So funny! Har har! I'm a pirate! Ha, actually, no, I'm not. Heh... Heh..." and then I will close my laptop up because even it is feeling awkward and uncomfortable and cannot bear it.

Then after that, I got emails from people encouraging me to keep hope alive and wishing Alan and me all the best... something like that. I didn't pay too much attention except for at the end when they signed with things like "Your friend." And then I started thinking maybe now with all these acquaintances I can become properly socialized and stop thinking plums on my doorstep are out to get me.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Solution To Gaining 30 Pounds

For some reason, on Monday, I really took notice of his face. It's really a lovely face, with angles, color and a straight, almost delicate mouth. Sometimes I think Alan could be a statue. I often ask him if he, too, thinks he could be a statue, but of course, he just laughs and looks down all modest like. On Monday, I saw bags beneath his eyes and I urged him multiple times that day to get some rest, to please, get some rest. I maybe thought that if only he could get some sleep, maybe then his face would fill out in all the places it had become hollow.

Today he told me that a nurse had weighed him and he weighed in at 143 pounds. I nearly fell out of my seat, especially considering that is just a hair more than I would weigh at 5'3" if I ate 2 large pizzas by myself and didn't go to the bathroom the next morning. At 6'1", he has always been on the lean side, but he used to weigh 175 pounds. I wonder how I did not see 30 pounds of him disappear, and I wonder when it happened. Was it over the weekend while I wasn't looking? It was like I saw it, but I didn't really see it. And to hear the number out loud was shocking.

I was still thinking about the missing 30 pounds as I drove to yoga this evening and then as I rolled out my mat and started doing poses. After about 15 minutes of class, something miraculous happened. I found my brain consumed with another worry all together and it was a nice intermission from my usual woes. This time my worry was focused on gas, specifically on how to not pass gas loudly. I always try not to eat gas-causing foods the days I go to yoga, but sometimes I forget, and today it seemed as though I had forgotten to mind those usual suspects.

The moves we were doing today were ones that were putting pressure on my gas-maker. I wasn't sure what to do, but I knew I couldn't hold it in. Everyone knows that if you hold it in, eventually it will erupt out of you and without discretion. It will not care that it is coming out when the class is the quietest. Now, this wouldn't be a problem if farts were not funny and if they did not somehow have the effect of transforming people into 10 year olds. But the truth is, they are funny, incredibly funny, except when it happens to you. Then it is just unfortunate and embarrassing.

You would like to think that a room full of adults would be able to handle themselves upon hearing passed gas, but I know for a fact that certain individuals cannot. Once someone farted a great big fart during a challenging pose. He tried his hardest to act like he hadn't just let one loose, and if you looked at him, you might be inclined to believe him. But Denise and I knew, we had heard it, we were right there. I could feel the wild laughter growing in my belly. I tried so hard to hold it in, but Denise... Denise was a lost cause. Her chest was shaking so violently, I thought she might be having a seizure, which forced me to look at her and start seizing myself. The harder she tried to stop laughing, the harder she laughed and the harder I seized because of course, we didn't want him to know we knew (especially since he was trying to keep it together and all).

I was thinking about all this, when I began thinking about Alan again. And then I thought, Maybe we have it all wrong. Maybe that phrase stitched on pillows -- "laughter is the best medicine" -- should be amended. Maybe it's really "farting is the best medicine" because farts are really the source of a type of laughter that is purely innocent, contagious, uncontrollable and utterly ridiculous.

[p.s. Now that I've mentioned it, it's so going to happen to me next week, isn't it?]

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


It is not so very bad going to the hospital every day, and in fact, I'm starting to see the upside. For instance, last night they brought Alan a tray of food that he wouldn't touch, and so I got to eat the small bowl of fruit cocktail presented next to the boiled chicken playing dead in a yellow green sauce with peas. I could understand how the chicken in the confusing puddle of sauce might look unappetizing, but come on, how can you say no to grapes, pineapples, pears and apples in a delightful light syrup?

Aside from piquing my culinary interests, we also get to catch up on all the episodes of Cops that have ever been filmed. It seems to be Alan's neighbor's favorite show, one that reminds me not to speed in the cars I've recently stolen. And that if I ever do get caught, that I should always say that I was just borrowing the car from my girl Nessa. That always seems to throw them off the trail for a bit (Who is this girl Nessa? they will think), long enough at least for me to plan out my next move, which will involve distracting the cops from searching my stolen car. The move will have to be a good one to ensure that they do not search under the front seat where I've cleverly stowed my Ziploc baggie full of questionable substances.

We like to harness our pumping adrenaline post Cops and find it does us well to go on long walks together, long walks down long corridors I would not otherwise find myself walking down. One evening we walked down a new unexplored corridor and found the walls plastered with large, laminated case studies with titles such as "Pauci-Immune Glomerulonephritis," "Forgotten Etiology of Acute Hepatitis" (this one almost conjured up a cute image of a stuffed bunny forgotten at home as its owner and his family packed up and left for vacation), and "Wheat-Dependent Exercise-Induced Anaphylaxis." There was one that was of extreme interest to me as it involved a Cambodian woman, but even the title was lost on me: "Co-existence of multiple myeloma and amyloidosis with acquired factor X deficiency presenting as GI Bleed."

Now we'll often walk this way, and I'll take a moment or two to stop and gawk at the pictures on the "Forgotten Etiology" poster. I will spare you the details, but suffice it to say there is no picture of a bunny anywhere on it.

Those case study posters must have inspired him, because a few days ago Alan showed me a medical article he found via an internet search he did looking for anything/anyone experiencing something similar to him. The doctors had called his case an enigma on Saturday and on Monday he tried telling them about his new theory. His new theory being that he is suffering from opiate withdrawl syndrome mimicking postoperative intestinal obstruction, which was a fine theory except that no one listened until today.

Today I went to visit him on my lunch and found him in bed, his eyes rolling around, not really looking at me. He was looking in sheer amusement at the TV in the side of his bed (there wasn't one). He kept wanting to get out of bed to go check out what movies were on the coffee table (there weren't any) and kept wondering where Jon was (he wasn't there.) The doctors came in and asked me if I thought he was okay. It was one of those questions where you sort of repeat it back to whoever's asking you, just to make sure you're hearing things right.

Do I think he's ok?

But then Alan interrupted, and we all turned to hear what important information he had to share. He said, "Well of course no one would want to pick up Bilbo (his parents Basset Hound) because he's too heavy."

Without saying anything, I looked back at the doctors with raised eyebrows to say, "Uh huh, yeah, that's right. He's perfectly ok."

Monday, July 20, 2009

Movie Talkers Are Everywhere

When Alan and I go to the movies, it often proves to be a very stressful event. We both cannot stand for movie talking, but he feels much more passionately against it than I do. When the movie talking starts behind us, in front of us, or to the side of us (and these days, sometimes it seems like it comes from all directions, a sort of movie talking surround sound) he will start fidgeting in his seat. The agitation steams off of him, and I can tell that if I don't intervene soon he is going to say something, or God forbid shush them, and then there will be a scene. Because heaven knows you cannot ask someone to please be quiet (no matter how nicely you might ask) without some passive agressive, louder form of retaliation being thrown at you (or sometimes thrown into your hair. I think I once had bits of popcorn tossed in mine.)

He will start turning and craning in his seat to make eye contact with the offender and the more he moves, the stiller I sit because I don't want to call attention to us. As I must sit still, I move only minimal parts, so I will throw my arm out and grab Alan's hand and then squeeze it. He's learned that this is what he should do if the movie talking becomes unbearable, and when my hands have been wrung and squeezed until the blood has gone from them, I wonder if there might be some other way. But then I think if I didn't offer him my hand, he would say something all too bold like, "Can you please keep it down? We're watching a movie." And then he would get shot. And in my haste to calm everyone down, I, too, might lose an eye. I can't even imagine explaining how that happened to my mom, so I suck it up and I let him squeeze my hand.

For some reason, I always forget the incredible amount of stress I feel whenever we go to the movies. It must not be that bad if I continue to forget and agree to go with him. Or maybe it's because I know I have to forget because I know there is no one else who would want to see all these movies with me.

Right before Alan went in for surgery in early June, we went to the movies to catch the latest Terminator. We should have known it was going to be movie-talkers galore, but he was going to have his belly opened up soon to have his tumor removed, so we might have had bigger things on our minds. Away we went and within the first quarter of the movie, I thought Alan might twist a finger off. There was a couple behind us, and the man seemed to be translating each and every word to his companion. Alan turned to give them the death stare. They must not have noticed or else chose to ignore it. He quietly shushed them, but they did not shush. I might have been able to watch the movie through it all, except I couldn't ignore Alan who was so obviously not able to concentrate, who was fidgeting with the intent of burning a hole in his seat. And how would we be able to discuss our favorite scenes afterwards if he wasn't watching? So we got up, excused ourselves to the aisle and looked in the packed theater for 2 seats together. We spotted a pair, made our way up the stairs, far away from the loud translating couple, and excused ourselves into the middle of a new row. We had just settled in when the people to our left started movie talking. Alan's seething began all over, and I handed him my hand to squeeze. I could almost be sure he was going to ask if we could move again, so before he did, I turned and said, "We're not moving again. And you're also not allowed to go to the movies anymore."

After that, we stopped going to the movies, not because I had forbade him, but because he started his stay at the hospital, which has been continuing on for nearly 6 weeks now. Now that he's not with me nearly as much to be angered over rude movie talkers, I've found that I've become more vigilant about picking these people out. It's as though I must be angry enough for the both of us.

This past Saturday, I drove up to the San Mateo library to see Dave Eggers talk about his new book, Zeitoun. It was hot that day, and I was late, so I was rushing. I parked outside, ran inside and burst through the double doors into the room. Frantically, I searched for an empty seat, any would do. But to my surprise, there were tons of seats to choose from, the room was barely filled. I had expected it to be not unlike Michael Jackson's memorial service in L.A. In my literary world, Dave Eggers is like the Brad Pitt of the movie making world. But then again, that's just me. I've met him a few times (met is an odd verb to use here in that usually when I meet someone, they will remember later on, or, if they don't, I will say something to the effect of "I think we've met before at such and such place" and the other person will take a moment but will usually remember and agree or make a slight revision to the story. But I don't do that when I re-meet Dave Eggers because that would be sort of creepy to assume he would remember me, so I just keep re-meeting him each time which is fine by me.)

Before sitting down, I bought a copy of Zeitoun and then sat in the third row, not too far, not to close. I peeked inside but didn't start reading. When I'm really excited about a book, I like to take my time, doing things the right away. I didn't want to steal short glimpses into the book, but I wanted to take it home with me, pour myself a glass of water and sit, just me and the book, so we could give each other our full attention. It was so new and perfect and ...

"Oh, is that his new one? Can I see it?" The lady next to me asked.

I didn't want to give it to her. I wanted to explain that I hadn't even really opened it and taken a look for myself yet, so that wouldn't be right to have her putting her paws all over it, now would it? But then she snatched it out of my hands, so I didn't get a chance to tuck it away. And that was the first sign of trouble. Her friend came over and sat in between us. Shortly after, Dave appeared and he began talking about his new book. He ceases to stop producing great works, and I almost wanted to run out of the room to start reading it, but at the same time I didn't want to miss what he was saying. "It's a non-fiction work, just out from McSweeney's press as of last week, about a Syrian-American man named Abdulrahman Zeitoun who stuck around with his American wife and children in his adopted hometown of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina only to be abruptly made to disappear by the U.S. government." (Read more about the book here.)

I don't know what I expect when I re-meet him, but seeing as how this Saturday was the third time I'd met him, I suppose I was hoping for something different. Like maybe he would say, "Hey! Glad you could make it! I met you at 826LA at that painting party right? Yeah, well, I've been reading your blog, and I think I could really use your help on this next project. You like pizza? I know a good place..." But that didn't happen. Instead, I sat next to the two mature ladies, the only two people in the whole audience to talk to each other, while he was talking on stage. And I know they weren't talking quietly either, because people kept turning around to give them the death stare I knew so well. I wanted to offer these people my hands, but they were sitting too far away.

Dave Eggers is going to associate me with these talkers and then I will never be asked to get a slice of pizza.
I tried shrinking away, just melting into my seat, when all of a sudden, the lady next to me stood up to ask a question. It was about the non-profit he had started, the writing labs found across the country. She wanted to know if it could be a model for tutoring kids on math. He said it could be, that that wasn't a bad idea and some other stuff, but I was too busy trying to disappear to listen. When he finished, he was about to take another a question, but the lady wasn't done and she wasn't sitting back down.

"Point me in the right direction," she ordered. She ordered. It was very odd and uncomfortable and then I became upset because here I was on a nice sunny Saturday, sitting next to the equivalent of author-talk movie talkers, ruining my chances of Dave seeing me in a favorable light, one in which we could be friends and he could cure cancer.

(He's the one without the blazer).

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Latest Addition To The Brunch Spot Favorites List

This morning I woke up and for a panicked (yet thrilling) moment, I did not know where I was. Then my brain clicked on and made a series of calculations and I realized I was safe in the middle of Preethi's living room, lying on an air mattress. Her apartment has an incredible view of Kezar Stadium:
and even cuter deck chairs to sit and stare at it on:

The sun was shining today and when that happens, San Francisco makes me fall in love with it again. I am forever telling the City no, I am not going to return your calls because I cannot deal with its wishy-washy hot and cold. I like the bright side and it seems to me as though the City gives me more gloomy days than sunny ones. But today it's as if the City is trying to be extra cute to win me over.

After getting up, Preethi decided today was a good day for me to join her and Birt at Brenda's, a brunch spot in the Tenderloin she has talked about forever. We all sat down together and I said, "Preethi talks about you all the time, it's good to finally meet you." She said, "You too, it's not everyday I meet a Cambodian." And I said, "And I should say the same, Ms. French Soul Food!"

We had these wonderful beignets (fancy donuts). They were amazing on their own, but also delicious with the peach jam on the table. I should mention the ridiculousness of the jam; it made everything taste like peach cobbler. Yes, it was that good.

Hangtown Special: Oyster and bacon scramble, potato hash and a heavenly biscuit of butter. The oysters were a nice element not ordinarily found in a scramble and were fried in a light, slightly spicy batter. The hash consisted of nicely spiced, tender potato chunks. The biscuit of butter speaks for itself and tasted even better with a generous heaping of the peach jam.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Night Funny

On a bus, two men with really heavy accents start a conversation. The lady next to them can't help but overhear.

One of the men says, "Emma come first. Den I come. Den two esses acoma together. I come once-a-more. Two esses, they comma together again. I come again and pee twice. Then I come one lasta time."

The lady jumps out of her seat and exclaims, "You dirty mouth pigs! In this country we don't talk about our dirty sex lives in public!"

"Hey, whats sa matter with you?" says the man. "I'm a justa tellin' my friend how to spell 'Mississippi.'"

(via porno music/comment time from a Community Channel Vlog)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Comfortable Couple Worry

Once in high school, my mom told me I wasn't allowed to have a boyfriend (which was sweet of her, really, to think that I had so many interested prospects out there). She also told me she would know if I got a boyfriend and started having relations because my "hips and thighs would get wider." Of course, as is customary of a good teenage daughter, I didn't believe her.

Years later, it finally became clear what my mom was trying to say. What she seemed to be trying to explain to me was the phenomenon of Comfortable Couples, and how I would grow to be attracted to a relationship of that nature, eventually turning into a Comfortable Couple myself.

Comfortable Couples often adopt a slovenly dress when at home with each other. They rationalize their frequency of wearing stained sweat pants to each other by saying things like, "But no one's going to see me but you!" As a Comfortable Couple, you will realize just how rarely you dress up when you come home early from work one day to discover your boyfriend trying on his new shirt, looking longingly in the mirror, turning this way and that. When you catch him and ask him what the special occasion is, he will fall into a foul mood, complaining about how you never take him out anymore and how he never has anywhere to where his new shirt to.

Date nights will be instituted and after a short while, they too, begin taking on a comfortable tempo. For many Comfortable Couples, date nights will involve an inordinate amount of time devoted to locating, discovering, driving to, consuming and enjoying food. And then waiting for digestion to complete to make room for dessert. As much as you both enjoy eating, you also enjoy each other and promise to always love each other no matter what.

That "no matter what" provides people with wriggle room. Sometimes that wriggle room translates to allowing oneself to gain some weight. Which is what my mom was trying to tell me: "Your hips and thighs will grow wider."

Needless to say, Alan and I love eating together. We are those people who will drive 45 minutes out of our way to get a good bowl of ramen and who will plan a day trip around the main event of eating pastries. It is this love for food and love of eating as part of my Comfortable Couple that makes me so incredibly sad that Alan can't eat. There's a whole host of larger problems at hand (such as the still blocked bowel, the pain, etc.), but the fact that those problems are preventing him from enjoying an activity we love so much breaks my heart. He hasn't eaten now for almost 2 weeks, 2 whole weeks without nutrition. Yesterday he tried to eat since the doctors seemed to think he was better, but it didn't work and he only ended up reeling in nausea and stomach cramps. 2 weeks seems to be the point when people trapped in their cars in deep snow banks start eating their tires or the car seat stuffing, so I'm pretty sure he is near the point of starvation. You would think someone besides me (ahem, the doctors...) would be worried about this. Pretty soon, these hips and thighs are just going to disappear.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Flying With The Cool Kids

When I was a kid, I once flew by myself to Quebec to visit my grandma and all of my Canadian family. I'd probably only ridden a plane once before that, but it didn't matter. It didn't matter because from the moment my parents dropped me off at the gate to the time the plane landed, I seemed to be the center of attention of all the flight attendants. Combine this with the fact that I was wearing a stellar outfit (carefully selected specifically for the flight and consisting of a baggy, lime green t-shirt with matching, tight lime green biker shorts, fold-over socks, a scrunchy and my LA Gear sneakers) and I felt like the coolest kid that had ever flown the North American skies.

This afternoon, I was nervous about flying to Arizona. The anxiety came from the fact that my nose hadn't stopped running for the past 4 days and was accompanied by an annoyingly persistent cough. Now, let's face it, no one wants to sit next to someone with all the symptoms listed on the side of the Nyquil Extra Strength bottle. They think: That leper could be carrying the bubonic plague for all we know. I know that is what people are thinking because that is what I think anytime the person next to me on a plane so much as sneezes. When I sit next to someone who demonstrates any of the symptoms I was exhibiting, I turn my head away from the person as far as I can, breathing in only from the small pocket of air in the window, somehow believing this air is cleaner, less contaminated.

As I was stressing out about who I would sit next to and whether or not he would be a big germaphobe (just who do these people think they are?), I lucked out and found a seat near the front next to a kid no older than 10. My gosh, if I thought I was cool flying alone at 10, this kid would be frozen. He had remarkably cool hair, worn bleached with his roots showing, and a pierced ear (a small peace sign stud to be exact). He informed me that he was flying back home by himself to Arizona, which he considered to be much better than California because it's warmer. (I did not detect any signs of him joking so I assumed he must have been completely serious). Kids must be the least germaphobic people alive so I thanked my lucky stars the aisle seat next to the cool kid was open.

I slid into my seat and found myself, for the first time in a long time, actually paying attention to the flight attendant's presentation about what to do with our masks should the cabin suddenly lose pressure. Because what if we did crash? I would surely need to know about the masks. We might even crash on a remote tropical island with mystical, magical properties. They might start a show about it - all of us plane wreck survivors trying to live together, all the while trying to avoid conflict with the original island inhabitants. We could call them "Those" people. I would want to be on that show because who wouldn't. So I paid attention to the mask lesson.

If we did crash, I would need to make my alliances right away. Everyone knows that is how anyone survives after being plane wrecked on an island with strangers (at least that's what happens on TV). I would start by befriending the cool kid. On the first hour of the flight alone, he had proved useful. He had a large backpack which would come in handy for gathering mangoes and coconuts. I knew it was a big, roomy bag because he kept pulling all sorts of stuff out of it and piling it up on the seat in between us. A mini gaming system, a collection of CD's, a DVD player, a beach towel with a skull and bones print and a package wrapped in cardboard and sealed with massive amounts of duct tape.

Throughout the flight, the cool kid's magician's bag did not stop producing. He played a Madonna song on one of his many electronics and offered me one of a handful of Jolly Ranchers. After a few moments of sitting quietly, he reached into the bottom of his bag, pulled something out and then reclined back in his seat. I turned to see the latest trick he had performed and saw that he had put on a pair of over-sized 3D glasses. "For the movie," he said ominously. If you've ever flown Southwest, you would know there are no 3-D movies screened in flight, so I had to assume he knew something I didn't know...

...Maybe we really were going to crash...

I almost started saying a little prayer in preparation for the crash when the flight attendant came by to take our drink orders.

"Would you like anything to drink?" she asked me.
"Orange juice, please," I said.
"Sure thing," she smiled at me.
Turning to the cool kid, she asked, "And what would you like, sir?"
"Bloody Mary," he said. Just like that. Bloody. Mary.
The flight attendant, who was just a touch hard of hearing, put her fingers to her ears to indicate she couldn't hear him and then leaned across me, closer to him.
"What was that?" she asked.
"Bloody Mary juice," he responded.
"Oh! The spicy stuff!" she cackled and jotted it down on her notepad.

I looked at the cool kid and then at the flight attendant, as if to say, The cool kid with the 3D glasses on just ordered a Bloody Mary, but she must not have noticed since she gave me another smile before continuing on down the aisle.

I turned in my seat to see where the cameras might be; the island show must have started filming already.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Movie Recommendation: Delicatessen

What I should have done tonight after coming home from visiting Alan in the hospital was pack for my trip to Arizona tomorrow. (Emphasis on the phrase should have.) It's supposed to reach a sweltering high of 112 degrees while I'm there, and I just want to know what the heck I'm supposed to pack besides underwear. Because isn't that all anyone would want to wear when it's 112 degrees out? The cool is supposed to be something bone chilling, something like 92 degrees, so I guess I could afford to throw in a tank top for good measure. But something tells me my boss and colleague would not appreciate trying to figure out next year's marketing plan with me sitting in nothing but my sweaty skivvies, so I've opened my suitcase up.

That's pretty much as far as I got before I started watching a delightful French film called Delicatessen. It's about this endearing ex-clown who takes on a new job as an apartment building's handy man. The first floor of the building houses a butcher shop and the ex-clown falls for none other than the butcher's shy, pretty daughter. Except it's not an ordinary butcher... it's a butcher that murders people! 5 words to describe it: spooky (in the way that movies about people eating people usually are), Amelie-esque, cute, funny, dream-like. I knew I was going to thoroughly enjoy it just from the opening credits. (Does that make me shallow?) Anyway, it's on "Watch Instantly" on Netflix if you are a subscriber.

While watching the movie, I decided to make a list of things to pack. And after the movie ended, I looked long and hard at my list and thought long and hard about how I should start filling my suitcase, but decided instead to watch an episode of MTV's 16 and Pregnant. If you can't tell from the title, it's a show about a pregnant 16 year old and her journey through her pregnancy all the way to birth. I decided to watch it because it's not like I don't already have a strange, almost morbid, fear and fascination with pregnancy and birth. After watching it, I decided to never have kids at age 16 and that I should soon move to Georgia where I can rent a house (an entire house, with multiple rooms, a washer and dryer and a backyard, mind you!) for $550 a month.

Today's Blog of Note... Is Mine!

I just found out that I've been selected as today's Blog of Note!!!! How so very exciting!!! So this is what it feels like to not be able to close a dropped jaw. I really, really don't mind if it stays like this forever. :)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Content with "Stay Tuned..."

Since the birth of Quiet Like Horses, I have wanted for two things. Quiet and I have spent many long days and nights together, thinking about these two things. The first thing we discuss, or rather, review, is that we shall never write "I am bored today. There's nothing to really write about." (That is, unless, directly beneath it I've included a video of me riding a wolf or petting a unicorn. I suppose that would make it okay.)

The second thing I have wanted for, the thing I have spent many quiet moments dreaming about, is to become a Blog of Note, "interesting and noteworthy Blogger-powered blogs, compiled by the Blogger Team." I've been waiting for the right moment when I could share my blog with Blogger. I wasn't sure when it would be, but I knew it needed to be a good moment; I couldn't send them just any post where I talk about underwear or flatulence in yoga class. It was sort of like finding that perfect opportunity to tell your high school chem partner that the boy you had asked him for advice about the entire year was actually him. (Turned out he knew the entire time which was more humiliating than liberating as I had imagined it to be, but that is a story for another day.)

So after blogging about making one of my favorite drinks, pearl tea, I decided to tweet the Blogger team to check out my blog. I don't know why I chose that particular post, maybe because I like seeing step by step directions in picture form and figured they would too. Well, I wasn't chosen as the Blog of Note that day, but later that night, as I was checking random things on my phone, I saw this message from someone at Blogger:"@sobrina I like tea and I like your blog; thanks for sharing. Stay tuned..." That little stay tuned and accompanying ellipsis sent me right to a blogging heaven, one where everything smelled nice and that I imagined I would never be allowed into.

But as soon as I made it through those gates of happiness, I took a few steps back. What does "Stay tuned..." mean exactly. Is "Stay tuned" with an "..." intrinsically different than a "Stay tuned." without the "..."? Is this like the "Stay tuned..." at the end of cliff hangers in television shows? Or was it more like the "Stay tuned..." that boys sometimes do to girls? The one that implies "We are right behind you" but really aren't?

I'm not sure if I need an answer right away. It was nice enough completely exhilarating to even be recognized by a Blogger team member. But I sure hope that I make the list someday. And that it's not like that time when Irene and I were both single and living in L.A. That one time when we convinced each other to go out and not spend the night at home, in our comfy pants, passing a gallon of ice cream between us. (Because that is what friends are for and sometimes it's sad to realize that you are turning into the old lady who lived in the shoe.)

That night, by way of her illuminescent smile or by the forgiving darkness of the bar, a group of guys stood next to us and began making conversation with us. All was going well, and I was giving Irene silent hi-5s in my head, but not sure exactly what we would do next and definitely not sure if we should even ask them to get a slice of pizza with us later (because there is only so fast strangers who just met should go). Irene and I exchanged looks and in the look I could read her mind: Let's go to another bar, she was thinking, and I agreed.

At a new bar, there would be different music playing, different people to watch. We would surely have lots of fodder for discussion with our new friends. After letting them in on our plan, they all smiled and happily agreed. For a moment, I thought perhaps we might grab a casual bite to eat with them after all.

"You guys ready?" She said with her big smile.
"Yeah! You guys lead the way!" the boys replied. (We're right behind you! You just stay tuned for all the fun we're going to have! their faces seemed to say.)
"Ok!" we said and clasped each other's hands, making the way through the dense crowd for the door. Excited, we began fiercely whispering about where we might go next. Maybe we could go to that cool bar around the corner or that funky one a few blocks down... my brain was churning with the possibilities.

However once outside, we turned, beaming, to discuss where we'd go next only to find that the only person behind Irene, holding her hand, was me. And behind me was a loud, packed, dark, faceless sea of people drinking beer and making plans to ditch the girls that wouldn't stop talking to them.

Friday, July 10, 2009

We Are of Age

It is official -- we are of that age, the age where people start taking their careers seriously, start thinking about buying homes and start getting engaged! A close friend (who shall remain un-named so that I don't unintentionally steal her thunder) just called to tell me her big news. Well, first she said she had some good news, and after some hesitation I figured, "Ellen was just talking about your blog on her show!" was a bit of a long shot so I said the next thing that pops into my head whenever someone asks me to guess something.

"You're getting married?" I asked.
"Yes!" she said.

I was just about to say the second thing that always pops into my head ("You're pregnant!") when I digested what she said. Immediately there were chills and goosebumps, the good kind, even better than the R.L. Stine kind.

She is the first close friend of mine to be endowed with a left ring finger bauble, and I couldn't be happier for her. But what a novel feeling it is to realize that everyone is seriously growing up, these same people who I used to stay up late in college with, eating pie and watching marathon episodes of The Gilmore Girls.

Congratulations, my dear!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Hospital Lessons

My freshmen year in college, my major was officially "undeclared." But when people asked, I would follow, "Technically, I'm undeclared" with "but I'm going pre-med." Everyone I knew was pre-med (or so they thought), except for the kids that were declared art majors or design majors, the same ones who took to loudly discussing the subthemes and cinematography of David Lynch's disturbing Blue Velvet and who considered video clips of people eating feces to be highly artistic social commentary. I think pre-med was such a popular notion for the undeclared to claim because the career path following it was so clear cut: first you would be pre-med, then you'd major in some form of biology, you'd attend med school and eventually become a doctor.

It's odd to think that I was asked at age 18 to decide what I wanted to learn and what professional occupation I eventually wanted to take up. Especially considering that not even a year before that, the highlight of my year was planning Senior Cut Day with my friends (we planned a trip to Taco Bell and then we wildly walked the streets of Santa Cruz. We didn't drink and we didn't smoke but I don't think any of us wore sunscreen that day because, by golly, we were rebels!)

It soon became evident that I did not like pre-med classes. (It might have had something to do with the fact that I was not so good at them, but that is just one small, minor, insignificant theory.) The summer after freshmen year, I came back home to San Jose. I picked up the UCLA catalogue and sat hunched over it on my bed. For the next few hours, I thumbed through the black and white pages and ran my fingers over each of the majors the school offered. As my finger slid past each one, I read it out loud and envisioned myself in the major. Finally, two felt good to me and it was those two that I majored in: economics and psychology. Turns out these were a much better fit, and I was happy.

Until recently. Recently, with Alan's "short" hospital stay turning into a week long visit, I wish I had a medical background. I wish I knew why he can't eat anything and what could be done about his intestinal blockage. I imagine the pieces of lettuce he ate in his In 'n' Out burger (the ones I know he secretly suspects blocked his intestines) and I imagine them creating a seal, preventing anything from properly traveling through his digestive tract. I would have a better solution than sticking a tube down his throat to suction out his Jamba Juice. My solution would be better because after the tube would be removed, he wouldn't continue to be blocked. And I definitely would not tell him he would be released in 2, 3 days, only to have him stay for 9 days and counting.

Aside from wishing I might have tried harder in biology (or at the very least, wishing I had paid more attention to how the "House" team deduces all their brilliant, medical solutions), Alan's hospital visits have taught me a few very important lessons.

1) Do not get cancer. I know no one wants to get cancer, and sometimes it just cannot be helped how one's cells want to mutate or express themselves, so maybe I should rephrase this lesson as Do everything you can to decrease your risk of developing cancer. Visit the doctor early on if you think something might be wrong (hint (and don't be embarrassed if you need this hint because some people do): something might be wrong if blood is coming out from places where it normally has not come out from in the past or if you feel nauseous for a good, solid month for no good reason).

Alan's post-surgery recovery has been hard, really hard. Like a solid month spent in a hospital room hard. But all that time spent in the hospital has also enlightened me to lesson 2.

2) Never ever ride a motorcycle. The number of hospital roommates Alan has had who have suffered serious injuries from motorcycle accidents is beyond belief. One day, we stepped outside the hospital to find the cutest basset hound sitting on the steps with his owner. The basset hound was wearing a mini vest and because we are curious people, we stopped to ask the owner what his dog's vest was for. The man looked at me and said, "He is a therapy dog. I was in a motorcycle accident and I died two times. Both times they brought me back to life. But because of that now I am a little bit dumb and this dog helps me meet friends because people come by to pet him. I think he is beautiful." It was shocking to hear such a candid response and I almost wanted to help him revise it so that he could make friends in a more natural manner, but that is a very hard thing to suggest to someone, let alone a complete stranger, so we didn't say anything and moved along quietly with crashing motorcycle images firing off in our heads.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How To Make Your Own Milk Tea with Boba

Sometimes, the only thing better than eating one of your favorite foods is learning how to make it yourself so you can make it all the time and eventually open up your own food cart outside your cubicle at work or outside a hip, happenin' club in the City. It's fun to learn how to make things, especially when the making is easy and when there are puppies involved.

Last night I played with a puppy named Cookie Monster and learned how to make my favorite drink, which is sipped and eaten simultaneously. It was like I had died and gone to some other realm in which an Asian Martha Stewart exists, one that knows how to make boba and who owns the cutest puppy ever.

Before we get to boba making history, you must first meet C. Monster, a 2-month old, fluffy puppy, not to be mistaken for a stuffed animal.

That fluffy thing is Cookie, sleeping at my feet in the car.

Everyone is mesmerized by her fluffiness, even other dogs.

OK, here is the secret to my future success...

How to make Boba/Pearl Tea:

1) First, prepare simple syrup. Meaure 1 c. filtered water.
2) Boil water.
3) Find brown sugar in your cupboard. Once it's found, someone may need to go retrieve a cleaver or a small ice pick to get the brick into smaller granules if the brown sugar is stale, but whatever works for you is fine.
4) Measure 1/2 c of brown sugar.
5) Measure 1/2 c of white sugar.
6) Stir both brown and white sugar into the boiling water.
7) Bring the concoction to a boil. Keep stirring. You will know when all the sugar has been melted when the bottom of the pot doesn't streak when you move your spatula across it.8) When all the sugar is melted, simple syrup is ready. Place aside and let cool.

9) Next, prepare your boba balls. We used rainbow ones because they are rainbow and com'on, they look cool, but you can use whatever kind you want. We used 1 c of boba balls. For every cup, add 7 cups of water.

10) Add the boba balls to the pot of water; cover. Let it come to a boil and boil for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the boba balls sit uncovered for another 15 minutes.
11) Drain the boba balls and rinse with cold water. Rinsing will keep the balls from sticking together and stop them from cooking into a gooey hot mess.

12) Add your boba balls to your simple syrup and chill in the fridge next to the Soyrizo and milk.
13) Now onto the tea, prepare whatever kind of tea you like. We made Jasmine green tea.

14) When your tea is ready, add milk and simple syrup to your desired sweetness and creaminess.

15) Add boba balls to your tea and serve. If you are trying to impress guests, it may be best to visit tea shops in your neighborhood prior to serving so that you can pick up a few extra straws. But spoons will also do.

And for your tea drinking pleasure, here is a video of Cookie eating and generally being cute.

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