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It’s like LL Cool J said back in the 80’s: “I’m going back to Cali, Cali, Cali Vancouver, Vancouver, Vancouver…”. Or like what Notorious B.I.G. said back in the 90’s: “I’m going going, back back, to Cali Cali Vancouver Vancouver…”. Yes, folks. I’ll be traveling yet again. It almost feels like I’m never settled down in one place lately. If I’m not traveling, then I’m always hosting visiting family members at home. There is never a dull moment in my life, & I’m so extremely appreciative/grateful/thankful of every aspect, every facet, everything.

Truth be told, Jian is heading to Vancouver for a week-long business trip, & he invited me to tag along. I accepted his invitation, of course, but also suggested that we invite my mom to tag along with us. Jian agreed with my suggestion wholeheartedly. As a matter of fact, Jian enjoys traveling with my mom every now & again. We once tagged along with my mom on a trip to Washington D.C. where she was invited to a family friend’s wedding, & the three of us had the time of our lives despite the wet weather. My mom & I are super excited to be visiting Vancouver once again. Jian, not as much…because of his work obligations. [Insert laugh track here.] My mom hasn’t visited the lovely country of Canada in several years. The last time she traveled there was to attend one of my dad’s high school reunions of all of his foreign-born-Japan-schooled classmates. The last time I visited the North, was almost 25 years ago. I was barely a teenager when I visited Vancouver with my parents & younger cousin for the first time.

I’m really, genuinely excited to be traveling to Vancouver once again, but one thing worries me: the shopping! I don’t want to go all the way to Vancouver & come back with another giant haul of stationery & office supply goods. I can’t believe I’m actually saying this out loud, but I’m getting a little weary of my ever-growing mountain of stationery goods. It’s kind of becoming overwhelming, & I barely have time to use everything. I’ve got quite a few items, in their original packaging, that have not even had the seal broken or even seen the light of day. The KonMari guru Marie Kondo would not be happy with me right now. I’m actually quite embarrassed myself, but I’ll live with it.

Jian has already been on a few business trips to Vancouver, & sometimes he says the food there is positively delicious. Other times he says the food sceen is mediocre (like how he described the food in London). I plan on proving Jian wrong, just like I did about the food we ate in London, which was incredible by the way. I’m planning on stuffing myself silly with good food, scrumptious cocktails, & piping hot drip coffee. (OK, I’m officially making myself hungry as I type this paragraph.)

Spending quality time with my mom is also a bonus. We are definitely going to have a blast together (mom’s Sciatica be damned!). But until our trip, Cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

“Sleep Forever” by Portugal. The Man

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December is one of the months in the calendar that brings up mixed feelings for me. I love the winter season. I love decorating the house for Christmas. I love the festive holiday cheer. However, I don’t like that it’s already the end of the year, & you’re left wondering where all that time has gone. The year has passed too quickly. I don’t want to say that I can feel my life flashing before my own eyes, but I do feel it. It’s all going by in a tidal wave of a rush.

Right now I don’t want to think about all of that. I want to focus on the awesomeness that is this winter holiday season. I am so proud of myself that yet again, I was able to assemble our faux Christmas tree all by myself. We’ve had our fake tree for nearly 20 years, & I must say that it has been money well spent, & our family has definitely put this tree to good use. My dad & I have always been allergic to the pine needles, pollen, & sap from real trees, so my dad decided to invest in a high-quality (& expensive) faux Christmas tree. Plus, my dad always hated trudging to the tree lot to find some scrawny tree with half the needles already shedding, then trying haphazardly to secure the tree to the roof of our family car. The one part that my dad hated the most was having to affix the tree stand to the trunk of the tree & trying to get it to look somewhat straight (or at least close enough to my mom’s standards). Then, having to remember to water the tree daily & sweeping the constantly shedding needles. It was super annoying & a major hassle…not to mention that my severe allergies would kick in the moment my dad hauled the tree inside the house. It was just easier (& better for the environment) for my dad to invest in a faux tree.

I love our fake Christmas tree. It’s sometimes tedious to assemble due to all of the components, but to me it’s well worth it when you see the finished results with all of the lights strung up & ornaments hung with care. I absolutely enjoy putting our ever- growing collection of ornaments on our tree, but the one part I dislike the most & often try to avoid is stringing the lights on the tree. I just don’t know how to string the lights on the tree evenly, & I’m constantly getting the direction of the strings mixed up, so the “male” & “female” plugs don’t match up. It’s so frustrating to me, so I usually get my mom’s help (& rely on her skilled artistic direction) to string up the tree lights. Then, I’m all set to hang up the ornaments.

Every year, per my dad’s annual tradition, I try to get at least one or two (sometimes 6 or more) new ornaments to add to our already over-crowded tree. I so very much enjoy shopping for new Christmas ornaments. It’s become such a major part of our family’s Christmas traditions that I’ve even managed to rope Jian in on all the fun. He enjoys helping me shop for new decorations to add to our tree. This year, I didn’t really see any special ornaments that caught my eye, but Jian was able to find a set of minimalist ornaments at Target that match our tree. He helped me hang the ornaments on the tree, & we were successfully able to get the tree fully decorated within a few short hours. I turned on my Punk/Ska/Alt-Rock Christmas playlist for Spotify, & we found our groove & had the tree decorated in less time than I had anticipated. I am quite pleased with the results this year.

We don’t really stick to one theme or color scheme on our tree other than”the more colors, the merrier”. I am always on the hunt for fun, unique, & yet practical ornaments that display a special reference/meaning to a family member. For example, I got 3 different Buddha ornaments to represent my mom’s belief in Buddhism. I picked out a beer glass for Jian because at one phase in his life he was super into discovering various craft beers. Also just for fun, we got an ornament shaped like a tin of caviar in honor of my sister (for her love of fish egg condiments, & her tendency of being extra & bougie). My mom picked out a strawberry because my nephew & youngest niece love eating strawberries & could probably inhale one pound of strawberries in one sitting (if their mom let them). I also snuck in one rabbit ornament & one fox ornament because I just had to incorporate some sort of vague reference to this blog, but also because those are two of my favorite woodland animals. Those are just a few examples of the ornaments on our Christmas tree.

I can’t wait to see the looks on the faces of our friends & family when they see our tree this year. It’s going to be so festive & fun. Until then, cheers everyone!

Today’s song of the day:

“Bad Things” by Milky Chance

Well folks, I’m finally back from my nearly 2-week vacation in Taipei, Taiwan. It was kind of an interesting trip. It started off with my mom getting severe jet lag almost immediately upon landing at Taoyuan International Airport. Then upon checking in to our hotel, my mom got a nasty cold (which she suspected was the result of sitting on a 12-hour flight full of recycled air & intense air conditioning). She tried to muddle through the rest of the trip, but it was obvious that she was just completely drained of all energy & enthusiasm during the first full week.

By the time the second week came around, my mom was pretty much burnt out from the Taipei city environment & ready to go home. On top of that, my aunt was also ready to head home. She spent most of her days holed up in her hotel room, due to her tired & sore feet. My aunt had originally planned to visit Taiwan, not to take a stroll down memory lane, but to get a cosmetic spa treatment; then she chickened out at the last minute. After that, she was pretty much over her trip & wanted to head back home.

Jian & I had a pretty fun time during our stay in Taiwan, but by the end of the second week, we were also feeling a little burnt out as well & definitely looking forward to heading back to the comforts of our own home & bed (& definitely ready to get out of the constant rain). Of course we didn’t relish having to burst our cozy little vacation bubble, but it was time to face reality & the real world again. We definitely stuffed ourselves silly with good food & some delicious cocktails, & squeezed in a good amount of shopping. We also got a well-balanced taste of Taiwanese culture, historical landmarks, & city living. Here are some of the highlights of things I learned from my trip to Taipei.

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01. The taxi drivers in Taipei are the worst. I’m sorry, but they are just horrible, plain & simple. The taxi drivers are equally rude & mean…& I mean it. (No pun intended.) Here are two prime examples of how badly the taxi drivers suck:

  •  A.) On the day it was raining the hardest, my mom & aunt wanted to go back to our hotel to rest up before dinner with my uncle. My mom was feeling tired from her jet lag, & my aunt was feeling burnt out from department store shopping. They had planned to take a taxi from the giant department store we were at, but when they told the taxi driver their destination, he flat out refused to take them as customers. He angrily told them to get out of his car all while proceeding to scold them about how he did not want to drive all the way to the neighborhood where our hotel was located (which was actually not very far from the deparment store we were shopping at).
  • B) There was one day when Jian & I had planned to take my mom out for a nice Taiwanese breakfast (& let my aunt sleep in). Jian went online & found a small breakfast shop near our hotel to take my mom for breakfast. We originally planned on using Uber, but we decided not to wait for an Uber driver, & tried a cab instead. Here’s where the story takes a nasty turn. First off, the cab driver got upset when Jian didn’t immediately tell him where we wanted to go (no exaggeration). When we told the cab driver the name of the café we wanted to go to, the cab driver claimed he had never heard of such place, & it didn’t exist. Jian continued talking to the cab driver & gave him a specific address. The cab driver then said that that address (specifically the street name) did not exist. Jian tried to describe the location by giving the name of a nearby hotel (or some sort of landmark), but the cab driver continued his “that doesn’t exist” rant saying that neighborhood had nothing. So basically, that cab driver gave us a bullshit story so he wouldn’t have to take us to a neighborhood he didn’t want to drive to. At that point, my mom was extremely annoyed, plus it was raining fairly hard…so she gave him an equally snotty attitude, & told him to take us to a place he would recommend. He then brought us to a nearby shop that was about to close for the day, not bothering to mention that they only operate super early in the mornings & close early (we got there at 10am). When we told the cab driver the place was closed, he ignored us & made us exit the taxi anyway. Jian & my mom were so pissed at that point we took Uber instead to the original café we wanted to go to. The Uber driver was so much more helpful & friendlier. He knew exactly the café we wanted to go to, & even talked about how popular it was.

These two experiences turned us off from ever taking taxi cabs again in Taiwan. From that point on, we exclusively used either the metro or Uber as public transportation.

02. The MRT in Taipei is so easy to use, & such a convenient way to travel around the city. Just like the subway system in Tokyo, the metro in Taipei is efficient, on-time, clean & relatively cheap. Plus, it’s a great way to get around town without having to walk in the rain. Jian & I practically used the MRT the most while we were in Taipei. For certain destinations that were a little too far from a standard metro station, or if it was late at night, or we were too tired, we would then use Uber.

03. Speaking of Uber, this is also a great way to get around town. The Uber drivers are very friendly & easy to talk to. The cars are relatively clean (some cars we rode in smelled like tobbacco &/or beetlenut pulp), & they’re also efficient. Using Uber in Taiwan is the same process as it is in the U.S.. The only thing I would suggest is to make sure you put a travel notice on the credit card associated with your Uber account, so your payments will go through without any problems. Quite a few locals had warned Jian & I about taking taxis, more specifically about how taxi drivers will sometimes scam you by purposely taking a longer route just to get a higher fare. As for our experiences with Uber in Taipei, we were fortunate to have not experienced any scammers (knock on wood).

04. Disclaimer: Looks can be deceiving. The architecture in Taipei, from the outside, looks very outdated & stuck in a 1990s time warp. On the inside, the decor looks quite modern. There are quite a few modern & contemporary structures dotting the Taipei skyline, but for the most part, the city feels a little dingy & past its prime. There’s not a lot of old historical architecture either. Even though Taipei shows a lot of its Japanese influence, it is definitely not as modern looking as Tokyo.

05. Continuing my architectural theme, Jian had made a very keen observation about the buildings in the city. He mentioned that he had noticed that many of the buildings in the city were either giant shopping malls/department stores with huge food courts, or they were hotels. The other third of the buildings in the city were convenient stores or restaurants. During our 2-week stay in Taipei, we were getting pretty sick & tired of seeing the same old boring department stores or touristy hotel chains everywhere.

06. One must-try food when you visit Taiwan is the quintessential shaved ice (& new Korean trend snow ice), especially with fresh fruit. Taiwan’s national fruit is the mango, so the traditional shaved ice with fresh mango (& a scoop of ice cream) is the most recommended dessert. My favorite shaved ice toppings are red adzuki beans & condensed milk. It’s what I’ve known & have eaten since I was a young girl. These shaved ice treats are great to cool you down when it’s hot outside. They’re also just as good to eat when it’s been raining throughout your entire stay on the island.

07. A new trend I saw popping up all over the city was churros. Yes, you heard me. I said churrrrros! Those cinnamon-sugar coated fried sticks of delicious dough. But, wait. These aren’t just any churros. They’re churros formed into the round shape of a doughnut. Two of the most popular shops in Taipei are Street ChurrosChurro’K. These hot & crispy treats come with a variety of ooey-gooey, sweet dipping sauces & toppings. Now that I’m writing about it, I kind of wish I had tried these churro rounds when I was in Taipei, but I was trying to balance out my diet & not eat too many sweets (which I tend to do when I’m on vacation). Plus, all the food we were eating at every meal made me too stuffed to even want to eat dessert.

08. Oooooh! I have quite a few things to say about the emerging craft cocktail scene in Taipei. When Jian & I first visited Taipei four years ago for our friends’ wedding, there weren’t that many places to go chill out & have drinks (like old fashionedsgin tonics). Now, there are more & more cocktail bars & lounges opening up all over the city serving up innovative concoctions as well as the “classics”. The two of us had the best time discovering a few awesome (& some rather unique) cocktail bars. I’ve listed some highlights below.

  • The very first cocktail bar Jian & I visited was called Dig Out. It’s a very small 10-person space, located a few minutes drive outside of the Mitsukoshi shopping square/complex/park. The bar’s atmosphere is very cozy with leather furniture, comfortably cushioned bar stools, with a very rustic, vintage, & wood decor. The bartender we spoke to could speak a little bit of English (& we can speak a decent amount of Mandarin), so we were able to chat with each other & really have a fun time. The bartender was very skilled at twisting classic cocktails into creative new drinks. The most memorable thing for me about Dig Out was that they used little, novelty, dessert spoon sized metal shovels as stir sticks, for a fun & cute nod to their name.
  • One other highly memorable bars we visited was called R and D Cocktail Lab. Started by a French man, you’ll find tons of ex-pats & foreigners frequenting this bar. This place is located on a quiet street, but is pretty roomy in terms of capacity. You’ll definitely find your standard fare of classic cocktails as well as house-made cocktails (on tap), & other delicious libations concocted by the very-skilled & highly knowledged bar staff. The proprietor of RnD, “Frenchie” (as he so nicknamed himself), is very warm & friendly, & he likes to mingle with the guests almost as much as he loves to create delicious, refreshing, yet strong cocktails. Jian & I met a really cool guy named Ben on our second visit to RnD. We exchanged pleasantries (he’s from Chicago, & we’re from San Francisco). He talked about his business trip & first time visiting Taipei, & we ended up giving him our travel guide book. We hope he actually used it, & maybe one day he will pass the travel book on to someone else he meets on another business trip.
  • I never thought I’d end up drinking very boozy cocktails with my retired mother & her sister (imagine Grace & Frankie from the Netflix TV show) while on vacation. My mom & aunt can sometimes be a little “frisky with the whisky”, & other times they are very conservative & will only have a small nip of a glass. On this trip, I was surprised that my mom & aunt happily & eagerly joined us for a drink or two. We thoroughly enjoyed Backyard Jr., a whisky-centric cocktail bar. With over 2,000 varietals of whiskies, bourbons, & ryes, we had a great time sipping our Hot Toddys, Old Fashioneds, High Balls. Of course Jian had the most fun chatting it up with all the bartenders. He always has a way to charm the bartenders & is able to talk with them for hours on end about cocktails, spirits, & the cocktail drinking experience. My mom, my aunt, & I enjoyed the plush decor & soft jazz music, & we all truly enjoyed the food!
  • One drinking experience we had in Taipei that both intrigued us & baffled us at the same time, was when Jian & I visited Wa Shu. I’d call it an experimental cocktail bar. This minimalist bar was started by a Japanese ex-pat, who also happens to be a very strict taskmaster when it comes to keeping his bar staff in line. We heard him on several occassion openly scold his staff for various tasks he felt were not done to his exact standards. Here’s where things get a little confusing for us. This bar doesn’t have a standard drink menu. Instead they have a menu with a list of flavors, fruits, & taste profiles for you to choose from. You tell the bartender what types of flavors, fruits, &/or taste profiles you prefer, & they will create a drink for you. (You can’t just order a plain ol’ martini or whiskey sour.) Also, this bar does not carry standard spirits. All of the spirits they use to make cocktails are infused with some sort of experimental recipe, or some unique herb or barrel wood. It was hard for us to grasp the concept of telling the bartender what flavors we liked because most of the flavors we like, within the spirit-forward cocktails we often drink, were not listed on their menu. It was also hard to describe our taste profile because this bar only makes light & fruity/herbal drinks, but they don’t really understand how to make spirit-forward drinks. Let me just sum this up by saying cocktails in Asia are by far much “lighter” than the “stronger” cocktails over here in the States, & we sometimes struggle with grasping that concept.

09. Amidst all of the tall skyscrapers, shopping malls, & very 1990s designed apartment complexes, there were lots & lots of greenery dotted all over the city. It was surely a welcome sight in contrast to all of the chaos that surrouned us daily. Everywhere you turn, there’s always construction happening somewhere. So, it’s nice when you can find a small park here & there, or when you are able to walk down tree-lined streets. If only the greenery could help lessen the pollution in the city, but there are just too many motor bikes & motor scooters clogging up the streets with their nasty exhaust. On some days when it wasn’t raining, we were able to enjoy taking a stroll in the park, or in the small garden next to a museum.

10. Lastly, I will end this list with food. Oh man, I didn’t even notice this until the last couple of days of our vacation, but Jian had pointed out that all we’ve been eating throughout our entire trip were starch-filled foods. All the vegetables at the places ate at were so bland & over-cooked that we ended up not really eating much of it. Besides, since they were over-cooked, the veggies pretty much lost all of their nutritional value anyway. Most of the dishes we ate consisted of some sort of green onion (a.k.a. scallion) pancake (always made fresh), a rice bowl meal set, soup dumplings, a bowl of noodles, or some sort of steamed bun filled with meaty delights. It was practically rice on top of noodles on top of bread. Towards the end of our trip, Jian & I started drinking more pressed/blended juices just to get the fiber from the fruits, & we tried eating whatever veggies we could (bland or not). We wanted to re-balance our bodies again before flying home as two human-sized dumplings. I think I had the hardest time eating in Taipei. Whatever I saw, I wanted it all. I could not decide which of my childhood favorites I wanted to eat first. On the flip side, I thought my mom & my aunt were going to go buck wild eating all of their childhood favorites (since they actually grew up in Taipei), but they ended up being the most finnicky about food out of our entire group & didn’t really go wild with the food. Jian tried to keep up with my eating habit, but he ended up feeling very bloated & unsettled towards the end of our trip. By the end, we were definitely ready to go back home & eat a classic hamburger.

Well, this is the end of my first Taiwan blog post. If you want to see photos from my trip, you know, to get a better grasp of the time I spent there, the food I ate, the places I visited…please check out my Instagram feed (@mel__senpai). My Instagram feed is my most active social media account, & the best place to follow me & to contact me. Until next time, 干杯!

Today’s song of the day:

“Let Me Show You” by Kero One ft. Azure

let me show you kero one

taipei cover

This will be my second time traveling to Taipei, Taiwan. The first time, I was attending the wedding of my good friends from Seattle, Washington. This time around, I’m escorting my mom & her sister, who after immigrating to America some 35 plus years ago, have never returned to their hometown. This is going to be the first time since leaving the hot, sticky, wet island that my mom & her younger sister will be setting foot back on Taiwanese soil.

Now, to provide a little back story to my family, neither my mom nor her sister were actually born in Taiwan. My mom was born in Shanghai, & my aunt was born in Beijing. However, they both grew up since they were toddlers, along with their 3 younger brothers & single (twice divorced) mother in the city of Taipei. Once my mom graduated from university, she & my aunt both immigrated to America to find better jobs (& eventually start their own families). Since moving to America, neither of them have ever gone back to the place where they spent most of their youth. This will be their first experience after 35+ years or so (give or take a few years), & I’m sort of excited to be escorting them to the place they once lived & held many vivid memories.

These are just a few of the highlights I’m hoping to experience on my second trip to Taipei.

highlights of taiwan trip list

  1. Of course I’m planning on taking many photos, most of which will be for the ‘Gram (a.k.a. straight to Instagram). I’ll try to post my photos on this blog if I can remember, but the best way to stay up-to-date & follow me on my Taiwan adventures is to follow me on Instagram.
  2. Growing up, I had a lot of different Chinese food influences. Since my mom primarily identifies as Shanghainese, I learned to eat a lot of traditional Shanghainese food. However, since she actually grew up & lived in Taiwan for most of her life, my mom had a lot of Taiwanese influences in her cooking, so at home we also were introduced to many Taiwanese dishes as well. (Side note: most of my Asian friends are Cantonese, so through them I’ve learned a lot about traditional Cantonese cuisine & Hong Kong style Cantonese food.) When I go back to Taiwan, I can’t wait to eat all of the delicious foods I had growing up, eating all of my childhood comfort foods like plump sausages on a stick (香腸) with fresh garlic of course, stewed lion’s head meatballs (獅子頭), red roasted braised beef noodle soup (紅燒牛肉麵), & lots more!
  3. The first time Jian & I visited Taiwan, we had researched all kinds of cool restaurants, cafés & bars to try out. We found lots of cool, hipster bars with nightly live music, but we never got a chance to try them. We were too busy helping our friends set up props & decorations for their wedding. This time around, we are definitely planning to take time out of our schedule to try a few hipster bars in Taipei. Jian & I are both amateur cocktail connoiseurs, so we love trying new bars, lounges, & hole-in-the-wall drinking places wherever we travel to.
  4. Ok, this one isn’t exactly a highlight per sè, but it’s going to take up a major portion of our trip. I know my mom doesn’t really need a chaperone in Taiwan. I mean, for cuss sake, she can read, write & speak Mandarin fluently. She doesn’t need me to help her there, but she doesn’t like to travel alone, & it reassures here when I’m there to help her with the little details, like showing her how to use the subway system, or showing her where she can exchange her currency. Since this is my mom’s first time going back to Taiwan, she’s feeling a little insecure knowing that things have drastically changed since her days of living there. Also, with me being the type of person who relishes taking care of others, I myself, am relieved & happy that I get to accompany my mom (& my aunt) & take care of her in any way I can.
  5. On almost all of my trips abroad, I don’t give myself much time to properly enjoy & take advantage of the amazing hotel amenities. It was only on my trip to London where I fully took advantage of the hotel hospitality & amenities, & I enjoyed myself thoroughly. This time around, I plan on using more of the hotel facilities & really take the time to relax & let go of my anxieties. I want to losen up & not be so tightly wound up like a rubber band waiting to snap all of the time.
  6. Oh man, this is going to be a tough one. Every day leading up to our trip, Jian & I have been obsessively checking the weather forecast for Taiwan. As of right now, the weather forecast says that it’s super duper hot right now with a minimum of 60% chance of rain. Every. Single. Day. I have no idea whatsoever on how we’re going to avoid the heat, the sticky dampness, & the rain showers. I suggested to Jian that we spend lots of time inside shopping malls, but he quickly shot down that idea with a big fat NO. He then suggested that we take the subway or taxi everywhere we go, but I don’t know if that’s going to help much with the getting-soaked-in-the-hot-rain situation. I guess this would be the perfect time for us to check out all the amenities our hotel has to offer.

Well, I’m officially leaving for Taiwan tomorrow. I still have a few lose ends to tie up, & a few more items to throw in to (or, in my case, carefully & meticulously pack in) my suitcase. I’m signing off to get back to my suitcase organizing duties… Until then, cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

“Up All Night” by BECK


 

my unorganized mind

September has come & gone, & I’ve been pretty busy. Between scheduling visits to see my doctor about the health & maintenance of my lady parts, & family events, & anniversaries (of sorts), it’s been a pretty hectic time for me. I’ve been inwardly thinking a lot latey, & there have been a few key things that have been circling around in my scattered brain.

First things first, this past month officially marked the 5-year anniversary of my father’s death. I rarely discuss this topic to anyone, ever. Ocassionally I’ll talk to Jian, but I mostly keep this topic to myself. This is an extremely sensitive subject within my immediate family, & I have an even more extremely difficult time trying to talk about this topic with any of my family members. I really have to walk on eggshells around my family if I even mention my dad in passing. I wish I was exaggerating on this, but unfortunately I’m not.

This is an especially difficult subject to talk about around my mom because this will just re-open an old can of doubt she carries around with her in her expensive hand bag at all times. It’s hard to pull her out of her cycle of self-doubt once she gets on the Coulda-Woulda-Shoulda train. I also never talk about this subject with my siblings. We just don’t express our feelings to each other. That’s not what we were taught growing up, to communicate & express our feelings between each other.

I’ve tried talking about my dad to my oldest brother, in which we share this biological father together, but he flat out doesn’t respond whenever I mention “dad”. My other two siblings, on the other hand, are too busy squabbling amongst themselves over their extremely strained & estranged relationship with their own biological father. All of them, due to our glaringly large age gaps, I assume, treat me from childhood up until today like I am just the little baby sister of the group. To them, I’m the spoiled, sheltered, coddled baby of the family. So, I’ve learned to stay quiet & shrink into the background.

On the day of the anniversary of my dad’s death, I thought about him long & hard. However, I mostly thought about how I never got to properly grieve over his death. I never got to mourn his passing. From the time my dad was taken to the hospital up until his death, I did what I always do best. I nurtured & cared for others. More than myself, I took care of everyone else. So, while all of our friends & family poured in to see my dad, hold his hand, shed a tear, say goodbye, I was busy making phone calls & comforting those who were agonizing & weeping over the phone. I wanted to break down & cry my eyes out until they hurt, but I held it all in. I wanted to scream & shout & stomp my feet & pound my fists, but I didn’t want to freak my mom out any more than she already was. Because I didn’t want to see my (at that time) fragile mother completely lose it, I held my composure so that I could be her realiable shoulder to lean on. When everyone around me was crying, I kept a stiff upper lip. I’ve now built this hard shell around the topic of my father. I keep everything to myself. I only let my emotions & feelings slip out when I am completely & utterly alone. No one ever asked me how I felt when my dad was dying. Nobody asks me, even now, how I’m coping (or feeling). I’ve grown accustomed to it.


On another topic, I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that I will never see eye-to-eye with my sister. We never did when we were growing up together, we don’t now, & I don’t think we ever will in the future. For a brief period of time, I thought my sister & were growing closer as siblings once she started having children. My sister relied on me to help her with the little things like running to the grocery store, or babysitting the toddler kids for a few hours.

Then, when my sister went through the process of her divorce, she grew to become a very difficult person to get close to. She became increasingly controlling in all aspects of her life to the point of overbearingness. It also became difficult to have a conversation with her, even on neutral subjects, for she would get argumentative very quickly.

I always give my sister the benefit of the doubt; I cut her plenty of slack; I give her countless breaks because I know she is struggling & doing her best to be a good hard-working single parent. My sister is struggling to raise her two amazing children, all while juggling a difficult job environment, an overbearing cuss of a boss, & a resistant ex-husband who allegedgly refuses to properly co-parent their children together. While I try to make my sister’s life a little easier by offering to help her in any way I can, she ends up taking advantage of my assistance, & she often tells me that my help is actually not helping her at all. I know my sister has past unresolved issues, extreme insecurities, & a lot of resentment due to her parents divorce (a.k.a. our mom & her biological father) when she was a child, but because she hasn’t dealt with these issues, she unwittingly takes out her resentments on the people around her.

I know she doesn’t mean to project her insecurities & issues on others (myself included), but I can’t help but think to myself sometimes that I should be taken out of her “line of fire” because all of this divorce stuff happened way before I was even born. Why should she take out her resentments & issues out on me, when I wasn’t even born? On top of that, I have no connection to her father whatsoever. I’ve barely met him a handful of times throughout my entire life, & we’ve never spoken more than 1 or 2 sentences to each other at best. I don’t hold anything against my sister. I know these are her own demons to slay, but I can’t help but think that she’s not making things any better by snapping at other innocent people.


The third item I want to talk about is coming from a completely different direction. I want to talk about the dreams I’ve been having lately. I wish I could remember the dreams I’ve been having lately. They’ve been extremely vivid & detailed. For the past several days, I’ve fallen into a terrible sleeping pattern. I’ll try to go to bed at a more reasonable hour than I have been in the past. I really am trying to change my sleeping habits. However, for the past several days I’ve been waking up feeling extremely groggy, exhausted, & like my mind has been on overdrive all night long.

Some mornings I’ll even wake up with a sore back, noticing that I was in such a deep sleep the night before that I didn’t even move or change positions while I was sleeping. My body was frozen into one position all night. I will wake up feeling like I’d only taken a nap & had not really had a full night’s sleep. I can sometimes recall bits & pieces of my dreams in the morning, but mostly all I can remember is that in my dreams there were a lot of action scenes & lots of talking. There was one morning when I woke up & I could remember that I had intense thoughts in my dream, like I knew what my dream-state character was thinking in the dream. I could remember whether I was running or walking in my dream. I could vaguely remember talking to other people in my dream. I remember one scene perfectly, where I was trying to climb a set of stairs in the backyard of my house, & the stairs were crumbling beneath me. I could practically feel the soft wood when I tried to grab the gate door with my hands. That’s how intense & vivd my dreams were.

My dreams lately have been so action-packed, as in I move around a lot in my dreams, & I’m often moving from place to place in my dreams. I also do a lot of thinking & talking in my dreams. There was one day where I woke up from a particularly intense dream. Well, I mostly woke up because my bladder was screaming at me to go relieve myself in the bathroom. However, after that, I fell back to sleep & had yet another vivid dream. That caused me to feel very disoriented when I finally woke up for the day. These past couple of days of dreaming have really messed up my sleeping patterns, & has kind of done a number on my body. Last week, my sleeping pattern was so out of whack that I ended up getting sick. I caught a fever & the chills, but luckily those symptoms only lasted 24 hours. I was back on my feet again by the time the weekend came around. Now, I can assure you that my sleeping patterns have returned to normal. I stopped having such vivid & detailed dreams, & I’m now waking up feeling more refreshed than groggy.


On one final note, I’m excited to tell you all that in two weeks from now, I’ll be in Taipei, Taiwain!! Yes, I’m going on another trip again, but I can promise you that this trip is not for my personal pleasure. This time I’m escorting & chaperoning my mother & her sister, who haven’t been back to the city where they grew up for more than 35 years. I can understand that these two (senior) sisters are reluctant to travel by themselves, so when my mom causally invited Jian & myself to travel with them, we eagerly said yes. Jian loves Taiwain, & I love to travel with my mom & aunt. Also, I like to take care of my mom, & I want to chaperone her so that she will feel safe & comfortable knowing she has someone with her who can help her & keep her company (besides the company of her loving sister).

My mom is feeling both excited & anxious going back to the city where she grew up after too many years of being away. She’s had countless invitations by her friends & many opportunities to go back to Taipei, but she always declined & found an excuse not to go. This time she put her foot down & decided to go back, or else she might miss her opportunity when she gets older & is no longer able to take long flights. I am so excited to be there with my mom as she relives a little bit of her childhood memories. I feel kind of disappointed that my other siblings (the ones that share the same biological mother with me) don’t do these kinds of things for my mom or with my mom. I understand a little that they each have their own obligations in their lives (like difficult work schedules & raising children), in which they can’t just pack a bag & fly off to wherever, but a part of me feels like they’re missing out on important milestones & memorable experiences with our mother that could bring them closer together.

I am so grateful, appreciative, happy, lucky & fortunate to have opportunities like this, especially ones where I can just drop everything, pack my bags & go without a care in the world. I make sure that I take care of my own personal obligations & tasks first, so that I can enjoy these special moments with my family & friends. I can’t wait to showcase my trip to Taipei. I am not going to promise a travel blog this time. I’m really bad at sticking to those, but I’m going to at least try to upload photos whenever I can. Until then, 干杯 (dry cup), everyone!

Today’s song of the day:

“If You’re Hearing This” by Hook N Sling ft. Parson James & Betty Who

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Monsieur Humphrey is making new friends. ☕️ 🍺
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