Monday, August 30, 2010

Music Monday: Jessie's Girl

Yeah, so I've had Jessie's Girl stuck in my head all day. I blame it on Thirteen Going On Thirty, which I was watching while grading papers. That song is also sung on Glee, by the way.

Anyway, that's my very uninspired, lame music thought. Jessie's Girl is very catchy. That is all.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Life Wish List

There's so many things that I'd like to do in life!

Of course, some of them I've already done or started doing (like living overseas). A lot more are still there, still hanging around, waiting to materialize. And that's ok. I (hopefully) have a long life ahead of me and plenty of time to get them done. And even if I don't, at the very least they're fun to think about. So here it is at the moment, in no particular order.

1.Live overseas (done!)
2. Live in a Spanish-speaking country for a time so I can...
3. Learn to speak Spanish very well
4. Visit lots of other countries, learning snatches of languages in each
5. Learn to sew my own clothes!
6. Develop my writing skill, maybe even writing a book
7. Learn to scream.
8. Go to a Blindside concert!!!!!!!!! Before they break up. Please, oh please, please, please...
9. Learn to play a couple more instruments (the Irish tin whistle is my current challenge)
10. Learn things, lots of things, and never stop!
11. Cultivate a yard of columbines
12. Live in Denver in a cute house with lots of stained glass, eclectic decorations and green furniture
13. Help people through hospitality. Especially punk kids and band people.
14. Love God and love people.
15. Die a funny death

Anyway, here's my wish list. What's on yours?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My 'Hood

My mom and I walked to South Horizons the other day to go shopping at the big store. South Horizons is the town next to Ap Lei Chau. It's so weird to think of it as a town, since it's so close to Ap Lei Chau, but all the towns grow up, not out. Anyway, more expats live in South Horizons so the Park n Shop (their Safeway or Cost-Cutters) there has a lot more Western food. Not going to lie, we mainly go there to buy cheese. And tortillas.

Anyway, as we walked to the store, we passed all of the apartment towers. Mom and Dad had thought about living there instead of Ap Lei Chau, but it is a bit nicer and, therefore, more expensive. Mom was once again sighing over the grass-lined walks and trees that surround their buildings. We walk outside and we're in the middle of a street. Well, kind of towards the end, but we still have a restaurant on one side, a scrap shop on the other, and burning barrel going a couple times a week on our front sidewalk. I can see how Mom would rather walk under leafy trees than try to dodge hot ashes.

Still, I'm glad that we're here. I feel like we're more in the center of things, more connected. Ever since going into the next-door restaurant for lunch, the lady waves at me every time I go past. The guy at the trinket/toy/school supplies shop next to the restaurant also says hi whenever I walk past. And of course, the two smoothie guys on the corner always say hello.

I like being able to walk next to tanks of weird-looking sea creatures (remember the mantis-prawns?) on my way to the grocery store. On the way to the market, I can see what the guys are welding in their grimy, blackened shops. Whenever I come back from the bus-stop I pass the wedding tea-house and sneak peaks into the Kiwi Sweet shop.

Although I love trees, for now I'm ok with forgoing them in favor of a more messy, human neighborhood. After all, I've never gotten a free smoothie from a tree.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Music Monday--Satchmo

In the world of jazz, Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong stands out as one of the giants. Even non jazz fans usually know his name, or at least recognize it when it's mentioned. Armstrong is certainly a musical legend. But it all could've been different, had Satchmo's childhood been more idyllic.

It was New Year's Eve, 1912, and of course, New Year's is a time for parties. Louis was at a celebration, but for some reason he decided to end it by firing his uncle's pistol into the air. Why did he do it? Not sure. Maybe he didn't like the music they were playing. Of course, the neighborhood he grew up in was nicknamed "the Battlefield", so maybe he thought it was a theme party.

Either way, young Armstrong was carted off to the New Orleans Home for Colored Waifs. He'd been there before, but never for a long stay. This time it was a long stay. It was while in the home that he took up the cornet (a trumpet-like instrument), and after his release he continued playing. The rest's history.

It just seems funny to me that so much rested on that one pistol-shot. Sure, maybe he would have done something else that would have sent him to the reform home. Then again, maybe not. Would he have ever had the chance (or inclination) to take up the cornet otherwise? He probably would have been busy with school or odd jobs or play. Who knows?

Satchmo, as he later became called, was so influential in the jazz world and beyond. His gravelly smoker voice is definitely distinct in the music world. He also wrote some killer songs. Can you imagine a world with no "What A Wonderful World"? That would mean there would be no Israel Kamakawiwo's "What A Wonderful World/Somewhere Over the Rainbow." Just the other day I saw a ventriloquist on TV who had his puppet turtle imitate Kermit the Frog while he imitated Armstrong. They sang a "What A Wonderful World" duet. So touching.

Well, he does meet the musician/artist requirement of having a troubled past, although not much of that leaked into his later career (good for him). At least he didn't cut off his ear or overdose or anything like that. Silly artists.

Anyway, for your listening pleasure, here are two Louis Armstrong clips. The first one, I'm sure you've heard but just in case here's "What A Wonderful World."

Here's another Satchmo classic, "Mack the Knife." I love the beginning announcer voice!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bus Stop Musings

A lot of my time is spent waiting. I wait for elevators, for seats in restaurants, for my students papers to appear in my inbox so I can grade them. Probably most of my waiting time is taken up by waiting for buses.

In the mornings when I'm rushing off to work, I usually don't wait long. I take the 36X minibus to get to my work in Causeway Bay, and I've been amazed at how few times I've had to wait for it to arrive. Countless times I've emerged from the alley between our apartment building and the bus stop to see it sitting at the stop or just pulling away. The nice thing about minibuses is that they will actually pick you up even if you're not at the stop. Just stick out your arm, pointing politely at the ground of course, and it will screech to a stop and let you on. Very nice.

The other end is another story. After I get off work, I walk the couple of blocks to the 36X stop and stand dutifully next to the pole. There I will stand. And stand. And stand.


In reality, it's usually around twenty minutes. But twenty minutes do seem like a long time when you've been working for hours, you haven't eaten since early that morning, and you have a load of bricks (books?) hanging from your shoulder.

It is a good people watching opportunity, though, and for that I'm grateful. I've always been amazed by people. I love to notice the droopy purple pants, the blonde-tipped mullet, the fighting couple, the child sucking blissfully on its chocolate ice-cream cone. I try to imagine why the couple is fighting, where the old man is going with his unhurried shuffle, why the bird-like lady in a silk dress looks so haunted. She is gone; her wide black eyes remain.

I think I've identified the dress code of a Chinese artist. I've noticed this uniform several times around town, but now I'm more certain of it. A man of an unidentified age began waiting at the stop with the rest of us, and he was soon joined by another. Both wore baggy, low-slung cargo pants that were made from a soft colorful material. One wore purple while the other donned pink. They're shirts were also soft, flimsy v-necks, not unlike those of American indie-kids. Both wore chunky black glasses, hats and long, bunned hair. One wore a Irish golf cap that I'd seen on many other artsy gents. The other wore a white, straw fedora with a black band. Both of them scuffed identical black flip-flops while talking and fiddling with artsy looking magazines. They afforded me at least five minutes of enjoyable observation.

Another fun subject is the rolling sales-booth man. He looks to be about sixty or so, but it's always hard for me to tell the age of Asians. He has spiking gray hair and generally wears blue t-shirt and shorts and flip-flops. When I first saw him rolling his cart past me, I mistakened him for the trash man. After further examination, I realized that, instead of bags of empty frappeccino cups and slimy noodles, his cart was full of cheap wallets, tinny metal necklaces, and kitty-cat head-bands. He was looking for a place to set up, but his usual sidewalk spot was already taken. He rolled from one side of the street to the other, wandering aimlessly in front of minibuses and taxis, blissfully ignoring the honks and squealing breaks. I never saw if he found a spot, but I hope he did before he got killed.

I hear another honk, and there's my minibus, careening up to the curb. I peer inside and see that the polo-shirt man is driving. It's because of him that I started wearing a seat-belt. I sigh, and climb inside. With Mr. Polo at the wheel, the only thinking that I'll engage in is the planning of my funeral. I manage to buckle my seatbelt just as the minibus roars away from the stop. I brace myself.

Open casket or not?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Sunday, the family and I trekked to Macau. It's kind of like China-town meets Boston (just guessing, since I don't actually remember Boston) meets Las Vegas. Certainly an odd mix.

It has tons of old buildings with pillars and balconies and such, but it also has red dragons and signs with Chinese characters and, of course, tons of casinos. One of their casinos is shaped like a gigantic golden lotus flower. Have any of you seen Percy Jackson (or read it)? Well, they totally should have used this casino for the Land of the Lotus-Eaters. That would have been awesome.

Sad news: I have maimed my new phone. Dad gave it to me just a couple days ago, and now it's broken. It has a pretty nice camera in it, so I was using it to take pictures of things. I was just thinking about how slippery it is, when it flipped out of my hand, bounced off my other hand, and jumped over the side of the balcony I was standing on. I looked over the edge, and there it was, lying crumpled on the cobble-stone sidewalk. Weirdly enough, it was smashed to smithereens. It did have a crack around the rim so that the camera thought that the lens was on when it wasn't, but I could still take pictures if I held the crack together. I was using it like that for awhile, but it ended up getting super hot, so I decided to switch it off. We'll see if my new phone survives.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Blessful Day

Today has been a blessful day. I know that's not a word, but I've been teaching adjectives, so I've been going a little crazy. :)

It didn't start out so hot. I stayed up way late, grading papers and watching Project Runway with Amelia. Yes, Project Runway; it's my new guilty pleasure. I'm thankful that I'm one of those people who can do work and watch tv at the same time, for it certainly made my hours of Greek vocab memorization a lot more fun. So I stayed up really late getting things done and was, therefore, pretty tired this morning.

I dragged myself around the apartment, making my breakfast of granola and powdered milk and blearily smearing makeup on. I know that I should be able to tell the difference between my eye and the black fringe that surrounds it, but yesterday I accidentally dabbed mascara onto one of my contacts. That was fun, let me tell you. So it was another tired day.

I was a little worried about my first class today. It has been my hardest class so far. They're all individually cute kids (3-4 graders), but in my last class they were not collectively good students. I had papers flying, a child crawling beneath the table, screaming, and even (play) fighting. However much fun that was, I didn't really care for a repeat. I had been praying for a long time the night before and then that morning. I know that some stuff can be ignored or worked with; it is a tutoring center, so we shouldn't be as strict as a regular classroom. At the same time, they do need to be learning something.

Anyway, I asked God to fill me with patience and wisdom. I asked him to calm the boys and help them engage in the lesson. And he did! Sure, there still was a little bit of fighting and several paper airplanes, but I was amazed at how much better the class was as whole. I was so excited!

My excitement didn't last that long, silly me. After finishing three lessons (five hours total), I was pretty tired and hungry. I got off at three, and I hadn't eaten since seven that morning. I had to wait a half an hour for the mini-bus which usually shows up in five or ten minutes.

On the mini-bus I was planning everything that I would eat before I crashed in bed for a much-needed nap. Popcorn, definitely popcorn. A banana with peanut butter would also be nice. Oh, and I had just bought a pomelo that I could douse with honey. There's nothing better than honeyed pomelo.

Well, I got off at my stop, walked to my building, waved to the smoothie guys, and rode the stuffy elevator up to the 18th floor. Then, I rattled our locked door. Since my sister's been visiting, we've been juggling keys. Unfortunately, I was at the door, key-less, and no one was home. To say I was bummed was a pretty big overstatement.

After waiting in the hall for about twenty minutes, I decided that I needed food. Badly. I took the elevator back down and swung into the restaurant that's right next door to our apartment building. I've been eyeing them for a couple weeks. Although all of their signs are in Chinese, they recently posted color pictures of a couple of their sandwiches. Some of them look very delicious, and I figured I could point to one of them if nothing else worked.

To my surprise, the owner, a short lady in a stained, pink apron, whipped out an English menu! I promptly ordered a meal of two eggs, two pieces of buttered toast, and a soup of BBQ pork and macaroni noodles. It came with either coffee or tea, and she gave me both. The food was good, but I enjoyed watching the human interactions much more than my macaroni soup. Even though I couldn't understand what they were saying, I loved watching the grandpa (I think) wave at his grandson to come join him. The reluctant teenager ducked in through the door of hanging plastic, rolling his eyes at the proprietress who was laughing at him. A wife came in and squished onto a bench with her husband, across from who I guessed was her father- and sister-in-law. Two couples argued over the check and the bigger, balder man won.

When my dishes were empty, I headed back to my still-locked door. Self-pity abounded. I was too tired to walk around, and there isn't really a good place to go hang out in Ap Lei Chau, so I just sat down in the hall to read my Bible, the only book I had handy. I had such a great time reading! Even though I was sitting in a filthy hallway, balancing on my bookbag and trying to stay out of the way of the neighbors, I loved what i read today. So much of it just jumped off the page. I noticed things that I've never seen before, some of which are pretty hilarious.

I think God was trying to show me that self-pity should have no home in me. Sure, I didn't get to relax and sleep, but I got to visit a local restaurant I haven't had time for and spend more time in his word. Opportunities are everywhere, I suppose. Of course, that didn't keep me from wanting to crash as soon as I did get inside, but at least the time outside was well-spent.

A Little Help Everyone?

Ok, guys, I could use your help. Two of my friends from high school got married this summer. They went to College of the Ozarks, so they came and visited me and Nathan at JBU a couple times, and we went to visit them several times. They're wonderful people, for sure.

Anyway, their wedding photographer told them that they'd get a free portrait if they got a hundred people to comment on her photoblog about their wedding. Could you guys help them out?

The pictures are absolutely beautiful, so even if you don't know them, it's worth taking a look. Besides that, you can see pictures from the wonderful Skyline Drive in my town! What's there to lose?

Here's the blog, and it's Canon City Wedding: Josh and Jenny. You can comment on either Part 1 or Part 2.

Thanks in advance!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Smoothies, those icy, refreshing cups of life. I adore smoothies.

In Thailand, I had a smoothie at least every other day. I usually bounced back and forth between watermelon and banana. Their smoothies were absolutely delicious, and they were only fifteen cents each. It's hard to beat that.

When I first moved to Hong Kong, I was disappointed that they weren't quite as readily available as Thailand. After a little searching, I've discovered there are many icy delights here (although I haven't found any quite as cheap).

It may not be authentic Hong Kong, but Starbucks' Frappuccinos are one of my favorite things. Especially the Java chip. It's icy, chocolately, refreshing, and you get these little bits of chocolate shooting up through your straw. It's beautiful. The price isn't beautiful, though, at over four dollars US.

There's also a smoothie-esque stand on our street corner. It's an actual shop, built into the wall and everything, but there's barely room for the two workers in there. Most of their drinks don't appeal to my palate (red bean smoothies, neon-green apple sodas), but I do like their coconut-sago smoothie. It's not quite as refreshing or delicious as Thai smoothies, but it is good. And the two guys are really nice, so I like to support them. Besides that, they're right on my street corner! I can just walk outside and grab a drink.

The other smoothie place that I've fallen for is Saint's Alp Tea-house. Say that aloud. The first several times I visited it, I called it Saint Alp's Tea-house. But no. It's Saint's Alp Tea-house. Apparently there was a saint who opened a tea-house on the top of an alp. I guess. Anyway, they have a foldout menu with a five or six pages of icy drinks. I was practically giddy when I saw it at first. My favorites so far have been the double chocolate sorbie and the blueberry chocolate sorbie. Saint's Alp is between Starbucks and Hung Shing Gai smoothie, so I guess it's a good compromise.

I really need to get a blender. I could start my own smoothie business! Of course, I'd probably be my only, very loyal customer. But that's ok. All the more smoothie for me.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Music Monday: Ruined by Fame?

Yep, it's Monday again. I've been thinking about band drama queens lately.

It's a given that some bands let fame go to their heads. I think we've all heard stories of bands wrecking hotel rooms and thinking they can do whatever they want. From one friend, I heard about a band that was trying to get girls to buy him a coffee after the show by being smooth. My friend was pretty disgusted. Doesn't paying for a ticket already give him money? Can't he buy his own coffee instead of schmoozing a girl he'll probably never see again?

I can't help buy be afraid for people like Justin Bieber. He's only sixteen (although I've thought he was twelve for the past several months--oops) and is already a superstar. Girls fawn over him. I watched an interview with him where the interviewer told him all of these new vocab words his fans were making up because of him. Words like Bieberlicious and Biebertastic. He loved it; how could he not? My question is, does he even have a chance at staying normal? Maybe, but I think the chance is very slim.

Really, its a wonder any band can resist the urge to go diva. Fans tell them they're wonderful. People are clamoring for their autographs, for pictures with them, for the water bottle they've just flung from the stage. They're actually making money from their own creativity! So we heap all this attention on them and expect them to stay down-to-earth. Hm.

At the same time, there are bands that do stay down to earth. The reason I was even thinking about this topic was because of one of my favorite bands, Demon Hunter. I was on Facebook when they popped up in my newsfeed. They were on their way to a show in New Orleans when they broke down in Texas. Not wanting to disappoint fans or spend an outrageous amount of money on a taxi, they send out a Facebook call to their fans. Was anyone in the area and able to give them a ride? They did end up getting a ride to New Orleans and, I'm sure, putting on a great show.

I really love the way that Demon Hunter treats all of their fans like friends. They don't look down on them or take them for granted. When I went to one of their shows in May, they thanked me for coming to their show and wished me a safe trip home. They seemed very humble guys. Of course, they were contrasted with band member of another band who was upset because I was buying a different band's t-shirt that was "cheesy."

I've also been impressed by others. Showbread never stays in a hotel because they don't want to waste money on it. They either stay with friends or fans, or they sleep in their van. Project 86's lead singer gave my friend a free CD when he found out that we'd wrecked our car on the way to the show. Kids in the Way went skateboarding with another one of my friends after a show.

See? They are out there. And I hope they stay cool. Do you know of other divas or down-to-earth bands?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Crazy Week

Yes, my week has been crazy, and it probably won't get better for a little while.

A friend of mine who got a teaching job in Korea came to visit me! She found out that she had a week off unexpectedly, so she e-mailed me on Saturday asking if she could visit on Monday. Of course I said yes! It was so much fun having someone to show around and hang out with. Of course, I'm still figuring out how to get around here, so we did get lost several times, but we always found our way. Eventually.

Sarah left Friday morning, I went in to work for a tutoring session later that morning, and that night we picked my sister Amelia up from the airport! It'll be fun to have Amelia here, but it's unfortunate that I've already started working. I have tons of lesson-planning and stuff to do, and my first full work-week starts tomorrow.

I was scheduled to be working almost full-time six days a week, and I was worried I wouldn't get to spend time with Amelia. I finally talked to the admin lady at Capstone, and she thought that I wanted lots of teaching time! Thankfully, she changed my schedule around so that I'm only working in the mornings and early afternoons. The latest I'll work is three and only two days a week. So much better!

I decided that tonight I'd better skip the Night Market and Light Show that my family's going to and just lesson plan. Maybe I can get enough done that I'm not desperate every night before I teach! One can always hope, at least.

Well, back to work. My coconut sago drink and Demon Hunter to keep my company.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Music Monday

I know that Music Monday is not original. Many people do Music Mondays. But it's still a good idea. I kind of love alliteration. When I'm coming up with names for things, I often try to find a name that matches whatever it is. Like, Claudius the Crawdad. Or Bellatrice the Baracuda. You know, good stuff like that. So that's why I like Music Monday. Music Tuesday just wouldn't be right.

I know that most of you don't share my musical tastes, but I do listen to a lot more than just screamo and ska. Of course, I will occasionally want to discuss such wonderful genres, but I will also include many other kinds of music. Anyway, I think you'll be stronger, more cultured people after learning about all these different genres.

One of the books I brought to Hong Kong is Music Game Book: A World History of 20th Century Music. It's pretty exciting. It goes through all sorts of genres, histories, and people, not to mention a ton of games and trivia questions. I've been reading through it and listening to a couple songs and artists from each time period/movement. I think after I finish the book I'll be much more cultured. Or at least I'll know a bit more about music.

Since this is my first Music Monday, I won't get in too deep to anything. Just a bit of music trivia. Drum rolllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll.

What is the most expensive music video ever made?

Do you know the answer?

Answer: Michael Jackson's Scream. It cost over $7 million. That's a pretty expensive music video.
After watching it, my reaction is, how did they manage to make that video cost so much? Maybe the vases were a couple thousand dollars each. And I'm sure that those leather pans were pretty pricey. Or the hair and makeup. That's probably it.

Monday, August 2, 2010

First Day...Kind Of

Today was my kind of first day at work.

I'm working part-time for the summer, and I was supposed to start a week from today. I got an e-mail on Saturday from the admin lady asking if I would pick up a one-on-one tutoring job STARTING ON MONDAY! Yep, today. I was kind of shocked that it was so fast, but I guess that's the way it goes.

I'm working with a girl who's a junior in high school, and she goes to school in the UK. She wants to work on writing, especially for school essay tests. Also, she wants to work on poetry analysis. Hm. I like poetry, and I certainly read a ton of it in college, but I never would say I'm a poetry expert. Even our profs admit that poetry is one of the weak points in the JBU program. So I was kind of wondering how good I was supposed to be.

Thankfully, she mainly wants to work on poetry meaning. Good! I can do that. It's the stuff like what meter it's in and that junk that I'm not so strong on. Onomatopoeia. Yes.

Anyway, I had her do some free-writing, talked about outlines and thesis, and started on a writing exercise. I also showed her how to make flashcards! She said that she wanted to work on her vocabulary but had a hard time remembering the words. I don't think Asian students use flashcards very much. Sarah (roommate Sarah) told me that she often has to teach her students how to make flashcards. And I thought that was the only way to learn vocab!

Anyway, I'm glad it went well. I have to go clean the bathroom and then go pick up my friend Sarah (different Sarah) from the airport! I'm excited to have a visitor. Until next time...