Thursday, November 30, 2006


"Is something wrong with you?", the person asked me. Her question was directed at me after I told her that my husband and I were not able to have children. Reactions from people after learning that I am married yet without children, were mostly assumptions that my body was being defective. After all, women are the ones who carry the child, and are responsible for giving birth, not the men.

Mardy S. Ireland, a psychologist with a clinical practice in Berkeley, California, wrote that traditional women who have failed to be mothers, who as childless women are perceived as a vast, unfillable empty womb and their bodies as black holes, unable to make contributions to society by producing a child. In her book "Reconceiving Women - Separating Motherhood From Female Identity", Ms. Ireland conducted a survey and found that 40% of American women do not have children. Women who biologically are denied by their bodies to carry children are labeled as traditional childless women. Society made these women feel so abnormal because of their failure to have children.

While society is most familiar and more accepting of these traditional childless women because of their medical condition, the transitional women are labeled as selfish since these women delayed child-bearing to pursue their careers until it is seemingly too late to have a child. These women who like me are not mothers have found source of personal fulfillment and purpose of our identities.

I never felt the need to explain to anyone the reason my husband and I could not have a child of our own. I also did not care to explain that we have tried to adopt but the adoption took too long and very costly. I did not care to admit that I would not be able to love a child born as a product of artificial insemination. Our childless situation was a medical condition that even expensive treatments could not correct. For more than two years, we were willing to take injections that left our bodies with bruises and dutifully taking and recording tempature on the charts everyday.

I remembered the times when I broke down in tears in the doctor's office or looking at the pretty little dresses imaging about the daughter I would never have. I remembered the times when I lied to strangers showing photos of my daughter, T. and son, W. (T and W are children of my best friends, M.) Recently when someone asked, I would tell them that my son is Brady Quinn, the quarterback of University of Notre Dame! Actually, at my age I could have a son in college. Of course, my son would receive full scholarships and we would not have to work two jobs, or worry about second mortgage to pay for the tuition.

If I could, I would trade all the fancy vacations and the investment porfolios for a child of my own. When my nephew J put his arms around my neck and said he loved me, and when I cradled his head in my arm while reading Thomas the Train story, my heart is filled with joy. I have learned to accept that I will be a childless woman. I am at peace with reality that having children isn't what makes me a woman or a person with fulfill heart.

I learned to accept my identity as a childless woman and as a complete person outside of the institution of motherhooad. I don't need affirmation from society that I am a woman with my own strong foundation. My heart is fill with love that could be shared with my nephew, children of my friends and many other children around me.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


The headline "Black Friday" prompted me to look in American Idioms Dictionary, Second Edition by Richard A. Spears, to learn more about the usage of colors in the English language. I also notice how Asian cultures assigned different meanings to the colors when compared to the English language.

While the term "black" is often used to describe something negative, Black Friday is a positive term for retailers. It is the term used to describe the day after Thanksgiving when crowds of frenzied people, mostly women, waited hours prior to the official time when the stores open at 5:00 a.m. hoping for some bargains. Black Friday is the official kick-off for the holiday season shopping.

I was never among the Black Friday shoppers. I don't like shopping and I don't need any new clothes or anything else. My brother L did the crazy thing this year and he wrote that he would never get up at 3:00 a.m. for Black Friday again. I will be sure to remind him next year.

In accounting term, "in the black" is good. When the company is in the black, it has no debt and is in financially profitable condition.

While the color red symbolizes good luck in most Asian cultures, it is bad luck in the English language when it comes to budgets and accounting. "In the red" means the company has a lot of debts and could be filing for bankruptcy.

When a person is "being a black sheep in the family", he/she is not successful as other family members (i.e. unemployed, has less education, live in a mobile home etc.) and is in trouble with the laws. I never saw a black sheep before.

Sometimes I considered myself a black sheep when compared to other successful Asians or Vietnamese Americans. I am not good with math or computer. My friend, RL, did not have a college degree, yet he is an owner of an insurance agency and a travel agency. He bought a nice house for his parents and he himself lives in Long Island with a wife and two kids.

Red could be used in negative manners such as "red tape" and "red herring". According to the dictionary, the government departments in England used red tape to tie up bundles of documents. Red tape being used to imply unnecessary delays were caused by too much rules and regulations.

Red herring is the term used when a piece of information introduced to draw attention away from the real issues. Herring is a type of strong-smelling smoked fish that was used along the trails to mislead hunting dogs.

Where as colors carry different meanings, I hope I will be "in the pink" as being in the pink means I am in very good health, physically and emotionally.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


My husband and I enjoy taking day trips to nearby historic towns such as Kimmwick, Washington and St. Genevieve. These are Missouri small towns with old world charm and rich in history. Without children and the demands of soccer games, dance lessons, or swim competitions to attend, we spend our weekend driving the Thunderbird to these small towns.

First stop is Kimmwick, Missouri, a historic riverfront town, just 22 miles south of St. Louis. In 1859, Theodore Kimms, a German dry goods merchant, purchased the land of 160 acres and named the town after himself, Kimmswick. Wealthy German merchants and stonecutters were among early settlers as the town prospered due to easy access to railroad and river transportation. The coming of automobiles sealed the fate of Kimmswick at the turn of the century. Today, the town is known for its unique antiques shops, historic buildings and landmarks, gift shops, annual Apple Butter Festivals in October, Strawberry Festivals in June, and The Blue Owl Restaurant and Bakery well known for its 40 different selections of pies and the Levee High Apple Pie (I measured the pie at 7 inches high!)

Washington, Missouri, is named after George Washington (who else?) and the family of Daniel Boone settled in the area starting in 1799. Washington was a strong supporter of the Union during the American Civil War. The town became a railroad and steamboat transportation center, and its manufacturing industry has remained strong from the end of the civil war until today. Missouri Meerschaum, Inc. the world largest corncob smoking pipe factory headquartered in Washington. There are 445 historic buildings, Bed and Breakfast inns, charming restaurants in old masions and plenty of gift shops.

The village of Ste. Genevieve, Missouri was established somewhere between 1722 and 1749. It is about an hour of driving from St. Louis. The villege is the only original French Colonial Village left in the United States. When in Ste. Genevieve, we take a walk around the town square, enjoyed looking at items in antique shops (we are not collectors and we don't know how to tell whether the old water pitcher is worth $50 or just a piece of junk), and have taste tests at various wineries. One of the historic houses is The Commandant's House which was a center for government activity during the final days of Spanish rule before the French took back the territory and sold it to the Americans. Jean Baptise Valle, its owner, came from colonial Ste. Genevieve's leading family, which had prospered in mining and mercantile business.

If you desire to leave your cell phone, pager, laptop and enjoy a weekend with peace and quiet, come to Kimmswick, Washington and Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. Here in these charming towns, you will experience the laid-back comforts of fine dinings, bed and breakfast inns while stepping back in time browsing antiques shops. Slow down and Have some good old times.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Do we have to serve turkey at Thanksgiving? That is a question every turkey would like to have an answer to. The last five years, my husband and I began having traditional Thanksgiving dinner complete with a small turkey, vegetable (green beans, corn and potatoes), honey-baked ham and an apple pie for dessert. That is a lot of food for just the two of us.

My husband took care of the cooking and I did all the clean up since I don't know how to cook. I have nothing against cooking or trying to prove that I am a liberated woman or something like that. My mother takes pride in her cooking. She has many special dishes such as Thousand Layer Cake (my brother L provided this term), Cha Gio (Vietnamese Spring Rolls), tender beef cubes with carrots and sweet onions and too many other dishes to list here. Whenever I called and my sister V was visiting, my mother would explain in details the delicious dinner she would be making. I would jokingly ask my mother to stop since I was drooling all over.

About three years ago, a restaurant called Monsoon Vietnamee Bistro opened in my neighborhood. Since then my husband and I have not visited other Vietnamese restaurants that are about 30 minutes drive compared to only 10 minutes from our home to Monsoon. Most of the time I would call Monsoon, placed an order and either my husband or I would pick up the food on the way home from work.

With both of us working and I don't know how to cook a proper meal, I have the phone numbers of most of the restaurants on speed dial on my cell phone. Besides Vietnamese and Chinese, we have a few favorite restaurants that are Mexican, Italian and Greek. I enjoy various ethnic food and am willing to even try food from Somalia, Jamaica, and East Indian (I don't care much for spicy dishes). When it comes to comfort food, it would have to be Vietnamese dishes. Pho Bo Dat Biet (Special Beef Noodle Soup) always fill my stomach and warm my heart on a raining day. When I am homesick for my mother's cooking, Banh Hoi Thit Nuong (Grilled Pork with Vermicelli) and Goi Cuon (Prawn and Pork Rolls) help me get over the lonely feelings. I long for the desserts I used to eat growing up in Viet Nam such as Xoi Nep Than (Black Sticky Rice) and Che Xoi Nuoc (Sweet Dumplings in Ginger Syrup).

I have wonderful memories of my family sharing daily meals. I remember the times when the whole family driving home from the market and we began opening up all the packages, passing the food around in the car - these were happy times in my childhood. I remembered fondly of the street vendors, especially those wanders up and down residential streets and buildings, calling out the goods from their bamboo baskets. I realize that when we eat, we do not just to satisfy hunger. The food we consume represents connections to our family and our traditions. My mother is right, how I wish I lived nearby so I could have comfort food from my mother's kitchen everyday.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


The headline "Drifter's dream sinks with homemade boat" caught my attention. The story was about a 32-year man who left home at 18, worked at odd jobs and drifted around the country. The man grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, left his home town after high school, took part in animal rights protests in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Two years later, he found his way to Maui, Hawaii.

For most of his adult life, the man taking trips to Europe, Mexico and North Africa by riding freight trains, hitchhiking and depending on the kindness of strangers who offered food, shelter and working at odd jobs.

In July of this year, he decided to built a boat from scrapwood, 55-gallon plastic barrels, a pair of French doors and a couple of outboard motors. The first 700 miles was a pleasant float down the Mississippi River. Somewhere along Illinois, a towboat got too close to the drifter's pontoon and caused it to capsize. The man escaped unharmed but his boat was somewhere in the murky water.

The man's brother who has a stable real job as a food broker, commented that everyone wishes they did not have to work and just travel whenever they wanted to. I too wish I did not have to work. I would like to be able to travel around the world, to have a lot of free time to read books, to do volunteer work and definitely not worry about a paying job.

My youngest brother, L, a talented cartoonist, works as network administrator. I am sure L would love to work at a place where he would be able to combine his drawing talents, passion for learning and knowledge of computer.

My sister, V would love to get paid to travel the world then write or report about the places she visited. In a perfect world, we would all getting paid for doing what we love. In a perfect world, I would be a university professor with tenure, giving lectures at conferences, signing my books to the adoring fans and living in a house with a wrap-around porch overlook the Mississippi River. Every morning, I would sit in an enclosed upper desk, drinking coffee and watching the eagles flying towards the horizon.

In a perfect world, I would live in Alaska in July & August because it is humid and 95 degrees in St. Louis. From September thru the end of November, I would travel around the world. I would come back to visit family during December (I'll be home for Christmas). I would live in Detroit to watch my favorite hockey team, the Detroit Red Wings and all the hockey games on Canadian television. I also make time for my football games, between Notre Dame (college football) and New England Patriots (pro football). Late June, after the Stanley Cup playoffs, I would continue my travel in between baseball games and golf.

This week I received my Social Security Statement provided free-of-charge from Social Security Administration. I don't know how I started receiving the statements yearly. Perhaps I made the request or statements are sent automatically to all taxpayers. Or it could be the government is trying to show that my tax dollars are at work by providing this service. The statement shows the amount I would receive if I work until 62 years old. I would receive more if I work until full retirement age of 67 (a few years ago it was 65). There are also estimate benefits paying to the surviving family members. The good news is that I have earned enough credits to qualify for Medicare when I am 65.

Actually, there are people who live in a perfect world, celebrities and professional sports. All these people doing what they love and getting a lot of money. Since I am not beautiful and have a good agent to compete against Ms. Nicole Kidman. Since I am not tall to even getting a tryout with the Chicago Bulls, not strong and fast to be a receiver for the New England Patriots, not talented to be a right-wing for the Detroit Red Wings, I guess I should count my blessings that I have a decent paying job, a good home and a brand new laptop with wireless connection capability.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


I used to subscribe to O, The Oprah Magazine. It is produced by Ms. Oprah, the famous talk show host of The Oprah Show. The last page in every monthly issue is the column written by Ms. Oprah entitled, "What I Know For Sure". The column supposedly serves as "a bolt of energy or a dose of wisdom" Ms. Oprah wishes to share with the readers.

As we celebrate the Thanksgiving Holiday, I thought it would be appropriate to write about what I know for sure that I am thankful for.

What I know for sure is that I am blessed with loving parents who tried their very best to provide a good life for our family. My parents took good care of us in Viet Nam and protected us on the horried journey and through our struggles the first few years in America. Even when there was not much to give, my parents provided shelter and fed us with little food they could accumulated. I know my late father is watching over us and what we have accomplished are the results of the strong foundation my parents have built for us.

What I know for sure is that the distance never divided my sister, brothers and me from loving and caring for each other. We don't always agree and often don't spend much time sharing feelings. We just know that we will always be ready to offer help when needed. We keep in touch by email and recently reading each other's blog entries. I am proud of my sister and brothers.

What I know for sure is I am grateful for the blessings of living in America. I am grateful for the safe neighborhood and good living environment with affordable housing and decent employment.

What I know for sure is my husband is good person, loving and caring. We do have problems and disagree on many subjects. Over the years, our faith and commitment to keeping our marriage intact have kept us together.

What I know for sure is that I am able to see, walk, think and function in the daily activities. I am grateful for each day and each person in my life. What the future will bring is unknown, and I am willing to work hard to live my life according to my Christian faith, my passion, my commitment to my family, to my husband and to my community. These are the things I know for sure.

Happy Thanksging - May God blessing's upon you and your family.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


I am updating my blog on my laptop while my husband is in his office transfering files from his old computer to the new PC. I am in my office on the main floor of our house and my husband's office is in the basement. The whole evening of approximately 3 hours after dinner and prior to going to bed, we were in different time space. I am sending email to my brother and sister in New York. My husband is sending email to his brothers in Michigan, Colorado and Virginia. Or he could be making purchases on Ebay from someone somewhere in the country.

Have you ever seen two people standing together, talking not to each other but to someone else on the cell phones? What about parents who talked and laughed on the cell phones while their child crying for their attention? These people are not in the moment, they are mentally away from the world around them. Physically they are not on the same planet with the people they are with.

Being present and being with someone physically and mentally is different from being at the same place, in the same room but a world apart. That was what I tried to explain to my husband that for many years even though we were together during Christmas celebration but there were 20 or 30 people around us. We were not with each other celebrating as husband and wife.

The first few years after we got married, my husband and I spent all the holidays with his parents. It was about three hours drive from where we lived. We got married in June, we spent July 4th, Labor Day in September, Thanksgiving in November, Christmas in December and stayed thru the New Year, then Easter in April, then Memorial Day in May, then July 4th - the visiting schedule started all over.

After three years, we began taking camping trips during Memorial weekend, July 4th and Labor Day. Thanksgiving and Christmas still spent with my husband's extended family. Christmas is the important religious holiday and also birthday celebration. Even after we moved to St. Louis, we still made the 8 hours drive in the stormy and snowy weather to Detroit, Michigan.

In 2005, after more than 15 years of our marriage, through the help of marriage counseling, my husband finally understood my request that I wanted to create our own Christmas traditions. For many years, my request was viewed as a conflict and disrespect to his family get-together. I did not know how to create healthy boundaries from the beginning. I should have been strong and clear about creating a family of my own and not the entire in-laws when we celebrate holidays. Family bonds are important but not when your spouse became secondary to your parents and siblings.

Traditional families are close and tight-knit but not at the expense of loving relationships between husband and wife. I believe in providing support to in-laws and to honor parents from both sides. I also believe the lines should be drawn as boundaries and placing your spouse as your priority and not an afterthought to your family. I have learned to speak up when appropriate, to stay strong and firm with requests that I felt threaten to my marriage.

I look forward to the four-day Thanksgiving holiday. I hope to just relax and spend time with my husband. I know we don't need to constantly be together. I just hope we don't spend too much time on cyberspace and neglect the real people in our real world.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


It happened again last Friday evening as I was waiting in line at the bank. I stood by the sign, "Please wait here for the next teller" while Linda, the bank teller, finished helping a drive-through customer. I have been going to this bank the last five years and Linda knows me well. Over the years, I noticed Linda always wore different pins with angels on her blouses or jackets. Last week I gave Linda a pin with an angel I found at a local art and craft show. Linda was appreciative.

A customer walked through the door, passed by where I stood and proceed to Linda's window, as if I was just standing around for no purpose. Linda gentle told the customer that I was next. I told Linda, loud enough for the rude customer to hear, "I guess I am invisible." The rude woman stepped away from the window without apologizing.

This is not the first time that someone treated me as if I was invisible. I don't want to play the race card but the only conclusion I could draw from these incidences is because I am a short Asian woman. Somehow that would give others the assumption that I would not speak up or object to their rudeness. After all, Asians are supposed to be nice and not confrontational.

Last March my sister and I was on a Western Caribbean cruise. It was an Italian cruise line. The passengers on the ship were mostly Europeans (Italians), Canadians and Caucasians (Americans). We noticed that the cruise personnel provided better services to the Italians and ignored the rest of us. A few times when my sister and I spoke up and pointed out the low level of service, the crew as well as the passengers acted surprised at our demands. Perhaps they did not expect the two Asian women to be outspoken.

One instance when I tried to take photos of the display of ice sculptures, a tall East Indian man walked over, stood in front of me as if I was not there. I firmly told him that he was very rude and that he should move. He gave me an angry look but decided to move when I made known that I would not be intimidated.

Perhaps not because I am a short Asian woman that people treated me as if I was invisible. It seems that people don't have the common courtesy or just being ignorant when it comes to minding their manners in public. I remind myself not to let others' behaviors bother me. I understand I have to choose which battle to fight and hope that the next asteroids that hit the earth will eliminate only the people without manners. In the meantime, I should sign up for a talent show under the name "The Invisible Woman".

Friday, November 10, 2006


The last few weeks, I watched the program called Natural Disasters from Discovery channel featuring major earthquakes and asteroids. I watched the series and became interested in learning more.

I learned that New Madrid is a city in New Madrid County in Missouri. According to Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, the area is famous for being the site of a series of major earthquakes in 1811 and 1812, believe to be the most powerful earthquakes recorded in the contiguous United States.

The following explanation is from the Center for Earthquake Research and Information at the University of Memphis, Tennessee. The New Madrid fault system, or the New Madrid seismic zone, is a series of faults beneath the continental crust in a weak spot known as the Reelfoot Rift. The fault system crosses from Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky through Tennessee.

A magnitude 6.0 on the Richter Scale could happen and the losses of lives, injuries and properties due to the earthquake would destroy the entire area, St. Louis included. The Center mentioned that we can reduce the effects and there are many things can be done to protect ourselves by planning, by building better structures, and make sure all citizens are earthquake prepared. I am not sure how much prepare I could do if the earthquake happened while I was driving at 65 miles an hour on the highway and the road open up beneath me or the highway split in half.

According to Mr. Robert Kraske in his book, Asteroids - Invaders from Space, there are estimate 1,500 to 2,000 asteroids one-half mile in diameter or larger in near-Earth orbits. If Earth and one of these asteroids arrive at the same point in space, the two will collide (no kidding, were they supposed to know to stop and let the other passed?). One close call came on July 4, 1991, an asteroid nearly 1,600 feet wide, passed a mere 1.6 million miles from Earth. As a person with very little of knowledge in science, was I supposed to fear a rock spinning somewhere 1.6 millions miles away could kill me? Should I worry about the prediction by the astronomers that Earth might be in danger in 2126?

There are fancy words such as Stones from Heaven or Loose Cannonballs for the killer asteroids. On February 1, 1994, a 100-yard wide rocky asteroid exploded over the South Pacific. The force of the explosion equal to that of 110,000 tons of high explosives lit up the sky. I like to think that on that day, God sent a special greetings and fireworks to celebrate my birthday!

For now, I will try not to worry about New Madrid fault line or a mountain-size rock crashing into Earth. Until the Big One hits, let's keeping on Rock & Roll.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


"I want to be a kid forever", my favorite nephew J declared. These are definitely words according to a wise six years old child.

According to the column "Hot Topic" by Lyric Wallwork Winik, in the Sunday Parade Magazine, only 20% of Americans have enough saving to survive three months of unemployment.

The article included the following questions, "What Worries You? Which of the following is your biggest worry?

The risk of unemployment.
Being able to afford a major medical emergency.
Paying off credit card debt.
Having enough for education, a home or major expense.
Saving enough for retirement.
Or finding out at the check-out counter that all your coupons expired."

Well, I made up the last statement. Every Sunday I would dutifully look through the Sunday coupons, cut out those I would be using (especially $1 off) and organize them in envelopes that marked "Household Items", "Food" and Mics. I would remember to sort through these coupons or taking them to the stores three months later. Most of the time, the coupons were expired. I cut these coupons during football games, so at least I don't feel I wasted another marble in the jar of my life. (For details about the marbles , please read my blog entry entitled, "Don't Lose Your Marble" Saturday, September 23, 2006.)

My major worries have always been being able to afford a major medical emergency or my biggest fear is being in an accident that would cause me to lose my sights or unable to function independently. The last time I was admitted into the hospital due to blood clots (Please read my entry entitled "Blood Money" Saturday, October 14, 2006), the total amount was approximately $2,500. The charges were for one overnight stay, three injections at $100 each, three blood tests, two doctor visits at 5-10 minutes each time, three meals, dinner, breakfast and lunch. Luckily the insurance company took care of 80% of the cost.

My husband and I count our blessings that we both have jobs with decent income. We paid off our mortgage a few years ago. We don't have any children, therefore, no worries about savings for college education. Besides, we always thought our childen would be smart enough to obtain scholarships and we would not have to worry about paying college tuitions.

Of course, we don't know what the future will bring. There is always the risk of being out-of-work the next day. No job is secured in this economy. We try to save for rainy days as well as for retirement. Perhaps we should learn to enjoy being a kid, appreciate simple things in life and stop worry about things that might never happen. What could we do if tomorrow the economy collasped and the country was in depression? Could we stop the company from eliminating our jobs? How would we avoid getting into an accident or having serious illness?

The world according to J, Let's be kids forever!

Friday, November 03, 2006


Last month at a business luncheon, someone commented that I have a very firm handshake. I don't care for people whose hand shakes are more like steel grips and crushing squeeze. I don't offer a limp "wet fish" hand either. I have seen women who have delicate and perfectly manicure hands (which I envy) who offer only the tips of their fingers in a very careful manner. I don't know when and how I know to have a firm hand shake.

My mother advised me to be more ladylike by walking like a lady and carry myself with feminine postures. She further added that I needed to talk softly and don't laugh too loud. When I told my husband what my mother said, C disagreed and said he loves me just the way I am, with my manly walk and unladylike laughs.

With the flu season just around the corner, I make sure that I have hand sanitizers when attending church services. After the homily and the Lord's prayers, the congregation extend hands to those around and say, "Peace be with you". If I noticed someone has a cold, I would discreetly clean my hand after our handshakes.

Last year I was on jury duty for a few days. The first morning I reported to the courthouse and was among the potential jurors gathered in a large room. There were approximately two hundred people. Every hour, the court clerk would come in with a list of names. We would be put in groups of 30. Then we moved to another floor and each group would be called into various courtrooms. We would then be asked questions by the attorneys for the defendant and for the plainstiff. Based on our answers or whether our background indicated that we would be a good juror or a bad juror for the case, the attorneys either agreed that we could serve on the trial as one of the twelve jurors, or we could be sent back to the big room and spend a day or two more until we are discharged.

"You walked into the room as if you owned the place," said the person who nominated me to be the foreman. He explained that as soon as I walked into the juror room, I began organizing pens and papers on the table. I walked around introducing myself to others. I found out locations of nearby restaurants since we had only one hour for lunch and must report back promptly. There were many office buildings around the courthouse and that could be a problem with getting a quick lunch.

A Board member mentioned to me that I had a purposeful walk and that I carried myself (all of my 5'3" frame) with confidence. Thanks to an old friend "Ann" who told me to always stand straight and never slouch. She told me to always extend your hand first to show that you are in control. I don't mind handshakes. At many meetings, I have to maintain the professionalism and courtesy to the members. I also have to be firm and make known that no one should cross the line. Working in the male-dominated construction industry I have to learn how to be helpful and courteous yet maintain the level of seriousness and not allow any intimidations.

The title of this entry is a song by the Beatles. I probably should change it to, "I don't want to hold your hand. Just a firm hand shake would do."

Thursday, November 02, 2006


I drove home at 9:15 last evening from a Board of Directors' meeting. Most of the time I participate in work-related meetings immediately after regular work hours. Thankfully dinners are served at these functions so I was never hungry and don't have to eat a big lunch.

The main road leading to my house after the exit off the highway has been repaved since last week. The yellow lines dividing the lanes have not been painted. I can't see very well at night and the plastic reflecters on the road did not help much. As I tried very hard to stay in the right lane, I thought of a letter from my brother L wrote to me in 1990. In the letter L wrote that out of the blue while waiting for the train, he thought of me and the time when he helped me refreshing my driving before I moved to Michigan.

L wrote that he smiled when he remembered how I zigzagged through the streets of Queens. How he told me to ignore the other drivers speeding passed me. And how he told me not to get nervous from the cars following closely behind me. I sure missed those long letters L wrote to me the first two or three years after I moved from New York. I understand L does not have much free time and he has a lot of responsibilities at work as well as taking care of his family. I am happy that we keep in touch by email and short phone conversations. I treasure the time we spent together, just the two of us, when I visited New York last August. I enjoy reading L's blog entries and thankful that we have this outlet to share our thoughts and daily activities.

I received my driver license in 1987 but living in New York did not require that I owned an automobile. After moving to Michigan in December 1988, in record time, I learned to drive in winter conditions such as white-out, black ice or wind and snow blowing across the highway while I was stucked behind an 18-wheeler. Once I lost control of my car trying to avoid hitting a vehicle that moved too quickly over my lane, I ended up in the median. Luckily I was able to get back on the road with the help of a highway patrol officer.

My driving skills really improved when we moved to St. Louis. The first few months, I explored all major highways and challenged myself to find and avoid interchanges that were considered as "bottle-neck" traffic. My husband often teased me about my shortcuts trying to save five minutes of driving time. I also learned to give directions to other people with instructions such as "travel east after getting off at Dorsett Road exit, then north on Schultz road".

On a philosophical thought, I believe driving is like living. You have to know where you are going, when to merge and when to speed up, when to slow down and which exit to take. While driving, you must not hesitate and back-out once you decide to move to other lane. Of course, you must check your blind spot and make sure the traffic is clear before moving over. I have seen drivers starting to move over and then quickly move back without turning on signals.

Driving is like living because you have to concentrate on your own driving while keeping an eye on traffic around you. That is called driving defensively. But of course, there are people who should not be on the road, i.e. road rage, careless people who talk and eat while driving or stupid people who endanger others because they did not want to slow down at stop signs or speed through intersection even after traffic lights already turned red.

There is one thing I still have not learned is driving a stick shift. My husband tried teaching me but I was not comfortable with the shifting and the two pedals. I am driving a 2002 Mazda and it is perfectly fine for driving to work and home, and running errands. When we went on long distance trips, I helped with the driving and only then I would drive the T-bird on a stretch of highway for hours without too many vehicles around. My husband loves the T-bird and I would not want to drive the car on busy roads.

So baby I don't want to drive your fancy Thunderbird. And I don't care much for convertible because the wind messes up my hair!


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