Saturday, February 28, 2009


I wish to share the wonderful news with my adoring fans and faithful followers. You have been so supportive and I do want to acknowledge your suffers and pains for the time you spent reading my boring blogs (TOTA and Short Handed Goal). Perhaps my blogs have served you well as a source of entertainment, providing endless humor and mind-boggling stories as you shake your head in wonder, "What is this little chubby old woman trying to say today?"

Here is the letter I received from the Sleep Institute of St. Louis. it reads "On behalf of our clients at Sleep Institute, we extend our deepest appreciation to you for putting together the most BORING blog. Your boring rants and raves, meaningless stories, specifically about your obsession with balloons getting stuck on the power lines, swaying in the wind, your writing about hockey and football, have done miracles to our clients who have suffered for so many years of treatment, yet unable to have a full night of sleep until they started reading your blog.

Our clients have almost given up that a cure would ever be found for their sleeping disorder. As a miracle, a client with the most serious insomnia started reading your blog, he fell asleep within 5 minutes. It happened to the next client, then the next 10 clients, the next 100 clients. Since then we have been prescribing your blog as the only treatment at our clinic.

TOTA, your writing is very simple and never filled with fancy words to impress (no need to check the dictionary) or pretending that you were some kind of experts. You did not "write-down" to the readers and definitely did not inflate your own "balloons" as if you were the greatest gift to the readers and the blog-world.
TOTA, we present you "The Most Boring Blog of the Year". You are now eligible for the next award, The Most Boring Blog of the Century which we are sure you will win this award too. We at Sleep Institute are grateful for your blog and are confident that you would receive all the boring blog awards as well."

Thank you, adoring fans and faithful followers, also to those who never read my blogs, for doing your part in helping me getting this award. You like me, you really really like me.


Friday, February 27, 2009


St. Patrick's Cathedral - New York City - December 2007

by Roxie Lusk Smith

In bitter anguish and despair

I sought my Lord,

And He was there -

I sought Him through

The day along;

He moved to make

My spirit strong.

In sorrow, joy, whatever be

He lifts to bless

The whole of me.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Remember, O man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.
(Latin: Memento homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.) Genesis 3:19

I took the above photo at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. It was a raining day in December 2007. How appropriate to have the sign "One Way" in a cemetery. No matter how rich, how smart or how good looking a person is, he/she will eventually die, just like everyone else. We all move toward "one way" of living and sooner or later reaching the inevitable final stage. Cemeteries are kind of like museum without walls, unspoken stories of the past, a quiet place for walking, some provide beautiful landscapes, historic headstones of famous people, some with exquisite art works and definitely a place for thoughtful reflection. Green-Wood is Brooklyn's great Victorian Garden Cemetery. The first burial took place in 1840. More than 70 individuals who died in the September 11, 2001 attack were buried at Green-Wood. Famous people and mayors of New York City were buried here.

Ash Wednesday Mass was at 7 p.m. so we just had a piece of toast and big glass of juice after we both got home from work. We were supposed to fast and abstain from meat all day. It was not that difficult except during a committee meeting when lunch was being served and a tray of cookies was placed in front of me.
It was written that "Everyone wants to go to heaven but no one wants to die". I often wonder if the person does not believe in heaven or hell, then what happens to the soul when the body died. I am not trying to "shove my religion down anyone's throat" or impose my faith on the readers, just trying to understand the other side of non-believers. If there is no such thing as the souls, then what exactly are the emotions such as love, guilt, sense of longing, connections or feelings?

I always visited my Dad's resting place (niche) whenever I was in New York. Most of the time the visit would include Mom, my brother, sister and my husband. My sister-in-law and her family (from mainland China) believe that death is bad luck and cemeteries are places to stay away from as, again, places of bad luck. Of course, it is not good luck when a person passed away, but in their supertious minds, these people don't consider that dying is part of life. For example, when someone in the family died, members of this family must not go to other people's homes and no one would visit that family either, for a period of 30 days or longer. We were "instructed" not to look at the casket when it was being carried to the hearse. After we came home from the funeral, we were supposed to wash our face first before entering the house. It was February and freezing cold that day! I did not care for any of these silly practices.

I usually asked for a moment alone with my Dad, just quietly said that I missed him and that we always think of him. "Rest well, Dad. I love you." before leaving.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


(I finally found the receipt showing the name of the bakery. Here it is for your next trip to Rome. COMPAGNIA DEL PANE - Forno 29 SRL Via Fabio Massimo N. 87 / A-89 00192 ROMA - - Tel 06/3241605. Make sure you say that TOTA sent you so I would get my commission - haa haa)
We found this wonderful bakery near our hotel, the day before we left Rome. Our limited Italian did not stop us from ordering, pointing at the items and then putting up two fingers, again and again. Wish we had more time to enjoy all the delicious Italian sweet treats.

Monday, February 23, 2009


I have been reading the Grand Haven Tribune online for over a year. I just want to keep up with what is happening there, not that it would matter to me or any changes would impact my life here in St. Louis. My husband and I have fond memories of living there, it was where we began our life together as husband and wife and the town is charming with its downtown, the boardwalk along the beach, the lighthouse and lot of snow in the winter!

I had a good chuckle when I saw the headline "Neighbors want cemetery expansion plans to die", how appropriate! I know exactly where the cemetery is and I could understand why the homeowners who live nearby would not want the expansion plans. According to the article, residents and council members dislike the idea of cutting down 82 trees and disruption of natural dune habitat. Also, the homeowners would not want to BBQ in their backyards and looking at the headstones. The chairman of the cemetery board explained that expansion plan was necessary because of the high demands of adjacent burial plots for families wishing to bury loved ones (who were already dead, of course) side by side.

I sure hope it will work out for the cemetery expansion plan and the residents so the issue could rest in peace!

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Would it be great if we have "life signs" like these so we would know not to make the wrong decisions such as accepting dead-end jobs or choosing careers that down the road would be "no outlet" after you already invested 10, 20 years of your life or walking down the church aisle toward the altar and seeing the sign "wrong way" before you said "I do" and made promises to the "wrong" person, "till death do us part"? I noticed that in the cities, all the "dead end" signs were replaced with "no outlet". Some streets only have small yellow signs "no outlet" above the green street signs. I guess people don't want to come home, turning into their street and see the sign "Dead End" everyday! Only the country still have the dead-end signs as the people who live in the country don't get excited over small stuff or not overly sensitive about a street sign like city folks do.

When we were looking for a home after moving to St. Louis in October 1994 from Michigan, we were informed that we had to be willing to pay more for homes that were in cul-de-sac. Homes that were backed to wooded area would cost a little more. But the realtors could not tell us if these wooded area would not be developed in a few years. We did not want to pay an extra 10K for the feature and down the road, looking at our neighbor's bathroom window instead of the trees.
I saw a sign that reads something like God gave us freewill and He allowed us to learn from our mistakes and that is the reason for U-turn. There are times in my life I pray for a sign from God to tell me what to do or whether the decision I was about to make is right or wrong. Then when things don't work out, I blamed God for not answering my prayers or sending me the wrong signal. Could it be that I only looked for signs that I wish to see and ignored those I did not like? Why is that when things are going well, we praised ourselves for being smart, passing batches of honors, calling each other "heros" and took credits for making miracles happen. Yet, when disasters take place, most of the time generated from our destructive hands, from the evils minds of certain group of individuals, or from our stubborn refusal to believe that we are just small particles in the universe that God created, suddenly we acknowledged God's existence (not that He needs our acknowledgment), blamed God for all the terrible things and asked why a merciful God would allow such horrible things happened.

Whenever I see the sign "Wrong Way", I always thought of the people for whatever reasons (drunken, old age or just careless) caused fatal accident by driving the wrong direction, did they not see the red sign with white letter clearly written "WRONG WAY"? Why is that the people who caused accidents only receive minor bruises and the driver/passengers in the other vehicles usually died? I saw on the news last night that a pick up truck driven by a drunken driver (probably just coming from Mardi Gras in Soulard) rammed into the back of a sedan, sending it into incoming traffic, killing instantly both the driver, 26 years old husband and his 24 years old wife and their 4 months unborn child. It is not simply an accident, it is murder and the drunken driver should be charged with such crime.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Following words of wisdom from Qaptain Qwerty, I gathered all the unused credit cards and cut them up into little pieces. I put the pieces in a ziplock bag and for a few weeks, scattered them all around town, one piece into each trash can, wherever I happened to be. I am keeping only two credit cards, a Discover Card to earn cash rewards and a Visa to earn points towards gift card at bookstore. This leads me to share a dilemma as I am having trouble letting go of my books. I love them all and though I have donated almost 100 books to the library for the book sales, I still have many books that I want to keep. Mind you, these are not collectors' items or special editions or even remotely by well-known authors. Just books that I enjoyed reading and could not bring myself to give away. If I have to choose between clothes and books, I would rather keep the books. I am planning to increase my clothing donation to make up for the books that I am unwilling to part. I also placed six pairs of shoes in the "Shoes for Kenya" collection (bottom photo). According to the newspaper article, the Shoeman ( already collected over 100,000 shoes, enough for fund to drill one well. His ministry continues the collection with the goal of providing addition wells to many more villages.
I just learned the meaning of WEEDING from a little brochure at the library. Weeding is the continual process of reviewing, evaluating and removing outdated or physically dilapidated materials from library collections. The weeded material will be sold in library, book sales, recycled and given away to non-profit or educational organizations. I should do some weeding with the books I have on the bookshelves below too.

Friday, February 20, 2009


The Macomb Daily and the Detroit News reported that a 68-year Michigan woman faced possible jail time after she painted over a fire hydrant near her home. The hydrant had been painted white with black spots by school children of Mount Clemens, a suburb of Detroit, as part of a citywide art project.

The old woman argued that the black-and-white hydrant would be difficult to see in the winter and safety was at stake. She painted the hydrant yellow, the color it was supposed to be. She was charged with misdemeanors of defacing public property and violating the fire code. She could have been fined $500 and faced up to 90 days in jail. Luckily, a District Judge had some common sense and dismissed the charges against the old woman. That is the legal system for you. No wonder we are in this terrible mess with budget deficits and too many oxygen thieves! After reading this story, I would never look at the fire hydrant the same way again and not think of this story.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


I have been waiting for this game for so long and my hometown New York Rangers finally visited the St. Louis Blues on Monday, February 16th. Being that the teams are not in the same conference, the last time the Rangers (Eastern Conference) met the Blues (Western Conference) was in 2005. I left work early to make sure that I got to the arena to take photos of the players during warm-up. I usually take photos when the players coming out, onto the ice, with the back of their jerseys shown and when they coming back, off the ice, showing their "lovely" faces. (Take a cold shower, TOTA.) During the game I take photos of face-offs and when the players celebrated when a goal was scored. I also try to take photos of the fights and when players talking to each other during commercial breaks.

After the game, as soon as I got home I turned my computer on and started to upload the photos onto a CD. I did not want to take any chance that I might "accidentally" erase the memory stick again! (I am crying just thinking about how I erased the game Rangers v. Canadiens at Madison Square Garden in December 2007.) I double checked to make sure the photos were on the CD. I kept the photos on the stick until I uploaded the photos onto my blogs, just to be sure. An idea just came to my little head, when I go to New York this coming May, I plan to take a tour of the MSG (no, not the MSG in Chinese food), and take photos inside the arena, the rink and perhaps even the lockers room.
Scott Gomez #19 Center - Anchorage, Alaska, is my favorite player on the Rangers roster. I like him even more now that he is no longer playing for the New Jersey Devils.
What fun would be at a hockey game without a fight or two? New York Rangers v. St. Louis Blues - Monday, February 16, 2009.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


"Dan Bylsma has been named head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins," with great excitement that I informed my husband of the wonderful news. Bylsma is a former NHL forward for the Los Angeles Kings for five seasons. Dan signed with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2000 and made it all the way to Stanley Cup Finals in 2003. The Ducks lost to the New Jersey Devils. Knee surgery and other injuries took a toll which resulted in Bylsma's retirement as a player in 2004. Bylsma began his coaching career with the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks in the American Hockey League. In 2006 the New York Islanders selected him as an assistant coach. Dan was the head coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton "Baby Pens" AHL team when he got the phone call from the general manager of the "Big Pens" with an offer he could not refuse.
"Why all the excitment, TOTA?", you may ask. Because Dan Bylsma is a native of Grand Haven, Michigan and my husband played in a softball team with Dan's father, Jay. We knew Dan's family as they all are very athletics and the kids were standout in many sports, including golf, baseball, and ice hockey. The family was also community minded and good people you would like to associate with. For 11 years Bylsma provided financial assistance thru a charity to assist youths with expense of playing hockey.
Dan and his father, Jay has written four books, including the one below, "So You Want to Play in the NHL" and also "So Your Son Wants to Play in the NHL". The books were written to share the lessons and values instilled in the Bylsma children by their parents. It is nice to see good things happen to good people who reached their success thru hard work and perseverance.
Now I am sure Dan probably won't remember us and would question who is the chubby Asian woman that holding the sign "Congratulations Coach Bylsma! Good Luck to you and the Pens". We are so proud of you. Good luck and best wishes Dan.
There is a very nice display of photos and items belonged to Dan Bylsma at Apple Bee Restaurant in Grand Haven, Michigan. The gallery is a tribune to Dan Bylsma for his NHL career with the Los Angels Kings, photos and items from his college days at Bowling Green State University.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


I was not suprised to see this Vietnamese restaurant Old Saigon when we were in Nice last July. Viet Nam was a French colony from 1861 to 1954 when the French was defeated in the fierce battle of Dien Bien Phu. The owner of this restaurant could be among the large population of Vietnamese living in France even before the Fall of Saigon in April 1975. It was nice to see Old Saigon in Nice!

Nice, France - July 2008

Monday, February 16, 2009


I began to follow Frozen Cheese when it was named Blogs of Note in November 2008. It is an interesting blog. I appreciate Tamsin posted lot of great photos and not information way over my head as science is not my cup of tea! Frozen Cheese is one of the blogs I follow regularly, almost daily, after my All-Time favorite blog, Qaptain Qwerty (of course)!

The header reads "Tamsin has just set off on a new adventure. She is southward bound once again. This time headed to the fastest warming region of antarctica, the peninsula glaciers there are melting, possibly revealing undiscovered reservoirs of frozen cheese. Tamsin can't wait to find out!"

And About Tamsin Gray - Rothera Research Station, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica. "I am an Antarctic Meteorologist, working for the British Antarctic Survey, living at Rothera Research Station. Rothera is on the Antarctic Peninsula, one of the fastest warming regions of the planet. But what does that mean for the base cheese supply? Are the days of frozen cheese numbered? I'm about to find out."

Keep up the good work, Tamsin. Your adoring fans and faithful followers awaiting for more posts from your blog.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


I took the above photo during a trip to Washington D.C in July 1989. We were walking around, and I asked my sister and brothers to slow down to wait for Mom and Dad. As I turned around, I saw Mom and Dad, after more than 30 years of marriage, still holding hands, a moment of true lasting love when Dad leaned over and gave Mom a gentle kiss. Mom had a smile of a blushing bride. I am so grateful that I was able to capture the moment and thankful for the gift of seeing the love my parents had shared.

I am sure I am not the only woman who does not care for Valentine's Day. I am not against the occassion and everyone has the rights to celebrate what is important to them and their relationship. From the beginning of our courtship, I informed my husband that in my humble opinion Valentine's Day is marketing ploy invented by florists, restaurants and greeting cards companies. When I was single living in New York, I remembered on Valentine's Day, the women in the office would wait anxiously for their flowers be delivered, sent by their significant others. Those that did not get the flowers, except me, were disappointed, felt rejected and unloved.

This entry is not about Valentine's Day. It is about the love my parents shared for more than forty years. Their marriage was arranged but not forced. Neither Mom nor Dad was perfect and they went through many difficult times. Dad told me one time that he would not able to go on living without Mom. He said that he would prefer to pass away first. Well, he got his wish!

Here is a previously published post in April 2008 about how my parents got married.

"Like many marriages during that time, my parents' marriage was arranged by someone who was respected and knew both parents from business circle. The marriage was arranged but not forced. My maternal grandparents were business owners and respected in the village. There were many matchmakers already inquired about their youngest and only daughter. My Mom was an attractive young lady combined with her parents' wealth explained the long list of many suitors. After the initial contact by a business acquaintance who was also a well-known matchmaker, my paternal grandfather (A Cung) made a visit from Cau Ngang (my Dad's birthplace) to my maternal grandfather (Che Cung) in Cau Tau Ha (Mom's birthplace). A month or so, another meeting was arranged, this time my Dad came along. The first time Mom saw Dad was when she was asked to serve tea to A Cung, Dad and other guests as an informal face to face introduction. Mom said that she was so nervous that when she put the teapot down in front of Dad, she almost slammed the teapot on the table.

Later, Mom's parents (Che Cung & Che Pho) asked Mom whether she liked Dad and whether she would agree to marry him. Mom knew she was not forced and could refuse the arrangement. Fortunately for Dad, Mom responded that it was up to her parents. Che Cung mentioned that he had consulted others about Dad's family, his characters and based on Dad's facial features, he thought Dad would be a loving husband and a good father. Che Cung said that he did not pay attention to the fact that Dad's family wealth was not of the same level. His only concern was finding a husband who would be faithful and loving to his only daughter.

After the engagement was announced, Dad would visit Mom every other month during his business trips. They would go for a walk or to the park, not alone but with two elderly ladies following and keeping watch. There was no such thing as "roadside kissing" or drive-in movie, Talk about the big difference compared to what takes place in today's society regarding relationships and marriages. Mom still remembered the poems Dad wrote to her and the long letters she sent back each week.

The wedding was a three-day celebration with lot of relatives, and guests from both families attended. In the traditional setting, the groom's family took care of all the expense for the wedding and presented gifts to the bride's family. There were many people who came to the wedding with gifts of expensive items and money to show respect and to express their gratitute for the help Che Cung had assisted them over the years.

My favorite story was that as part of the wedding celebration, Che Cung gave a large sum of money to build a school in the village. The principal wanted to name the school after Che Cung and he refused. (Che Cung suggested that the school had the same name as the village.) Talk about being a true humanitarian and modesty.

From the humble home in Viet Nam, to the journey seeking freedom in the open sea, to the little hut in the refugee camp, to the new land in America, each step we took towards a good life, Dad was there with us, providing and caring the best way he could. Happy Anniversary, Mom & Dad. Thank you, Dad, for all you did for us."

There you have it, a true moment of love and a lifetime of lasting love.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


If Tears Could Build a Stairway

And Memories a Lane

I'd Walk Right up to Heaven

And Bring You Home Again.

(Portofino, Italy - July 2008)

Friday, February 13, 2009


"You need to come home," was all my brother VL had to say as I understood that Dad had reached the end of his life. It was Tuesday, February 6, 2001.

I immediately left the office, called my husband and then called the company's travel agency to check for the next available flight to New York. As we quickly packed for the trip, I made sure that the above photo and a rosary were in my purse. In the photo Dad looked so happy and proud at VL's wedding in 1997.

We arrived around 10:00 p.m. and went straight to the hospital from the airport. I was composed until I saw my Dad, Dad saw me, always a happy-go-lucky person, he smiled but his sunken eyes and weak voice said it all, I broke down, accepted that it was the end. Two years of chemotherapy destroyed Dad's body but the cancer never took away the spirit of the man and the love for his family. I held my Dad's frail body and for the first time was able to let all my tears flow, no longer holding back, while Dad telling me "Don't cry. It will be ok".

Every night I prayed and held onto the rosary as I tried to get some sleep. I listened to Dad's breathing through the machine. I kept watch whenever Dad tried to turn or tried to reach for the water. As I applied the lotion to help relieve the itching on his dying body, Dad asked, "Con khong ngu sao? Lo cho Ba nhung cung phai giu suc khoe." (Are you not sleeping? Make sure you don't neglect your own health while taking care of me.) I requested that I assisted the nurse when we washed Dad to make sure that he was not in pains when we tried to turn him. I noticed that even as gentle as I could holding him, his body was bruised easily. His liver was no longer functional and the rest of his body began to shut down. On February 10th Dad was no longer able to speak. His eyes closed but he was able to smile and squeezed my hand as I continued telling him about the weather, news stories, what happened at my work and improvement we were planning to do to our house in St. Louis. I sat next to the bed, holding Dad's hand, hoping that he would open his eyes, smiled, asked for water and started speaking again. It was one way conversations with little response from Dad but I held on, unable to let go of the last physical connection we had.

Looking at the photo of my Dad at VL wedding gave me strength. Dad looked so happy and proud. I wanted to remember my Dad being healthy, not the frail body destroyed by cancer and two years of chemotherapy. My Dad died peacefully in the evening of Tuesday, 13th of February. I don't want to remember the time we were together in hospice, I rather remember the good times we as father and daughter going to soccer and basketball games. The funny story how Dad protected me as the fans rushed into the stadium for a sold-out game. I want to honor my Dad for the life he lived, for the courage he showed when he held our family together through all the rough years, how he helped other people on the boat journey, for the lessons he taught us by living a life of integrity and great characters and his love as a husband and a father. And that is how I will always remember my Dad.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


I found this little pocket calendar from 1979 which I carried with me when we left Viet Nam. I am surprised that almost 30 years later, the calendar is still in very condition, a little worn out but everything is readable. On the first page, I forgot that I wrote the followings - (bottom photo)

"Where there is a will, there is a way. (That is pretty good for someone who not yet was able to communicate in English!)

In Vietnamese "Tuong lai trong tay, Tu minh tao lay" Translation - "Your future is in your hand, Create your future."

Another writing in Vietnamese "Nhan loai truoc tien, Gia dinh ke tiep, Ban than sao chot." Translation - "Mankind first, Family next, Self last." Meaning we must do/serve what is good for mankind first, next is family and serving our own interest last. (I was 19 years old, full of dreams and very naive. Now I am just a typical hockey/football fanatic, prioritize my life around NHL and NFL schedules, cynical, self-centered and more concern with earthly possessions and what is good for me.)
The date at the left bottom corner was July 23, 1979. We were living in a hut on Berhala Island, a temporary refugee camp. (Read Qaptainqwerty blog for more details about our time on the island.)
On the last page of the calendar, I recorded the date - May 30, 1979 when we first arrived Karamut Island, all other dates and when we were transferred, how long we stayed in each of the four islands - Letung (one week), Berhala (three months), Kuku (a month and a half), Galang (one month - for some reasons I thought it was longer than that), and on November 14th to a processing center called Airraja, then a month and a half later to Unggat (for just one night, a very memorable night even to this day) and finally the boat and bus trip to Singapore on New Year Eve before the freedom flight to America on January 10, 1980. Berhala Island was where I was so sick that everyone thought I was going to die. Some even thought the Mountain God wanted me for a wife! But then he found out that I was domestically challenged and only interested in sports. The Mountain God decided to let me go and picked a pretty girl with more useful skills.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


We have warm weather the last few days. I did not need a coat when I went out in the afternoon. I look forward to going to the Missouri Botanical Garden and to the zoo to see the lions, the tigers, the bears, oh my!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


My adoring fans and faithful followers probably ask, "TOTA, what with your obsession of balloons getting stuck on the power lines?" Below is a previously published post which might explain where it all began and when my obsession (I think it is fascination) started with balloons got stuck on the wires, struggling to break free. I think it might have been the memories of living in the refugee camp (Indonesia) for 7 months after our boat journey from Viet Nam in 1979. After five days on the open sea, evaded the pirate ship (it was a miracle that we were not captured), we were rescued and transported to an island in Indonesia. We broke free from the Vietnamese communist government but we lived in limbo, people without a country, without a home, waiting to be accepted for settlement but did not know where (which country). There were many refugees that waited for years before leaving camp and after that they did not reunite with their family even after their settlement. My family was very lucky that we were together, from May 1979 when our planned escape in the middle of the night leaving My Tho, South Viet Nam to when we came to New York, and then I ran off to Michigan after I got married in 1989!
In previous post I wrote "As I was sitting in traffic, I saw one of the balloons broke away, (from a parking lot at a car dealership) flew off but then caught on the wires. As I watched the balloon swaying in the wind, I thought how sometimes in our lives we feel as if we were the balloons stuck on the power lines. No matter what you try to do, you could not break free. Just like the balloons, you were up high but going nowhere, flapping around in the wind, slowly losing the air inside, then the emptiness took over, still hanging on the wires but nothing left of what was once a pretty balloon full of air."
There a pink balloon that flew as high as the height of the ceiling of a meeting room at a community center. I was there that morning for a business seminar. The pink balloon must be from a birthday party that took place the day before. The party either was for a little girl or a baby shower for someone who already knew that she was going to give birth to a baby girl. Or it could be a bridal shower and pink was the bride-to-be favorite color.

One time we were at a hockey game and the litle boy next to us wanted a bag of cotton candy. The father pushed the boy's hand away when the boy reached for a bag of pink candy from the vendor's container and said, "No, pink is for girl, take the blue one." The boy insisted on taking the pink candy and started crying when the father told the vendor to give the boy a bag of blue candy. (Since then I noticed that the candy has both colors, blue and pink, in the same bag.) The father had an embarrassed look on his face as if somehow his manhood was invalidated because his little boy chose the color pink instead of blue as traditionally the color of manly man/boy. (Although a girl, I never care for pink.)

I also thought the pink balloon getting stuck on the ceiling could be interpreted as the "bamboo ceiling" for Asian American women. Career coach Jan Hyun wrote in her book, Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling - Career Strategies for Asians, that traditional Asian cultural values can conflict with dominant (non-Asian mainstream) American corporate culture resulting in lost career opportunities and not being promoted or included in corporate boardrooms. Asian Americans are often not considered as authoritive and management materials. I could be as qualified as the other person but employers would not give me the same consideration because as an Asian woman I would not be able to speak with authority at negotiation tables or the labor unions might not accept the terms/conditions coming from a woman., especially an Asian. I could talk and know more about football and hockey than the men at work and I could even learn to swear like a drunken sailor but I could never be treated as equal.

Well, enough of my rants and raves. My goodness, it all started with the a balloon getting stuck on the power lines, swaying in the wind, trying to break free!

Monday, February 09, 2009


Remember when mother said don't make faces or your face would be stuck that way? Here is proof that mother was right. Not sure if this "thing" on the tree looks like a face of an old person without teeth or a smiling lion without its mane. What does it look like to you? (Photos taken at Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri - September 2008).
In future post I plan to write about the Taoists of ancient China regarding physiognomy, the study of a person's facial appearance as a means of determing personality and mood. It is believed that a person's inherited features are indications of characters. Furthermore, the person's future is reflected by some of the 108 features/spots on the person's face.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

DISPLACED AMERICAN Ten Years in France and counting

Selecting the button "Next Blog" is like looking at all the books on the shelves at public libraries, so many interesting blogs from so many people, from so many places/countries far away, around the world. I don't know the exact reason that this blog "Displaced American" by Alisa came up when I hit the button "Next Blog". It could be because Alisa wrote about her family in St. Louis or I wrote in my blog that my husband and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary with trip to London and Paris. Whatever reasons, or whatever we have in common, I am very glad that I randomly found Alisa's blog. I enjoy reading about her interesting life in France and about being a good mother to her two adorable children, Benjamin and Noah. I wish I had Noah curly hair, I would save a lot of money not getting a perm every six months.

Alisa wrote that she is "an American who has been living in France on and off since 1996, and on a permanent basis since 1999. I married my French husband in 2000. I acquired dual nationality in 2004. Our first French-American son was born in Dec. 2005 and our second in March 2008." Both Benjamin and Noah are adorable little boys but of course like any kids, they misbehaved, got sick, "random screaming episodes at night - Noah", wiggly when given a haircut - Benjamin (I was exactly like Benjamin when I was a kid. My mother had to cut my hair at home because the people at the barbershop could not stand me and asked mother not to take me in their shop again as I caused so much trouble each time she tried to take me there for a haircut).

Talk about small world, in November 2008 when Alisa and her family came back to St. Louis for a visit, she wrote about visiting the Museum of Transportation on Barrett Station Road. My office is the next street from the Museum. We probably passed each other that day without making the connection.

When I first read Alisa's blog, I felt as if I invaded her personal space. I also did not want her to think that I was like some strangers who attach themselves to someone and made believe that they were long lost relatives. We probably would never meet in person or became buddies. I think it is nice to read blogs about other people and it is wonderful when lasting friendship developed. Some bloggers are very popular that they have thousand of followers. I don't think I would achieve such fame as my blog is boring and I write only for myself and about things not too many people find interesting.

I do appreciate the random chance to know about Alisa and her family. Twenty years from now when Benjamin and Noah became famous (Prime Minister of France or President of United States), I would be able to say that I knew them when they were children and that I was a faithful followers of Alisa's blog before she became rich and famous!


Related Posts with Thumbnails