I’m having a bad week. I’ve been having a bad time. I’m not sure when or how this actually started, but I’m not enjoying myself very much at the moment. Come to think of it, I’m not enjoying much at all right now.
I think this really rose to the surface yesterday after I walked past the scene of a tragic accident — yet again. This happened twice in exactly one month. So there are traffic-related accidents every day. I get it. It’s just that now, I’ve got the image of blood trickling down a dead man’s foot in my mind to go with the pool of blood on the sidewalk at 13th and Walnut.
It’s not enough that I envision myself getting decapitated or otherwise killed/slaughtered by the most trivial things (a tree, a rock, a flying piece of…thing) with every step I take (literally; I don’t walk/run down the stairs without seeing myself tumble down and knock all of my teeth out, or start crossing the street without seeing a speeding car take my leg away).
And as I typed that last sentence, the fire alarm in the building went off, making me go from one cold place to another (outside).
I don’t know if that makes me morbid or just very much aware of my own mortality. In the meantime, I might lose my hands to frostbite if I keep typing.
I think I’m starting to PMS, too. Great timing indeed.
That’s right; this weekend is officially my last weekend in the Illadelph. I didn’t have great things planned, but I wasn’t counting on throwing up multiple times today, either; life is funny sometimes.
I want to write about so many things that I don’t even know where to start. I guess I’ll do it chronologically!
Bev, my next-door neighbor, brought me a box of candy from the shore; this one is called “Summer Assortment”. The box is split in two and both sides are the same, so I took one side and mom took the other :)
Aren’t the colors just so delicious? A while ago, Bev brought back a box of creamy fudge from the boardwalk. I had never really had fudge before, and I didn’t expect it to be so sweet! So of course I only have very little at once, and the box is still sitting around. I like the candies much better.
I’m not usually a candy person, but on occasion I like to have something sugary, chewy, and sour to light up my palate a little bit. Citrus flavors are my favorite by far!
Look at these things, aren’t they cute? The orange and green flowers are creamy mint.
I did some ceramics painting when I went to Brooklyn for Susan’s birthday but my mug wasn’t going to be ready until a week later. So, Susan got it for me and recently shipped it to me:
Ceramics painting is a lot of fun; I highly recommend it for anyone who’s got an hour or two to kill.
Last weekend was my mom’s first attempt at a bird’s nest noodle dish. The cooked noodle is fried and shaped into a bowl to resemble a bird’s nest, and the rest is basically stir-fried and placed in the nest.
Here, we have shrimp, pork, shiitake mushrooms, string beans, and onions (we like to keep things simple). The sauce helps soften the noodle so that every bite isn’t a crunch; the mix of soft and crunchy is to die for!
Let’s not forget to mention that shrimp and pork make a killer combination; mom’s dumplings are fucking divine.
Homemade cooking is always best, especially when it comes to Chinese food. With this dish, for example, the sauce is always too starchy in restaurants. The shrimp has no taste, the meat can be tough, and the string beans aren’t fresh.
An interesting dessert to follow this dish is chè đậu trắng, a wonderful Vietnamese dessert consisting of black-eyed peas and sweet (sticky) rice in coconut milk. I’ve always only known it as chè đậu, because while there are many varieties of bean desserts (đậu means “beans”), this is the one my mom makes the most (we’re not crazy about chè đậu xanh (made with mung beans).
Another dessert that my mom absolutely loves is chè xôi nước, and you can see it here. She makes it every once in a while. What the Wikipedia article fails to mention is that not all the balls are big and filled with mung bean paste; there are usually a multitude of tiny balls (I call them “babies”) made of just the glutinous rice flour. They’re small, chewy, and delightful to eat. Mmm, just thinking about it makes me want to eat it — but we just had chè đậu, and too much of a good thing can do some serious damage.
Learn more about chè here.
A few days after the noodle dish, my mom made a mean mapo doufu — and I only thought of taking a picture after I had inhaled about half the dish.
The level of spiciness was severely toned down because I had a canker sore, which we attribute to “hot air” (look it up). Nevertheless, it was amazing (yes, everything that my mom makes is amazing).
What you see in the upper right hand corner of the picture is a bowl of tofu and tomato soup with small seasoned meatballs, garnished with scallions. Of course, since this is a Chinese household, it was in clear broth. I didn’t take a picture of it because it’s a rather ordinary soup for us, though it is pretty damn tasty.
Mom just came up to ask me what we should have for dinner, and I suggested mapo doufu. Sweet.
Quick update on the wasp! It’s dead:
Yesterday was my last day working at the LDC — after four years, seven months, and three days, I left the windowless annotation lab to never again return. Maybe. Of course, I was the last part-timer out of the office. I thought it was going to be an emotional day because I did enjoy working there and I really like the people I’ve met during that time. But, as with graduation, it was just a long, busy, bittersweet day. The end of an era, once more. Plus, I’m going to see a bunch of them people Tuesday evening at happy hour, so it didn’t really feel like the end.
What I didn’t know was that I would see some of them way before Tuesday — as in, last night. I drank like I didn’t know that having lots of beer on an empty stomach was bad for you. Liz drove, I got motion sickness… we went to McDonald’s after the party and it was dry and disgusting so I didn’t finish it, then drove home and I puked on the highway or wherever it is that we were.
I woke up at 6:30AM and was hungry, so I finished the McDonald’s (yeah, I know, gross) and went back to sleep. I woke up again at 9, showered because I was disgusting, made some breakfast… and I realized how shitty I felt once I got downstairs. I made eggs because that’s always helped me fight off a hangover, and naturally I had lots and lots of water. Shortly thereafter, it all came back up. I’m talking projectile vomiting here; my body wasn’t having any of it. Nothing helped. Water came back up, food came back up, medicine came back up — nothing would stay. They say you have to eat when you’re hungover. They say you have to drink a lot of water. They say you have to sleep. SLEEP. Not ride the bus to the Asian supermarket when it’s super duper SUNNY AS SHIT outside. SLEEP. Before we left the house, I had a cup of ginger lemon tea to soothe my stomach. When I got to the supermarket, I went to the restroom and puked it all out. The cup of tea. Gone.
And when I walked out of the restroom, I felt better! When we got home, I felt better! Then I remembered that my stomach had been empty since lunch time yesterday, and I felt nauseous all over again. “No, you’re just hungry,” said my mom. She made rice congee for me — plain, because I didn’t want to fuck with my stomach inadvertently — and I added some pepper, soy sauce, and a little bit of fried shallots to it. It was delicious, and my stomach was happy, just like the rest of my body.
The only other thing I had to take care of today was my purse. I put an open bottle of beer in it last night but I swear it was standing up (as if it was going to stay that way, ha!). Somehow in my drunken stupor I forgot about it and opened a new one that I downed at record speed before Liz and I left. Once we got to the car, I looked into my purse and realized that it was flooded with Heineken. But that’s okay because it’s Heineken, right? Wrong. I took all of my shit out and turned it upside down, inside out to pour out the beer (not inside the car, of course). I chucked the bottle out onto the curb (I’m so sorry for littering) and off we went.
This morning, everything smelled terrible: my keys, my wallet, my tissues, my GUM — EVERYTHING. But we had to go to the supermarket and I didn’t get around to washing the damn thing and all the little shits until about midway through this entry. Now it’s all clean! It just has to dry.
It is now almost 8PM, and I’m feeling nauseous again. Or maybe I’m just hungry.
I worry too much–no, not too much; just a lot. A heck of a lot. I worry about my future, I worry about money, I worry about my mother, her health, her job, my health, the environment, the bad weather, famine, epidemics, asteroids–yes, asteroids–and all that good stuff. I worry. That’s what I do.
Mom had a doctor’s appointment this morning and, since I’m at home now–and have been since graduation last year–I went with her to translate some and nag the doctor. Nag nag nag. I do that, too. Mom’s blood pressure is good, her thyroid is good, her lipids are good, and her colon is good. Except it’s got little “pocket” things and “it’s very important that she has good, regular bowel movements.” Her red cell count went up a little, which is good; mom’s anemic. You see, the main problem we’re having at the moment is that she’s anemic and nobody knows why. Her iron is good, B12 is good, there’s no blood loss anywhere–and yet, she doesn’t have enough red blood cells. Well then, somebody’s got to know where they are!
I read somewhere that anemia could sometimes be linked to thyroid problems. I don’t know why, but I didn’t remember that until after the doctor had left the room. Damnit. The doctor wants to send her to a hematologist, but mom doesn’t have health insurance. And specialists cost mad cash–which is essentially the root of every problem that anyone’s ever encountered…almost.
If we had money, mom would have health insurance. She’d see the specialist, and whatever problem they find would be taken care of. But we don’t have money. And so, I worry. Secretly. Very secretly. And I think that’s a problem.
Some people don’t have a problem ranting and venting and getting things out of their systems. They talk about their frustrations, their anger, their sadness, their worries. More often than not, I don’t know where to start, so I clam up. I bottle everything inside, and then, one beautiful day, out of nowhere, the dam bursts.
The dam bursts, and it’s ugly.
I like to think that I’m strong; it really helps that everybody thinks I am, too. As far as everyone’s concerned, I’ve got my feet well on the ground and my head firmly planted on my shoulders, and nothing moves me. Little do they know, just thinking about certain things can make me sob uncontrollably for the next hour or so. Sometimes, I cry myself to sleep; bet you didn’t know that! I mean for Christ’s sake, I cried during Spiderman and Monsters, Inc!
The one thing that never fails to bring me down–I’m really setting myself up for failure here–is thinking about my mom’s death. You probably think I’m crazy for thinking about that, let alone bringing it up, but I don’t believe it should be a taboo. Death is part of life; we’ve all lost someone, we’re gonna keep losing people, and, one day, we too will have to go. It’s not a secret, and I don’t think we should avoid the subject. There’s no sense in being in denial, and I’ve decided to talk about openly (don’t burst my bubble; this is my way of coping with something before it happens).
We were watching Vân Sơn–a Vietnamese variety show–this past weekend, and the theme was “Mothers.” I was fine with that until this singer came along and started singing the saddest lyrics I’ve ever heard: “We will have to say goodbye,” “When you say it, it’ll make me cry,” “It’ll be the last time I hold you near”–etc, etc. I’m gonna stop quoting it because I’m already choking up as I’m typing this, but you see where I’m going with it. I had to get up and go to the kitchen to “make lunch” so as to not cry in front of my mother.
This is another silly thing I do–or don’t do, rather: I don’t cry in front of my mother. Ever. I’ve always successfully held my tears back when she’s around, and I’m not gonna let some stupid variety show where people LIP SYNCH ruin this trend. Seriously. I’m ridiculously good at not crying in front of her, because almost every time we’re together and something warrants a good hard bawling, that “something” typically concerns her and she’s already somewhat of a mess. I’m not saying that crying is for the weak–because it’s not–but if I cry, it’ll make her believe that things are not okay; that, in fact, they’re unbelievably bad.
Does this sound stupid yet? I guess the only thing you should know in order to make sense of this is that she doesn’t think I am ever nostalgic, get sad, or worry. She doesn’t believe I do any of those things. In sum, she doesn’t think I’m human, and I think I’d rather keep it that way for now. Just for now.
I don’t want her to know that, when she passes, I will be crushed; food won’t have taste, colors will look gray, I probably won’t step out of the house for a good month at least, and everything will smell like her.