Wednesday, April 30, 2008



The Husband and I began recreational coed volleyball tonight. When we first arrived, the coach lady told us about a tourney we could play in as a team in late June. I thought, "You may take that back when you see me try to play."

To my great surprise, I was not the worst player there. Of course, the coach lady gave me key pointers at the very beginning, while we all hit the ball around a bit to warm up. Then we played many games. I got it over the net sometimes. Wild.

It was an interesting demographic swatch. All ages--teens (all girls) to me & G, 30 each, up to people in late 40s/50s/early 60s. I would say that 70% of the players were Asian-American, specifically Chinese. I wondered why. Smatters of Chinese language broke out here and there, which was cool. Is volleyball popular among Asians or Asian-Americans?

This just in:
It seems that volleyball has long been popular both in China, where it was introduced by missionaries, and in Chinatowns across the US.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Spring of Bathroom: Part 1

Until today, our bathroom walls were covered with what we believed to be the most hideous extant wallpaper in the known world. Why would one wallpaper a bathroom, and with dull gold, striped paper topped by a foot-wide border of precious pink and purple pansies and finished with fussy crown molding, at that?

Today, we scraped that layer off to find what is truly the most hideous extant wallpaper in the known world: a bright teal and purple fan pattern with silver sparkles throughout. We scraped until our arms ached, and still the walls are caked in dried, crumbling, yellow glue that we pray is nontoxic. The glue becomes gum on our scrapers. In random patches, a bright peach paint mysteriously emerges from beneath the glue, although most of the walls are paintless.

The smell of vinegar solution and stale glue lingers in our nostrils. The peeled, wet paper backing felt like soiled toilet paper beneath our feet. Luna Cat alternately supervised, gave us something to scoop, and napped in the kitchen.

The oddest part is, the bathroom looks infinitely better with bare walls with peach splotches than it did with that nasty mask of wallpaper. The room appears brighter, with higher ceilings.

PS. I found a single, dark hair embedded in one stratum. I briefly considered getting a DNA test so I could track down whoever committed this decoration atrocity and ask, Why, WHY?

Word of the Day: Equanimity

I have certain nihilistic tendencies, but I channel them into equanimity.

My mother, while a very loving woman, is devoid of equanimity. She carries other people's worries. Her classroom comes home with her every single day. She finds the Sad in the funny stories I tell about my Alzheimer's patients in hospice. She cannot stop worrying about my sister, her students, my brother, random people she reads about in the news, or the state of education in Massachusetts.

After I gave shiatsu to a yogini friend this weekend, she said, "Sometimes I feel spaced out or exhausted after massages. Instead, I feel like the shiatsu put me in a state of equanimity."


Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Lost Art of Conversation

What has happened to conversation? Are there no charming conversationalists left in the world? The typical "conversation" I witness these days is not dialog, but a series of parallel monologues. Then--if at an especially good gathering-- someone may jump in to make a witty quip, to which another picks up the thread with his/her own monologue, anon.


Here are some tips for making conversation:
  1. Show interest in the other people present. Ask the occasional question. Listen to the response.
  2. Do not drone on forever. Make a pleasantly succinct response to a question, then turn the spotlight to someone else, maybe by asking a question in kind.
  3. Do not be terse when asked a question. Give a thoughtful answer of more than two words. Allow your response to be a platform for continuing conversation.
  4. Draw others into the conversation. "Oh, John, I recall that you also studied art/lived in Canada/enjoy fishing/speak Swahili."
  5. The bottom line is, become engaged with the other conversants. It is not your show. Nor is a festive occasion your private nap time. It may take practice, but make an effort and you shall be rewarded. If it is too much for you, make a gracious early departure.
kStyle, who was just stuck for 4 hours at a party where she could not engage anyone in conversation except the guy whose attention was divided with watching his toddler, nor did anyone ask her a single question, so busy were they monologuing at each other bitching about work, except for the person texting on her cell.


Lots of sleep, lots of resting, and the beautiful weather is making this week much better than the last. Lots of laugh therapy, too: We're watching The Best of the Colbert Report.

I think I've found the right graduate program for me (I think), and I'm looking forward to that. Explaining to the admissions counselor why I want to teach ESL was helpful, too; reaffirming, I suppose. It seems that whenever I make a big decision, Supporters of the Decision line up on one side and Detractors on the other, even among the few people I tell. (Incidentally, this is why I tell very few people about Big Decisions.) I can be susceptible to the Detractors, who often voice my own reservations about the Decision, and whose arguments are specific and logical, topic sentences supported by details in a 5-paragraph essay. The Supporters are vague and enthusiastic--a pep rally--because if you see the plus side, there's no need to elaborate. Explaining my goals and reasons to the admissions counselor, then, was like having the chance to rebut the Detractors to myself by making the unspoken argument of the Supporters.

Do you experience this phenomenon of Detractors and Supporters? It strikes me as universal.

Friday, April 18, 2008


Do any of y'all get migraines? I think I may be having my first bought ever. Feels like fingers of pain are squeezing behind my left eye, and then radiating down the side of my head, which feels like an overripe melon with tender streaks of pain. And nausea. The bright spring sun, which I would normally welcome, is blinding and painful. This lasts for hours, then goes away after I get home and can finally sleep for an hour, then comes back the next day.

Is that it?


Things are suddenly busy. Last Wednesday, I visited an ESL department and it just clicked, this is what I want to do, for reals, and I am gathering up all my graduate school application materials. At the same time as I'm requesting reference letters, two people asked me for references--one for massage licensing, one for a character reference for the Bar. Then, we had our annual department retreat at Day Job this week, which means missing a day of work, which means scrambling at work, as well. Throw in that we're having the first beautiful weather of the year, plus I was in the last pages of The Amber Spyglass, and we have a tired, tense kStyle with piles of work and a desire to just stretch out in the sun and read.

So, I divert you to the important anthropological studies going on here.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Yay, Facial

Today, I got my second-ever facial. I love facials. Love, love, love. My skin feels so happy and healthy, much more elastic. I get terribly dry skin, and it can feel like I'm wearing an uncomfortably tight, scratchy sweater on my face. But the aesthetician knows just how to peel off the scratchy layer, ever so gently, and then apply layers of soothing, cooling moisture. Ah, renewed.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Chefs Ming Tsai and Jacques Pepin are teaching me how to make casseroles. Ming's creation is rather like a mooncake, with a characteristic flaky, stamped crust on top, only filled with red pork and gelatinous pork fat. Mssr. Pepin's has a bechamel sauce, into which we are putting broccoli and cauliflower. Because of all the fat in the dishes, I'm feeling grateful I did aerobics earlier when the moon was full. Jacques is about to add some sort of meat to the casserole when the air raid sirens start going off.

Damn alarm.

I keep hitting snooze and drifting back into the dream--Ming is trying to tell me something, and it's more real to my consciousness than the sirens and the room beyond them--but my husband helps me get up.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


I'll be visiting a middle school ESL department, and I'm looking forward to it! Of course, my shiatsu practice attracted a new customer, and I'm thinking, "As soon as I pick a new course, my practice will become wildly successful." What to do, what to do.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

How to Amuse the Proprietors of the Indian Market

I used my last masala chai teabag that G's friend had brought back from India. Last time, I had to wait until Arun returned home, and then back to Boston, for more tea. This time, I was more savvy. I saved the last 2 teabag wrappers (in case I lost one of the wrappers).

At the Indian grocer, I made a beeline for the tea section. I held my green wrapper up to the mostly red and gold boxes. I found no matching packaging; the closest design was on an herbal cough remedy. But I did spy the words masala chai on two boxes. One box showed a beaming Indian woman against a garish yellow background. The slightly more expensive box showed an illustration of tea and spices against a garish yellow background. I chose the latter.

We dodged the cute children running around and begging their parents for sweets (Indian cuisine does sweets really well) to approach the register. I held up the tea box and the green wrapper and asked the store proprietor if they were the same thing, explaining the backstory. He grinned and consulted with his wife. They concluded that it was same thing, different brand.

They appeared highly amused.

PS. I'd been trying to find a perfect make-your-own recipe for chai for years, until God revealed through the hand of Arun that there existed teabags where this is already done for you--perfectly.

Spring Cleaning Update

Casualty: Pyrex mixing bowl. RIP.

Kitchen--spices arranged, stove and tiles scrubbed, sliding class door washed, things thrown out from cabinets and/or consolidated. Crap thrown out includes (but is not limited to): year-old jar of maraschino cherries, caramel coffee sauce I could not stop eating, "pancake syrup".

Living room--books vetted, placed in stacks: donate to library, return to owner, keep. Slipcovers washed. Surfaces dusted. Carpet vaccuumed.

Storage closet (aka "Wampus Room")--Recycling taken to center.

I think a stanza from Frost best expresses how I'm feeling about the daunting amount of cleaning left to do:
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Spring Cleaning

It's amazing how much messier everything gets in the process of spring cleaning. Now, the cookbook shelf is clean and organized, loose printouts of recipes tucked into binders or thrown away, vitamins vetted, microwave wiped down. But the rest of the kitchen is scarier than when I started.

G. is tackling the living room.

Cats are distressed.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


I've decided I can't stand the Dem wars anymore. Clinton, Obama: grow up. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'll be voting for McCain in the general.

Heck, he looks like a Dem if you squint.