Jul 11

Tiger ladies

So Amy Chua is a tiger mother, and Wendi Deng is a tiger wife. These might seem like new sayings, or descriptions that have to do with being born in the year of the tiger, or even racist monikers, but actually in Chinese, ferocious women have long been known as lao hu, or old tigers.

Westerners might call a fierce older Chinese woman a dragon lady, but in Chinese it’s lao hu.  To me dragon lady conjures up a stereotypically slant-eyed, slinky-chipao-dressed “Oriental” woman with long talon-like fingernails, a cigarette, peering through plumes of opium smoke.  Lao hu isn’t much better, but at least it’s by Chinese people, for Chinese people.  When I think lao hu, I don’t think sexy at all.  I think older, ferocious and loud, a woman who pushes her husband and kids around, who snaps at the least provocation and has absolutely no sense of humor.

Certain family members definitely qualify.

There’s also another Chinese word, xiong, which means  bear or ferocious.  In my experience, I’ve heard it used mainly to describe young women and children, not men or older women.  I like how those Chinese words for meanness are related to animals.  The origins for fierce also have some animal-like qualities.  It comes from the Latin ferus, “wild, untamed,” which comes from the base ghwer-, “wild, wild animal.”

I’m sure there are more animal descriptors in Chinese that I’m not familiar with.  There certainly are in English. Cougars are older women who go after younger men; cubs are those younger men.  A fox describes someone hot of either sex; a silver fox is a gray-haired hottie, generally male (I’m looking at you, Anderson Cooper).  A dog is someone who is “morally reprehensible,” usually male, and we all know what a bitch is.  A bear is a big hairy gay dude, a stallion is a man that is, um, well-endowed, while a shrew is yet another term for a fierce lady who needs taming (although at first it referred to any evil or malignant person).  There are lots more, I can’t even name them all.

What are some of your favorites?

Jun 11

Abandoned amusement

I just saw these pictures of an abandoned Gullivers’ Travels theme park in Japan.

What is it about abandoned amusement parks that is so fucking creepy and depressing?  Is it the juxtaposition of happiness and despair?  Of smiling mannequins and brightly painted animals, and their chipped and rotting facades?

I’ve been to one abandoned amusement park.  I was about nine and my brother six, and we were dragged along on a day trip with my parents, their friends, and their friends’ kids.  Our parents’ friends’ kids fell into two buckets – those we liked (like the mah-jongg gang, you know who you are!) and those we didn’t.  That day we were with the latter.

I don’t know whose bright idea it was to spend a Saturday driving out to a fairy tale themed park. It took forever to get there, and when we finally did, we found that not only was it closed, it was CLOSED DOWN FOREVER. Even at nine, I thought, Okay, this is pointless, let’s go home.  But someone, probably the same someone whose idea the whole trip was in the first place, thought it’d be great if we jumped the chain and took pictures in the broken-down displays.  Unfortunately I don’t remember anything except the giant shoe from the rhyme the old lady and the shoe (had so many kids, she didn’t know what to do), mostly because we have a picture of it.

Back then, I found the abandoned park depressing, and even more so now.

It also reminds me of one of the times my friend YP and I went out to Coney Island.  It had just opened for the season, it was fairly early in the morning, and it was freezing.  Hence, almost no one was there and some attractions, like Shoot the Freak, hadn’t been set up yet.

broke down carnival

Aside from Coney Island, I haven’t been to a theme park in ages. I wonder if now I’d find a lively one just as depressing as an abandoned one, like Vegas or a cruise ship. Artificial happiness.

May 11

Catching up

This weekend MB is away on another business trip so I am pseudo-single once again.  And how did I spend my pseudo-single Friday night?  Watching My Dog, a documentary about dogs and the celebrities who love them.  It was pretty adorable but totally manipulative, in a way that only a lefty-celebrity-laden project can be.

I also watched a rerun of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, the one in Paris, which of course made me want to a) go there, and b) buy a long baguette.

Work is good.  An idea I had seems to be popular (so far).  I love writing something that lots of people are reading, whether for myself or a job.  (Interoffice memos do not count.)  I’m a total attention whore.

The book selling business is coming along slowly but surely.  MB reminds me it’s like a garden: I need to tend it to it a little every day, and gradually it will grow.

And thanks to those of you who have already bought copies!  I really appreciate it.  And to remind folks, I make the same amount whether you buy a PDF or a paperback, so no guilt about buying the e-book.

And those of you to whom I owe free copies, I ordered them last week, and should be receiving them in another week (Lulu can be somewhat slow).  I was going to send each book directly, but then Lulu asked for a phone number.  Sending the books myself seemed easier, plus I got a discount for ordering a whole bunch.

Finally, in case you were wondering, I’ve fully recovered from my terrible bout of food poisoning last weekend.  The short version: MB and I had bad imperial rolls and spent part of Friday night and all of Saturday puking, shitting (well, just him), and feeling overall just terrible. By Saturday night we were able to eat some chicken soup.

But we didn’t gain our full appetites back till late last week, and I was slower than MB.  For days I haven’t felt too hungry – though I’ve definitely been eating – and have had constant indigestion.  Finally, on Thursday I did some yoga, and surprisingly felt better.  Yesterday at lunch I only picked at my chicken burrito, but by the time I got home, I was pretty famished and had some vegetarian chili over rice and stir-fried broccoli.

Today I feel normal so far.

On the docket for today: work on my latest essay, and work out.

Apr 11

Goodbye to the jacket

About eight years ago, I bought an awesome jacket.

Before then, my jackets and coats were always shapeless and plain.  As long as they kept me warm, what did I care?  But that year I was skinny and started paying more attention to the way I dressed.  Low-waisted pants looked better on me, as did fitted shirts.  I started to eschew larger sizes for clothes that actually fit.

I found the jacket randomly while shopping with my mom.  It was an Extra Small and the very last one in that style, but I tried it on anyway.

“It’s so cute!” I immediately proclaimed to my reflection.  It emphasized my small waist and flared out subtly to my knees.  Plus it was on sale.  The clerk didn’t even know how much on sale, but because there was a small rip in the lining, she gave it to me for $20.  Twenty bucks for a $100 jacket.

Over the years, I’ve gotten lots of compliments for it.  The first time my friend YP saw it, he proclaimed, “You gave yourself a What Not to Wear!”  A random woman on a train to Boston asked me, “Where did you get that jacket?” and I had to tell her it was probably the last one ever made.  Once a random hobo yelled out, “Nice jacket!” as I walked by.  And I swear the time I saw Clinton Kelly on East 42nd Street (speaking of WNTW), he gave the jacket an approving nod.

This is gross, but in all those eight years, I never got my jacket cleaned.  It’s black so no dirt showed up, and I only wore it when the weather was cool so it didn’t smell.  In all those eight years, it looked brand spanking new.

Till last year when I finally brought it to the cleaners.  When I got it back, it didn’t look like the same jacket.  The material is this strange “micro-fiber” (whatever that means) and I think the cleaners didn’t know what to do with it.  As a result, it came back wrinkled, bubbled, and discolored in some places.  There was already that rip in the lining, but after the cleaning, the lining seemed even more delicate.  After all those years of no additional tears, in the last year, I suddenly obtained several more, as well as a hole in my pocket.  Whenever I put my hand in my pocket, the hole tore like paper.

I felt like the whole thing was disintegrating, as though those eight years of NYC dirt and grime were holding it together.  In reality, probably the harsh cleaning chemicals (although the tag said clearly, Dry Clean Only) removed the protective waterproof layer.

Then the last straw: I lost a button.  Sure, I could get another button, or I could get another jacket.

Which I finally did.

After a few weeks of freezing in a hoodie or roasting in my winter coat, yesterday I finally bought a new jacket – two, in fact.  A sort-of fall jacket and a light raincoat, on sale.

Neither are as styling as my old jacket, but at least they’re not falling apart.

Jan 11

More crazy search terms

In addition to seeing how many (possible) visitors come to my blog, I like seeing the search terms that bring people here.

Some of them aren’t surprising, like my name, and books and movies, but some are really interesting while other have me wondering what people are thinking.

  • asian groupie
  • skinny asian sluts
  • “the social network” groupie

These bring folks to my posts about being a groupie and The Social Network.  Guess I’m not the only one who finds this topic fascinating (though not so much “skinny asian sluts”).

  • mary karr david foster wallace

I Googled this myself when I first read Mary Karr’s Lit.  Yes, they dated, back in the day.

  • ss officer
  • ss girl

These bring up my Tokyo pictures of a Harajuku girl dressed up in Nazi regalia.  I don’t want to know why people are looking for this.

  • kiss shoes
  • tokyo clothes
  • harajuku boys

More Tokyo references.

  • crazy chinese mom

Presumably refers to all the hubbub over Amy Chua’s parenting methods.

  • im not your typical asian american female

Me either!  Hence, this poem.

  • essay about a girl who was so upset decided enough is enough

That sounds like an interesting essay!

  • worrying is like a rocking chair

Yes it is.

  • donna sadowsky
  • wo ai ni mommy

People who search these terms will find my review of the documentary, and Donna Sadowsky herself chewing me out.

  • 100 awesome things

I’m guessing people mean “1000 Awesome Things” and type 100 by mistake, and get my rip-off list instead.

  • girl dies hair caught in treadmill

Scarily quite common.

  • angela alien vs predator

I have no idea what this can be referring to.

  • why are women so secretive about their periods

I think the real question is why would any man want to know all about women’s periods?  I figured they’d just want to know, “I have my period,” “I’m about to have my period,” or “My period is late.” By the way, this search term also brings up: Asian Women- Every Caucasian’s Secret Desire.

I don’t want to know.

Dec 10

Quick and random update

I know I’ve been pretty lax lately with the updates.  I could say it’s because I’ve been focusing all my energy on my memoir, but really I’m just lazy.

Life has been peaceful since my grandmother’s funeral.  Besides working and writing, I’ve been (as usual) trying to exercise more consistently and regularly.  For the past couple of weeks I’ve been very good, though of course today I’m tempted not to go.

Last Tuesday I was a ball of firy productivity.  I got up early and went to the gym.  Then I went right back out and headed to Union Square for my mother’s Christmas present: a gift card from a department store.  But first a delicious ham and gruyere baguette and coffee from my new favorite place, Crepe O Chocolat.

Going to the store early was a good idea.  There were hardly any people, nor at another store where I got some new pajama bottoms.  I’ve had the same ones for YEARS, and MB is constantly making fun of how thin they are in the seats.

Then I was back home before noon. Spent the afternoon working and writing.  By 3 I could have really used a nap, but I pushed through it.

On Thursday I was out and about early again.  Sent my parents’ package (btw, I love the automated postal machines but hate the people who feel they have to read every entire screen for each and every package; here are two pieces of advice: THEY’RE ALL THE SAME and JUST SAY NO), hit the gym, had yummy spicy seafood Vietnamese pho, did a bit more shopping, hung out at the New People cafe in Japantown to work.

But I was feeling very blah for some reason.  Just physically tired.  And piggish too!  MB had a dinner meeting so I just ate the leftover pizza in our fridge and then a bunch of Doritoes.  So much for my low-fat diet.  Then I had pizza again the next day at work!  Need to lay off the cheese for a while.

My latest obsession is The Hunger Games.  The books are SO GOOD.  YP turned me onto them, though I’ve been hearing about them for ages.  Gripping and surprisingly brutal.  No mushy love stories or sparkly vampires.  (There is some sparkling but only because the progtagonist is tripping from some deadly wasps.)  I’m on the second book now.

This rainy weather just makes me want to curl up and read The Hunger Games all day.

Oh, and write too, I suppose.  My memoir is taking way longer than expected, but I’m wrapping up the last chapter.  Now it’s quite a bit longer.  At start it was around 50,000 words, but now I’m close to 90,000.  I expanded quite a bit, especially in the beginning.

Back to work!

Jul 10

Random catching up

Mission: Lower Cholesterol

I’ve finished up week two of Mission: Lower Cholesterol, aka Fuck My Doctor and His Threats of Lipitor.  This week was both a bit easier and a bit harder.  Healthy choices have already become a habit, but I’m still tempted by bad snacks and desserts.  Well of course: I always will be.  For instance, yesterday at work, I saw an empty Frito bag in my garbage can, and thought, Fuck, I could really go for some Fritos.

I was sort of lax about my green tea habit, opting instead for another cup of coffee one day and just skipping a second round of caffeine altogether another day.  I’m also getting sick of almonds as a snack.  Need to get some mixed nuts.

I’m one day short of hitting my workout goal, unless I go to the gym later today.  This morning I opted for an at-home workout of weight training and Pilates.  My post-yoga recovery this week was much quicker.  I wasn’t nearly as sore the next day, and by the following day was all better.

I also finally brought my yoga mat instead of just using the mats the gym provides.  While the yoga mat is definitely better in that it’s not slippery and much longer, it doesn’t provide as much cushion and so the base of my hands started to get sore.  However, they didn’t hurt afterward so maybe it’s just a matter of getting used to it.

Writing News

I had another piece published in The Frisky last week, I’m Sick of Hearing About Motherhood. I felt like I had written several “nice” pieces and wanted to write something more controversial. The comments range from, “Amen, sister!” to “Oh my God, how can you say such things? We mothers have to put up with SOOO much, and now we have to put up with bitchy attitudes like yours, Miss Angela Tung! We’re MOTHERS! Cut us a break!!!”

I rest my case.

Funny too are comments that say, “Wait till she has a kid!” while in the piece I basically say who knows, I may act the same way when I have kids. Shows that people didn’t take the time to read to the very end.

On the Nervous Breakdown last week, I published I Hate Reading About Music, which has been my most popular piece so far. There has been a lot of music posts lately so I think the subject is on people’s minds. I don’t know if those who don’t read the TNB regularly would be as into it.

This morning I had fun giving a video interview to one of my Nervous Breakdown friends.  I’m always self-conscious about how I look on Skype.  My hair was all wet so I kind of look like a seal in a pink shirt. Oh well.

At work I’ve been given a big month-long project.  It will involve lots of writing, including on days that I’m not in the office.  Yay!  Getting paid to write!

What I’m Reading Now

I just finished The Book of Lost Things by John Connelly.  It was a very interesting book, an interesting style.  On the surface it seems to be a book for children or Young Adults because of the fairy tale aspect, but it’s quite gruesome at times and very sad overall.  Now I’ve started Corelli’s Mandolin.

I wanted to pick up a copy of Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi, which I’ve never read before, but it was checked out at the library.  I’ve always wanted to read it but just never got around to it.  Then I started watching a documentary on Mark Twain last week and became interested again.

I didn’t realize Mark Twain could be kind of a jerk to his family, and had a lot of darkness about him, blaming himself for his brother’s and son’s deaths.  I think a lot of “comedians” are like that, not a laugh a minute but actually quite depressed.

I also didn’t know that his first lecture was given here in San Francisco at the Maguire’s Academy of Music.  I wonder if that theater is still around.  I’m curious to go see.

Dec 09

Literary blogging + random update

I’ve written before about The Nervous Breakdown, a great literary blog which I first heard about from one of my former writing teachers. Well, now I’m one of their authors! Read my first post, in honor of my grandmother.

In other news, I’ve had two lazy and two productive days this week.  Monday wasn’t too bad.  I finished NaNoWriMo, did some laundry, and started the “Puo-puo” essay.  Tuesday I didn’t get out of my pajamas till three in the afternoon.  Before that I did do another load of laundry and more writing, but I still felt amazingly lazy.  I only left to go to the gym.  Then I watched too much TV.

I have to remember that television is the bane of my existence.  I should only watch worthwhile things, and if nothing worthwhile is on, read if I’m too tired to write.

Wednesday I wrote in the morning, then left at noon to eat lunch at Honey Honey and do a couple of hours of work there.  Afterwards I did some “research” at Sephora for my next mini-article, which is on cleansing milks.  Lemme tell ya: $30 wasted.  Cleansing milks are only good if you have dry skin, not combination skin like me.  I tried it this morning, and by the afternoon, my face felt like an oil slick.

After my research, I hit the gym.  Trying to go more regularly now to jian fei, as the Chinese say, literally “cut the fat.”

Today I was awake at 7:30.  For some reason, MB was up at 7.  It was good: got some writing done, then hit the gym at 10.  I was meeting my SF pal at two at Bittersweet (on Fillmore Street) so I knew I needed to get a workout in early.  Hanging out was fun as usual.  I didn’t spill a cup of water on my computer this time, if only because I didn’t bring my computer.

Tonight, aside from rerun of The Office, I haven’t watched much TV, though now I’m tempted.

Nov 09

10 Random Things

I have this inexplicable sharp pain in my ankle. It’s not like I twisted it. It’s like I’m being stabbed with a needle, but there’s no mark. It comes and goes, and seems worse after I run. Weird.

I’m at 3,869 words for NaNoWriMo, which means I’m slightly ahead. I signed up for a writers’ meet up (yay for being social!) this Sunday. It’s a marathon session of writing at a cafe, from 10 AM to 4 PM, with snack and lunch breaks.

I was planning on growing my hair out into a bob, but I don’t know if I can stand it. I may end up chopping it all off again.

I dreamed the other night that I was at a show with my family. We were two hours early, and we all dispersed and agreed to meet up later. Then I found out they had all had dinner together and didn’t tell me. I kept yelling at them but found I had no voice. My aunt shrugged like, “Oh well.”

I started reading Lord of the Rings, Fellowship of the Rings, book number one on the BBC top 100. I like it so far, but I’m glad I saw the movies a billion times so I know what’s going on.

The crying I kept thinking was a newborn baby is actually a cat. I realized this last night when the cat seemed out of control.

The people in my building are drunk with power. 1) The cleaning girl – the same one who gave me a hard time a few weeks ago – grilled MB the other night about whether or not he actually lived here, despite the fact that he had keys. You really think you’re going to remember all seventy odd people who live here? Unless you’re the doorman who sees people come and go all day, you just won’t.

2) Some dude informed me the other day that the exterminator had to come up to *my* apartment that exact moment even though a) there are more than sixty other units in the building, b) I was in my robe, and c) MB was in the shower. He generously gave me half an hour, and we rushed out of there. Then it turned out the exterminator was only doing the first two floors.

The Whole Foods near us is old school. The check out lines are set up traditionally – you unload your groceries on the moving belt while the anxious person behind you climbs up your ass to unload their stuff. The newer set ups are way better: you wait till your number flashes and then it’s just you and the cash register person.

Today is Free First Tuesday. In other words, the first Tuesday of the month all museums are free. This afternoon I’ll probably check out SF MoMA.

Just three weeks till Thanksgiving! MB and I will be flying to LA, where we’ll stay with my brother. My parents and aunt will be staying with with my grandmother nearby, and my cousin and her husband (the famous Huang Lei and Shane) and their daughter will be joining us on Turkey Day. It’ll be the first big family Thanksgiving I’ve ever had (in-laws don’t count). Usually it’s just me and my parents since my bro’s out here. Should be fun.

Apr 08

Tuesday randomness

It’s only Tuesday and I’m already ready to get random.

I finally got my watch fixed. After several years of not wearing a watch, I’ve recently started wearing my again. Only I either a) can’t stop looking at it, especially in long boring meetings, or 2) forget that I have it on so that I’m wandering around, wondering what time it is. Today I forgot to wear it.

Firefly was a good show. MB downloaded a bunch of episodes and we’ve been watching them for the past few days. What a good show. It’s neat that Chinese is thrown in here and there (the Alliance is a U.S.-Sino Alliance, since in the future America and China will be the only true super powers left), but sometimes the actors’ accents are so bad, I can’t tell what they’re saying. Too bad the show was canceled.

My mother can be so annoying. I called her late last week to tell her about the jobs I’ve been interviewing for, and how I actually feel hopeful. She said, “That nice. But it’s not like your job is so bad now.” Um, have you not been listening to me complain for the past year?

But that’s not all: “Sure, getting a new job is nice, but what’s more important is that you’re with someone now.”

Wha? Hunh?

One doesn’t preclude the other – career and relationship are in two different realms for me. I was perfectly fine boyfriend-less, but in a crappy job with a shitty boss, I’m still unhappy. No boyfriend = happy. With boyfriend = happier. Crappy job = UNHAPPY. Uncrappy job = happy.

My mother didn’t really see my point.

And the rest. Reposted my furniture ad and have gotten more responders. Hopefully tonight “Jenny” will buy my tea tables. Another woman is supposedly interested in the dressers and couch. Don’t tease me!

Had another digital marketing interview bright and early this morning. I think it went well, but who knows. Have my last one for communication manager in a little bit.