Tuesday, April 07, 2009


A friend recently told me that when you make your humiliation part of your creative process, you liberate yourself to, well, create. Hence, here goes my second blog post in all of 2009! Go me.

I've always had a difficult time with "putting myself out there." My wise teeny son likes to accuse me of perfectionism, but that's too simplistic. For decades I felt like I couldn't do anything artistically because (1) I was always surrounded by artistic people, (2) I felt the need to be completely original, and (3) I didn't want judgment, mostly from my own self. All this despite feeling like I was a creative type innately and that when I choose to lose myself in a project, be it drawing or writing, I was pretty damn good, at times even great.

Anyway, I'm now building myself a tenuous bridge and gingerly getting over it. Because you know what, being afraid of not being great is just no fucking way to live. I am simply too tired of it. I am simply too old for it. I don't have the same energy I once had to stifle whatever it is that bubbles out.

So from this point forward, I will use this blog to write and write and write. Most of it will be dribbly shitstain (like that's any different from what's come before), but I will do my damnest to resist the Delete button. And allow maybe only a handful of Edit. The self-censor mode is a bitter pill. It's a cliche to say that you're your worst enemy, but that doesn't make it any less true. The thing is, when you're pretty good at a lot of different things, finding the one true outlet to focus on can be a bit like [insert metaphor].

So there you have it. I've given myself permission to suck so that I can begin the process of sucking less.

I am now hitting the Publish Post button.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

And the Winner Is...Me?

Forgive me my long hiatus, dear readers, and for hosting my own writer's strike (though I am from LA, after all). Life has a habit of sneaking up on me, those to-do lists color-bleeding into one another springing me into inaction--until that damning moment when I'm snapped wide awake wearing nothing but runny pinks. It's not a pretty sight.

Laundry metaphor aside (can you tell literal laundry is also on my list?), I feel the need to document the big upcoming change for the one loyal reader that's left. So, lonely reader, come August, I'll be moving to China, Mainland China--Beijing, to be exact. I feel overwhelmed, mixed, mixed up, a whir of hazy emotions set in spin cycle (damn, here I go again).

On the one hand, I'm thrilled I landed a respected, sought-after school considering the (by all accounts) shit-awful recruitment season and global crisis. And the package is killer compared to South America.

On the other hand, what the fuck--China? Really, self? I am, after all, so classically lazy that I dropped my Spanish lessons here once I figured out how to order a cup of coffee. China--with its gobbledygook alphabet and tonal everything will be devastating in its shock of culture (although to be fair, while I am challenged in the pretty-voice department, I am thankfully not tone-deaf, at least according to my karaoke scores). China--where my allergies-prone self is gonna have to break up in a huge way with Mr. Contact Lenses, my eyes already itchy and wet at the thought of the smog and the rebound affair with Mr. Eyeglasses. [I know that was cheesy, but they can't all be winners. -ed.] China--where the arms of the Benevolent Dictator will have long-reaching effects (YouTube was banned out of the blue for a few days last week, fer christ's sake). China--where, dear God, my physiological need for personal space will be utterly, terrifyingly eviscerated. And did I mention the smog?

But, on the other hand (careful readers will now note my deformed anatomy), China--where spawn will learn Mandarin, and take more theatre courses, and camp at the Great Wall, and be intimate with 5,000 years of culture. China--where I'll finally get my fill of Asia travel (one weekend to Angkor Wat to rekindle some childhood memories, another to Bangkok simply for the food-court curries). China--where my swanky expat compound will have a caf
e that delivers, and a free gym clubhouse, and tennis courts (because you know how much I rock the tennis skort), and, and...

It's never easy, or more accurately, I seem to have a penchant for choosing the difficult over the easy. And as if I'm not free falling enough these days, last week an Argentine coworker stopped by my classroom to pronounce in her typical charming way:
I would hate to be you. I don't know how you to it. Your life is so hectic. Do you even know any Mandarin? Heckling aside, she had a point or two. What *am* I doing starting over? Wasn't it enough to move from the northern hemisphere to the southern, without having to cross into the eastern? Didn't I bust my (professional) balls black & blue trying to prove myself here, and now would have to start all over? Haven't I wept enough tears bidding adieu to family in the States, without having to endure (at least) two more years of this melodrama? Do I ever learn?

And then, fortuitously, I ran into this feel-good quote by Mark Twain:

Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

And soon after, I got no less than 21 photos of my new home in Beijing--3 floors of personal space, with windows wide flung to beckon potential clear skies and an outside world of possibilities.

I guess the jury's still out.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Earth Trek: The Next Episode

So lately I've been preoccupied (a kinder word than obsessed, although that's more precise) with my job search for the next school year and beyond. In the international school circuit, this process includes not only a search of school but of country and city as well, so you can just imagine the excitement- and stress-induced headaches I've had to endure. And, just because a city sounds fabu (Barcelona! Paris!) =! the school is great. In fact, many of the international schools in capital cities in Europe are second-rate compared to those in Asia.

What complicates it even further is this new school has to make the cut for being a decent workplace for me (there are quite a few draconian administrators out there) while being a top-notch academic institution with a strong performing arts for spawn (who'll be entering the 9th grade), and those two criteria don't necessarily marry well. There's a very unscientific formula to it all, weighted with a hefty dose of personal preferences. So after copious hours/weeks/ulcers of meticulous research, I've got it down to a list. My search centers around Asia because I decided that making 30-70% more than I do currently in Latin America (and Europe, where you often have to pay country taxes) is a good thing.

So here's my list, in no particular order. If you could live anywhere in Asia, where would you go?

I'm not posting the school names, just because. Of course, city grades are based on my own personal interests in the location, which can range from OMG, they have a Sephora there! to it's a foodie's paradise! to Holy Crap, there's a Hello Kitty-themed cafe! Package = tax-free salary, bennies, housing allowance, home flights, perks, etc.

School #1: Bangkok, Thailand: A school, A+ package, A- city (demerits for pollution, political instability, and being 20 minutes from downtown)

School #2: Shanghai, China: A- school, A- package, B+ city (demerit for pollution) [values added: spawn already has family/connections on his stepmom's side there. spawn really likes the city.]

School #3: Beijing, China: A+ school, B+ package, B+ city (demerit for pollution)

School #4: Beijing, China: B+ school, A package, B+ city (demerit for pollution)

School #5: New Delhi, India: A school, A+ package, C+ city (demerits for terrorist threat and too much stark poverty). [value added: a good friend already teaches there.]

School #6: Singapore: A- school [demerit for the supposedly insane workload], A package, A+ city

School #7: Cairo, Egypt: B+ school, B package, B city (demerit for my not owning conservative clothes and inevitably having to update entire wardrobe)

School #8: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: B+ school, A- package, A city

School #9: Tokyo, Japan: B+ school, A package, A city [value added: spawn really wants to go there.]

School #10: Taipei, Taiwan: A- school (demerit for quintessential type-A workload), A- package, A- city

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Omnivore's Hundred

Found this fun challenge from Miss Tango. And you know me, can't resist lists or food so a list on food is bliss, almost as blissful as a bowl of durian. I scored only a 77/100, though I think a little grade inflation is needed for how mainstay many of those items are on my diet.

And why isn't Japanese natto on the list?


The Omnivore's Hundred

Here’s a chance for a little interactivity for all the bloggers out there. Below is a list of 100 things that I think every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life. The list includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food - but a good omnivore should really try it all. Don’t worry if you haven’t, mind you; neither have I, though I’ll be sure to work on it. Don’t worry if you don’t recognise everything in the hundred, either; Wikipedia has the answers.

Here’s what I want you to do:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten. (I've added a * as well.)
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at http://www.verygoodtaste.co.uk/ linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
*2. Nettle tea
*3. Huevos rancheros
*4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
*6. Black pudding
*7. Cheese fondue
*8. Carp
*9. Borscht
*10. Baba ghanoush
*11. Calamari
*12. Pho
*13. PB&J sandwich
*14. Aloo gobi
*15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
*17. Black truffle
*18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
*19. Steamed pork buns
*20. Pistachio ice cream
*21. Heirloom tomatoes
*22. Fresh wild berries
*23. Foie gras
*24. Rice and beans
*25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
*27. Dulce de leche
*28. Oysters
*29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
*31. Wasabi peas
*32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
*33. Salted lassi
*34. Sauerkraut
*35. Root beer float
*36. Cognac with a fat cigar
*37. Clotted cream tea
*38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
*39. Gumbo
*40. Oxtail
*41. Curried goat
*42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
*44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
*47. Chicken tikka masala
*48. Eel
*49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
*50. Sea urchin
*51. Prickly pear
*52. Umeboshi
*53. Abalone
*54. Paneer
*55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
*56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
*60. Carob chips
*61. S’mores
*62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
*64. Currywurst
*65. Durian
*66. Frogs’ legs
*67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
*69. Fried plantain
*70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
*71. Gazpacho
*72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
*77. Hostess Fruit Pie
*78. Snail
*79. Lapsang souchong
*80. Bellini
*81. Tom yum
*82. Eggs Benedict
*83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
*85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
*87. Goulash
*88. Flowers
89. Horse
*90. Criollo chocolate
*91. Spam
Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
*94. Catfish
*95. Mole poblano
*96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
*98. Polenta
*99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
*100. Snake

Friday, October 24, 2008

Bible 2.0

I had no idea the bible was this, um, cool! According to the Telegraph UK, the Evangelical Alliance has come up with 10 Commandments for Christian bloggers. Dude, why the non-mention of porn? My personal 10 would be all about porn (thou shall not blog about donkey sex, for example).

Here are the official ten commandments for bloggers, as handed down by religious geeks [and let's see how our hero does]:

1. You shall not put your blog before your integrity. [Strike 1. Damn.]
2. You shall not make an idol of your blog. [Come again?]
3. You shall not misuse your screen name by using your anonymity to sin. [Is having a short--nay, shortest--fuse sinful? Strike. Good thing I only have to count up to ten.]
4. Remember the Sabbath day by taking one day off a week from your blog. [Cool, since I'm usually too tired from Friday night's debauchery to lift a posting finger the next.]
5. Honour your fellow bloggers above yourselves and do not give undue significance to their mistakes. [Damn, no more bitching out other blogger's' love of stray apostrophe's? Harsh.]
6. You shall not murder someone else's honour, reputation or feelings. [Whoa, way to take the fun out of snarking!]
7. You shall not use the web to commit or permit adultery in your mind. [I guess this is as close to porn as I'll get. But wait--let's parse words. Is it a sin only in mind, but OK in body? Curiouser and curiouser...]
8. You shall not steal another person's content. [So much moral guidance, so little time...]
9. You shall not give false testimony against your fellow blogger. [Insert random comment.]
10. You shall not covet your neighbour's blog ranking. Be content with your own content. [bwah....OK, I'm gasping for air here. So The Onion....]

Monday, October 13, 2008


...without the divine intervention of TV, I'd have to hear my own thoughts.

Your Nine Months Are Up!

I can't think of a worse line to entice shopping mothers than "carrying you forever..." srly, wtf? It's a good thing the Prune line is so darn awesome.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

And Another Thing

I'm back, although I don't yet have the vocabulary to describe what I went through back in May of this year. Still, I'm back and that's worth something.