No one loves life here….

February 27, 2012

It’s a beautiful sunny day (yes, still cold, but there’s SUN!!) here in Michigan. And what should we do?! Well, of course, go get a window seat in one of the many riverside restaurants as we watch the sun-glistening waters of the rivers, the few ships and tankers floating up along, and enjoy the sunset as we ENJOY HAPPY HOUR!!! :) woot! Leisurely enjoy a cocktail or two, and many delightful appetizers and small plates as we spend a weekday evening with friends at happy hour! I love life! I love life like that!

Except… no one around here seems remotely interested in going to happy hours. I’m not sure why it is around here in Michigan (or maybe the whole Midwest?) that they seem not as interested in happy hours as do our East and West Coast counterparts. Breathe the words Happy Hour Specials, and you get a whole lot of friends and immediate acquaintances exploring the juicy world of happy hour specials from 5pm – 7pm (or 4pm – 6pm, or 3pm – 7pm??).

I’ve noticed a few differences here:

1. The happy hours do have very good specials in Michigan. But the restaurants are surprisingly generous with their happy hour TIMES around here. Most of the places start happy hours around 3pm (or even 2pm at some!) and will go until 7pm (or even 9pm!). That is ridiculous! So with such a generous time frame for happy hours… why aren’t there more patrons?

This is insane! If places in Philadelphia ran happy hours they way they did here, either a) they would go out of business, or b) people would clamor endlessly to these places.

2. The general cost of living here is cheaper than the two coasts. Drinks don’t usually run at $14-$16 per cocktail, or $10 per beer. Thus, the idea of paying $5-$6 a cocktail and $4 a beer is very normal and is NOT a happy hour price. Unlike in Philadelphia or NYC, if we smell of a place with $5-$6 cocktails… we will break down that door and stand in line 30 minutes before the start of their happy hour, in fear that when the time comes, it will be standing room only. (which sucks, but we’ll still take it).

Maybe for people in Michigan, they see happy hour prices, and they shrug, and say, “So? Those are everyday prices, silly.” So the discounted and slashed prices are no discount, they are just normal for everyone in Michigan.

3. Maybe people have to drive more around here? I find dense cities with locals that utilize train and subway systems (or cabs and walking…) tend to be more flexible and interested in happy hours. Perhaps it’s because people usually have to drive to the happy hour location and then drive home, thus decreasing the incentive to drink for less (so drink more) mentality. Makes sense. We should all drive responsibly and 0%  BAL! (service announcement here…)

4. Rush hour around here seems to start around 3:30pm. While rush hour in the East Coast starts around 4:30pm, and gets bad at 6pm. Perhaps people here get off work earlier than when the happy hours start, thus when you’re faced with a) sit in the office for a few more hours and then hit up happy hour, or b) go home as soon as possible, but no happy hours. Perhaps people usually choose b.

Okay, I know by now, what you’re thinking. “Why don’t you just go to these happy hours by yourself then?” I used to, back in Philadelphia. But apparently, it is not  socially acceptable for a normal (not sleazy) girl to go to a happy hour or restaurant bar by herself.

I am texting S-O-S’s to my friends in Philadelphia about my mini-crisis here… “No one loves life here! No one is interested in going to happy hours today! Our first sunny day after a week of snow and grey!”.
Of which one texts back, “Go! Who cares what others think! You can’t wait around for people as life passes you by!”
While another says, “You’ll be back in March!”

Meanwhile… they are about to hit up a happy hour later, and it’s sunny and 55F in Philadelphia.

WHY?! :(

JK, it’s actually for free… not some Jenny Craig Program for the heart or something…

Last week, my women’s Bible study group was studying about brokenness. And as I was one of the youngest in the group, I didn’t feel like I had much life experience to share. People shared about broken relationships with spouses and family members and parents. People shared about death and mental disorders and other severe chronic ailments…

Mine? A breakup… sounds quite silly and young… actually. But I figured I’d still share. So I briefly, yes, very briefly, shared the break up that started this blog 3 years ago, and started me on my journey of healing and restoration. The women in my group were very gracious. Instead of blowing me off or saying, “Darling, no worries, there are much bigger obstacles down the road, wait till you have kids… ” or something like that, they listened and nodded and grieved with me, but also celebrated in my healing and restoration and recovery!

As I left the Bible study, I drove away in my car with the radio on, and one of my current favorite songs, Free by Dara Maclean, came on.

It starts out with this verse:

Hurting heart (hard) and broken wings
Cannot stop Your love from always finding me
No more days wasting away
I finally realize the gift inside of me

So initially, when I heard the song, I thought the first line said, “Hurting hard and broken wings”, but later when I looked up the lyrics, I realized she was singing hurting heart. But, for me, hurting hard seemed much more appropriate. Because at that time, I didn’t just feel like I had a hurting heart that was throbbing in pain… I felt like I was hurting (all over, not just my heart) HARD, like all of me was in severe pain, hurting really really hard.

I truly think that when I was so hurt, that God came and found me, instead of waiting for me to find God in my pain.  (thus the second line of the lyrics). And I remember my first 2 weeks after the break up, I felt like I was living, but not really… more well described as a walking corpse, doing all the routine things, but feeling like my soul and spirit had left me. I felt like my body was wasting away because of lack of sleep and lack of appetite. Then I lived my days not really remembering what was going on… like days wasted away in those first 2 weeks.

And then, slowly at first (even right after the first few weeks of break up), and then more powerfully later on, I start recognizing God’s gift in me, not just the peace and protection and rescue… but the changing and transformation. Of making my pain and hurt and seemingly a chip on the shoulder and a slash in my life become radiant and beautiful and a way to glorify God.

It’s been so long since the break up, and so many things have happened! I grew spiritually in new ways, I started dating again, I opened new ministries, I started dating a special guy, I got married, I moved to the Midwest, I’m about to graduate with my doctorate, I was offered my dream job, and I accepted it…. on and on and on. SO many blessings, so many changes.

In that study, it helped me revisit my once torn up soul and broken body and throbbing heart. It made me realize how far we’ve come (God and I), and how far He’s taken me.

The next two lines of that song:

My strength alone will never be enough
But Your arms keep lifting me up

I’m reminded how God has not only been faithful to me, but He’s lifted me up and helped me soar on wings like eagles! As you can see from all my recent posts, I’m more caught up in trying to settle into this Midwest life and find a new community and make new friends. I think the study was great in how it made me stop and think back, it made me look back to where I had come from. And how much God has FREED me!

You tell me I’ve been made free
You give me everything I need to walk in my dreams
You whisper words that free my soul
You’re the reason I have hope
You’re everything I need and more
You made me
You made me free

These lyrics from the chorus of the song really remind me how God has freed me, how He whispers words, constantly, that free my soul, free my heart, free myself from all the hurt and pain. God became the reason why I had hope in those dark times, even though my body and everything I saw were just sadness. And He did, He gave me everything I needed to walk in my dreams, including the strength, the faith, the friends and family, the support, the encouragement, the chance, the wisdom, the direction, EVERYTHING.

It made me once again, just so thankful. And I think part of sharing our brokenness during the study is to be transparent and grieve and support one another. But I also think, for me at least, a big part was realizing how far we’ve come, and how much God has provided and been faithful, and to count our numerous blessings and be completely thankful and joyful of how God is freeing us, has freed us, and will continue to free us from all things!!

So… Now I’m married, I’m wondering if I really have to celebrate this valentine’s day thing… since we married, doesn’t that show ultimately that we love one another? Enough to take the vow… “till DEATH do us part”?

Now I don’t mind if buying a Valentine’s Day gift for a guy means flowers and a teddy bear plus some chocolates… except not.

So, let’s check out google search “Valentine’s gifts for men/husbands”… Some say electronics, others say flying lessons, motorcycle classes (a Ducati, anyone?), work out equipment, fancy tool sets, etc etc. All those sound fine, unless your goal is trying to unclutter your house…. (btw, there’s only two of us… we don’t even have kids yet, and I’m trying to unclutter our place almost every other day! and believe me, I’m not the only one generating the clutter…)

Cook a nice meal? Fine, I can understand that. Flowers and fruit baskets and chocolates? Fine, perishables, I can understand that, too.  But more apparatus and equipment and “stuff” … I’m not sure… sigh, I feel like I still have tons of gifts that are in their boxes from Christmas and… gasp… our wedding…

You know, I think some of my favorite Valentine’s Day were when I was SINGLE! :) I kid you not.

Now that I’m married, I’m not sure if my club of girlfriends will still accept me if I wanna join in on one of these Valentine’s Day girls’ nights. But they were wonderful. They weren’t extravagant or expensive. But they were real, and they were loving and they were true. True friendship. “True LOVE!”  In the sense that we loved hanging out with one another, we cared for each other, we enjoyed and appreciated the time that we had with one another.

I remember we would do fondue maybe a movie, maybe a board game, or just chat (while the movie we were “supposed” watch was on pause). Sometimes we would cheer one another up (if some were going through difficult breakups). Other times, we’d make hot chocolate and dumplings and use Valentine’s Day as a reason to reach out to the homeless and roam the streets and shelters of Philadelphia to care for the poor and hungry on a day of “LOVE”.

On the other hand, I can understand how when we are single, we feel sad and lonely on valentine’s day, and a gathering with the girls just seem like a pity party or a consolation prize. But I think the years that we have to be able to spend with our close girl friends are really few! Once we are married, then for the rest of the time, we’ll be doing valentine’s with one other person (which is AWESOME. but no more girls’ nights with PJs and chocolate fondue). Once we have kids, we’ll probably be helping them get with their little valentine boxes and valentine cards (remember those?). I just heard a mom of 4 tell us about getting ready for Valentine’s Day at school for FOUR kids! Wow!

So there will be many years, wonderful years, to spend Valentine’s with your hubby and your children. But the few years of being single and able to spend it with a bunch of giggly silly crazy girlfriends are few, and so precious.

So if you’re out there, and you’re worried, don’t be, “that” guy or girl will come soon. And if you have some friends getting together and you think it’s just a consolation prize, it’s not!

That type of friendship, that scene of us girls huddled in someone’s living room giggling, or the scene of us girls bunched up at bars and restaurants and watching other people’s dates and toppling over in fits of laughter …is just… wonderously precious, inexchangeable. Those are some of my most precious and prized memories. :)

Back In Philadelphia!

February 14, 2012

So I went back to Philadelphia for 9 days! I was so happy!

I got off the plane in Philadelphia, and suddenly realized that I started to smile at people!!!! Oh my goodness. Me?! I started being unable to control myself and would automatically look people in the eye and smile at them. People in the airport (I had just gotten off my plane from Michigan to Philadelphia) were NOT smiling back at me, but in fact giving me strange looks.

I had to slap myself (mentally) a few times, “What’s wrong with you? Get out of it! Get yourself together! You’re back! You’re in Philly now! Wipe that smile off that face! C’mon now! People will think you’re high or just crazy… or creepy!”

I also noticed that I was walking slower than the flow of human traffic going from the terminal gates to the platform to get onto the regional trains to get into the city. (I do miss mass transit!!!) I pumped up my walking speed. “What is wrong with me?!” I thought to myself, “I used to be queen of human traffic weaving! I would be doing the left lane on the sidewalk if it had one!”

How is it possible that just by being in the Midwest for 2 short (long?) months, it has made me… nicer? More pleasant?

Sheesh! That’s great! I’m glad I’m becoming nicer and more pleasant and peaceful, etc etc… But I’m going to have to survive Philadelphia for 9 days, so I better get my sass back or get eaten up alive here!

Hello, my beautiful restaurants!! Lacroix, Oyster House, Alma de Cuba, Dandelion, Tria, El Rey, Franklin Mortgage, Rouge, Ransted Room (my new fave), ALFA, Farmer’s Cabinet, City Tap House, and so many more!! Oh how I’ve missed you!!!!! :-D And Chinatown!! Real Chinese Food again! And Vic’s Sushi!! the sweet soft taste of sashimi… oh how I’ve missed it all!!!!!!

I walked into a major grocery store chain, biggest in the country, actually. Ok, fine, I say it… it’s Kroger. Anyway, one day I was picking up some items. After having just getting out of my car, I was still humming to the last tune in the car while listening to the Sirius XM Satellite Radio Station: The Message (a Christian radio station).

I walk int Kroger, pick up the weekly circular and start pushing my shopping cart and as I was desperately looking for White Pepper (not the millions of black pepper…), I suddenly realized that the store ambient music was the same song I was humming…. Wait, what?

Guys, I am not kidding. They were playing straight up Christian music. Not country music that would kinda mention the word “God” or rap songs that were in forms of prayer and said God. And I don’t mean the made-popular Christian bands like Switchfoot (which I love) and Creed and Reliant K or POD, who would sing about God, but not always in a direct or in-your-face super obvious way. But straight up Chris Tomlin and Desperation Band style Christian worship music, like CCM style. Whoa!
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Chronicles of a New Wife

January 19, 2012

I should think to re-name my blog. Just kidding. Hopefully, in a few years… I’ll be not so “new” at being a wife anymore.

Being a wife… is HARD! Not just suddenly thinking for two people, but also being responsible for a whole new set of things, and on the other hand letting go control on a bunch of other aspects in life.

Of course, there is the constant living and talking to each other, which is awesome! But, here we go, learning about “it’s not WHAT you say, it’s HOW you say it.” The husband and the wife are two separate beings, with two individual minds and two different agendas. They have both very good ideas and opinions, but once again, they are two. And now we are ONE.

We need to come up with ONE plan, ONE agenda. We need to figure out ONE set of rules, not two. We need to run our lives that match to ONE schedule, not two.
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Every time I drive around, aggressively albeit, on the streets and highways of Michigan, I get really excited when I see out of state license plates, especially those from the East Coast. And I’m pretty lenient about the definition of “East Coast”. I’ll take Virginia, Maryland, all of New England of course, Pennsylvania, New York, etc… I’ll even go a bit south into the Carolinas.

There is this constant excitement that I feel when I see a New York State license. “Yes!!” I think, “Finally!! Someone who understands that the speed limit is the MINIMUM that you can drive at!”

Of course, getting all excited, I try to drive behind or close the the NY car… only to find, upon closer observation, that it’s actually a Michigan license plate…

I shake my head and blink a few times. That’s weird, I was sure it was NY!

Another day, I spot a NY car again! Excitedly, I’m right next to the car. I take a closer look, they have Michigan bumper stickers all over it… and… it turns out to be a Michigan license plate, AGAIN!

Oh goodness, how do I keep mistaking these license plates?

I do this a few times… and every time I realize it’s not a NY car, I get really disappointed…

I finally realize why I’m making this seemingly stupid (but justifiable… keep reading, I promise) mistake. The NY license plate has blue borders and the plate color behind the numbers/alphabet Read the rest of this entry »

Midwest Postive

January 17, 2012

Notice that it’s singular.

Just kidding.

But I’ve noticed one big thing is that moving here has made me realized how rude the East Coast is… i.e. how rude I used to (still can be??) to be. And since it’s for survival, you just become so toughened up and used to the rudeness. You grow a thick shell. When someone yells at you or honks or yells at another driver or screams out their window, it’s no big deal. You shrug it off, or shake your fist, or yell back, whichever it is… you keep on going about with your life.

Here… I have not seen people yelling or shouting or shaking fists (or even shaking their heads) at people.
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Football is the talk

January 5, 2012

I have noticed here… that people always talk about… Football!

NFL or College Football (University of Michigan and Michigan State are the popular ones here) are both hot topics that everyone seems to talk about.

But that’s not just it… it seems like in the Midwest… that’s ALL they talk about. That plus “What church do you go to?” (Just kidding… no sane person would immediately sak that… except in the South… or maybe here in Michigan… just saying…

I sit at the bar, and the bartender brings up some football talk. I’m standing in the elevator, and some dude brings up football. My friends meet my other friends, and after introductions, they’re not sure what to say, and suddenly they talk football.
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Remedy to Road Rage

January 5, 2012

I’ve come to realize today… that if I sing really loudly and bounce around in my car, it actually helps eliminate (dull) my road rage. Not that I get that angry… but I do sometimes get annoyed. I’m sure this isn’t just in Michigan, and this may occur in many states or countries, but many times, people are driving without realizing that there are other people behind them, next to them, trying to merge or switch lanes to get off the highway…

Sometimes, as I’m trying to exit out the highway, the car that is whole car length behind me starts SPEEDING UP! Are you kidding me?!?!

Other times, I will safely be a car length behind a car in the left most lane… but that car is doing 65mph…. on a 70mph area… People have told me that it’s not okay to honk, so I just slowly follow them… until they decide to switch lanes or they have to get out at an exit.

There are many a times when people are barely in front of me in the next lane over, and then… THEY SWITCH INTO MY LANE.. which is annoying because it’s so close… but the worst thing?! THEY DON’T SIGNAL!!!! So dangerous!!
THAT I do honk at!

Anyhow… I can’t believe I’m devoting an entire entry on driving. This is kind of ridiculous, and I’m already feeling foolish at the end of this. Bottom line, I’m very happy today, because I realized that if I keep singing (mind you, if I rap, I’ll probably get even more worked up and ready to fight…) happy tunes, I end up being more able to let silly driving pho-pa’s slide…

that is… unless you suddenly cut into my lane with 2 feet difference and NO SIGNAL!!!

crazy peoples……

PS. Driving in Taipei and NYC and Philadelphia are sure ways to worsen your case of road rage… maybe Midwest IS helping me acquire a nicer attitude.. or maybe it’s just the sun and the singing today….

So here we are. Newly married, and trying to figure out how to balance the holidays. Some time spent just to ourselves as a couple, and how much time to spend with his parents. (My parents are currently in another country… so I’m guessing that’s not as easy to just spend a dinner or a weekend with.)

Christmas Eve, I went over to his parents’ house to have Hot Pot (it’s where you have a hot boiling pot of soup in the middle of the table, and you cook different things in it. It’s a very Asian get-together, family style of eating.)

On Christmas Day, we invited his parents over to our apartment to have Christmas dinner. This was our menu (for 4 people):

Turkey (in a soy-sauce based marinate, play on an Asian dish)
Green Beans with Garlic
Buttered Corn
Corn and Potato Chowder
Cranberry Sauce (which happened to be the hardest thing to find and buy)

Crepes Suzette
Red Bean Soup (a traditional Asian dish)

So as the food was cooking, I started cleaning. Our house isn’t messy, but I was stressed about the potential “inspection”. I’ve heard my mother-in-law previously talk about other women about being “princesses” when they don’t help clean or cook in the house.

So I start cleaning, I vacuum, I Windex every surface available to mankind in my house. The media center, the cabinet top (and doors and corners and edges), all the windows, the surface of our coffee tables (3) which all have glass surfaces, all the mirrors in both bathrooms. And the mirrors are HUGE. I kept having to switch hands because I’d cover a corner and my arm would be sore. I also windexed the faucet heads (They are metal and can get water stains, so it’s good to windex those, too.) Of course, you may think that I’m windexing with a towel or rag. BUT NO! That will definitely leave lint. Or you may assume I’m using the lint-less rags. Nope. I’m going hardcore.

NEWSPAPER! No lint, pulls off the oils, and works wonders cleaning windows and mirrors and any of those surfaces that need to be left glistening!

My place is clean, but I realized we didn’t really have festive decorations, so I tried to use the vases and ornaments the best I could, and concocted a few centerpieces. Luckily, I still had the bouquet that my husband got me for our first month anniversary (and it was still alive, despite me forgetting to feed it the “flower food” it came with). I had a few decorative items that I brought with me from Philadelphia that were used in the Philadelphia wedding. Perfect.

Times up! It’s 5pm. But they aren’t here yet. It’s 5:30pm, and they still aren’t here yet. Apparently, they wanted to give us “a few extra minutes” because they were worried we wouldn’t be ready by 5pm yet. That’s pretty thoughtful, although I’m pretty punctual when I cook, so I’m watching the food get cold as I start reheating everything in the oven and microwave.

My husband comes out and sees that I’m reheating the food and plating them and setting them on the dining table. He informs me that most dinner guests don’t immediately seat and have dinner. We usually serve a cocktail or a drink or some snacks, and then about 30 minutes after arrival, then the meal starts.

OMG. I did not know this! Now I have no idea what to do, because I just reheated everything and put it out. So I will have to reheat everything a second time… is that bad? There is probably something chemically that is happening after so many rounds of heating and reheating and nuking… Is this a suburban thing? Maybe it’s just a house thing… since I’m only emulating what I know, which is observed in restaurants, which is: Go in, sit down, order to eat.

Anyhow, that’s exactly what happened. We sat down and chatted and served some cocktails and wine. And then later got seated. Thankfully, no one got sick or food poisoning, so the reheating must have been okay… at least this time.

Whew. My first time “hosting” Christmas dinner for the in-laws. Didn’t go so bad… I think…

I went out with some of my new friends that I made in Michigan.

I was out in Royal Oak, the supposed “rittenhouse” and yuppie area of Michigan.

Yah right.

I was out there, we were at a bar and restaurant. This dude who was WHITE came in with a fro, told us it was with his company, cuz they were doing an “event” (not sure why it had to be a fro???),  but he was sitting next to us.

He asked us why I was there, I said I was new around the area. He said, why? I said my husband was a doctor and I just moved from the East Coast. He said his brother was also a doctor from this small hospital in Michigan. I was like, ok, great. I can’t even remember what happened next, but very quickly, he said I was Asian. I said I’m very aware that I am. Then he called me black. (WTF?!?!? I’m ASIAN, BUT how am I BLACK???). Then he proceeded to tell me that I don’t belong around here. And before I could even defend myself, he walked off. To tell the next few people in the restaurant loudly that I don’t belong there.
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Today, I was doing some routine grocery shopping, yes, in that suburbian looking SUV of mine… shopping in these ridiculously stepford wives looking areas…

I walk into a grocery store… and I lift an eyebrow as I walk past a sign saying “Impeach Obama”.

I finish my shopping, and now there is a guy standing there. A young Caucasian male with another young African American woman. I’m loading my groceries into my car trunk, and then the start waving at me and my husband. They were waving and saying hi to us. I was not in the mood.
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December 13, 2011

I’ve heard about this controversy before, but never had I actually lived in it.

Occasionally, I will have friends that have just moved from the Midwest and when they order a soda/fountain drink, they’ll call it pop. Usually the group laughs and makes some funny remark, we give our friend(s) a slap on the back or a high five. But pretty soon, the friends are all calling it soda or fountain drink.

Now, I’m in an overwhelming population that terms it “pop”. And there’s no assimilation about to happen here, because everyone around them also calls it “pop”!

Initially, I was at a restaurant, and the lady asked me if I wanted a pop. Now there is this recent drink gaining more and more fame. It’s a liquor mixed cocktail, topped off with pop rocks, yup, that’s right, like when-we-were-kids-pop-rocks. They coat the glass rim with pop rocks and then they also add some pop rocks into the bottom of the drink, and you’ve got bubbling sugar. Pretty tasty, actually.
So here I was, in a restaurant with some children around the table. Because as soon as she asked me, I was like, umm, this is a family dinner, are you asking me to order pop rocks in my cocktail and take it to the next level?? I had already ordered a cocktail, so I thought she was asking if I wanted to add pop rocks to it. Not that it’s indecent to add pop rocks, but it’s kind of a more festive, going out at night kinda thing. I kinda look at her, lost for words. She looks at me blankly, like this is just any normal day in the world. I look around my table, and my family and friends seem completely unperturbed and they continue to look at their menus. I take an unusually long time to finally regain my bearings. I look around the table and saw that some people had ordered sodas, I finally realized she was asking me if, in addition to my cocktail, I wanted another soda drink…. Ohhhh…..

So much for the pop rocks drink idea…
This was a good drink mix:(try it at home! It’s quite fun! and works for the holiday colors and holiday cheer!!! Of course do it only in adult company, or else it really confuses the kids… “Mommy! I want that Pop Rocks drink, too!” ……. awkward……..)

Rum + Triple Sec + Flavored Liquor    <— Rim with Pop rocks and add pop rocks (you can match your pop rocks flavor to your liquor flavor. hahah)

*Edit: It was actually extremely difficult to find an image of “soda” when you look up “pop” in the search engine. Maybe 10% of the images were of “pop” as a beverage/soft drink. But the other 90% of the images were like pop music, pop rocks, pop (the sound), popcorn (pop secret), lollipops, cake pops, blow pops, etc etc… But if you type “soda” into the search engine for images, it’s all about the Coca Cola and Pepsi products plus many many more…. interesting. Even Google Search has a preference for using Soda over Pop… (maybe it’s because it’s also on the coast? Apparently coastal regions use the word “soda”. Or it could be the population that uses Google search engine more frequently calls it soda? Or probably because soda solely means… soda… while pop can mean many other things.)
** See also demographic and geographical maps about the distribution of who/where calls it “Soda”, “Pop”,  or “Coke”.

I wanted to go with my husband to Saturday brunch tomorrow. Simple. Easy. No sweat. Everyone does it, and it’s so common, right?


Apparently, only ONE place offer brunch, and apparently it’s also only on Sunday. What?! Where is the brunch businesses?? Why isn’t anyone eating/demanding brunch service?

Apparently, it’s been a trend that has only been heavily wide spread in the last 5 years around NYC and Philadelphia and Boston. But Michigan is in the same time zone, EST… so why hasn’t the wild fire spread here yet?

Fine. It’s Friday afternoon, and Maybe they’ll have some restaurants with some outdoor seating with heat-lamps. You know, like the ones at Rouge or Parc or Farmers~!

Nope, they stop seating outdoors once September comes. “You’re 4 months too late!” they say. UGH~ what?! with heat lamps you can sit there till the middle of February! (Minus the time that Philadelphia had 60+ inches of snow and no money to plow the snow, and SEPTA (our buses and trains and subway) decides, at the same time, to throw a fit and go on strike. cry-babies…)

Alright, fine. We’ll sit indoors, and we won’t go to brunch, we’ll go to the normal lunch. Wait, no lunches available on Saturdays either. OMG. FINE. We’ll just go to the normal person dinner then! Let’s find us some restaurants! :)

If you are looking for a way to quickly find a list of restaurants (for whatever purposes: dinner, happy hour, lunch, brunch, etc), I’d highly recommend you pull the city’s Restaurant Week roster. This usually will give you about 80% of the nice restaurants in town. The other 20%  will either come on board next year or have a big nose that they stick  in the air and don’t care to join in. (Yes yes, I agree that Restaurant Week is a nightmare and the patrons are horrible. I personally DON’T participate in Restaurant Week, I just use the list… haha). Oh, and you ask why the other 20% will probably come on board next year? Because since the bad economy hit in 2007-2008, restaurant businesses have been losing a lot of money. If you notice the trends, you’ll see that restaurants that used to be too upp-ity to join restaurant week or Center City Sips, now have joined. In addition, MANY restaurants have regular daily happy hours and many places have ADDITIONAL specials for Mondays and Tuesdays (these are the famous dead days in the service industry, service industry including bars and restaurants).

Anyhow… I digress. My point is, let’s go pull up Michigan’s Restaurant Week. Let’s look at their downtown, where some of the best restaurants in the state are located. Apparently, they also have a few Iron Chef restaurants that reside here. Getting excited! The list, ladies and gentleman…(drumroll, please!)…… 20 restaurants.
WHAT?! is there another secret list that I don’t know of? (and I’ve already been to 10+ of the 20…) Some of them are just burger joints. I’m dying here. What happened to a list of over 200 restaurants? ok, fine, 100? no… fine, 50? Nope… 21 restaurants. :(

I will STARVE out here!!!

Someone please mail order me some gourmet food!!!!

Let it snow Let it snow…

December 9, 2011

I’m in the tundra…

It’s been snowing since last night and it’s still snowing and it’s already noon here. WHERE IS THE SUN?!

I just checked the temperature for today. It’s supposed to be about 19F here in Michigan tonight and I’m supposed to go to a formal holiday party. Say What?!

It’s currently in the 50F’s in Philadelphia. I still have so many of my 40F-50F outfits that I haven’t worn yet, and Michigan has already sped up it’s snowmakers… and it’s now in the teens?! I did not expect this! I was still dilly dallying in my peep-toe shoes and mid-heavy jackets. Yes, we have seasons on the East Coast.

That probably answers why a week ago when I went to dinner with my girl friend (out of the total of 2 friends I currently have in Michigan), she told me to get into boots instead of my peep-toe heels. To which is laughed, “What? Wear boots to a girls’ dinner out in November? Please!”

Ok, I see what she means, there is obviously no autumn here. I still have yet to wear skirts and dresses with boots… Oh c’mon, you know what I mean! It’s when the weather is cold enough to wear boots, but still warm enough that you can wear a skirt/dress without having to wear leggings underneath the dress and boots. Right? Can I get an Amen?

Ok, hopefully I’m not the only one who calculates weather and depends heavily on the gradient of the weather for trying out different combinations of outfits. (Men, that’s why we need so many different coats, shoes, clothes in general. Our wardrobe season spans much more than just the summer and winter. We also have cool summer, hot summer, early spring, wet spring, windy spring, overly hot spring, early autumn end of summer, crisp autumn, warm autumn, cold autumn, sunny but cold winter, gloomy winter, snowy winter, freezing look-like-a-marshmellow winter, sunny and warm winter, etc etc…)  But this morning, looking at the piles of snow in Michigan makes me realize that I may need to:

1. Put away my late autumn early winter wardrobe, fitted for the only the East Coast.


2. Hurry and quickly wear those early winter (still slightly warm) outfits before it gets colder (apparently it gets worse around here. omg…) and even though it’s gonna be a bit cold, I need to just suck it up and get through it. Live in my own East Coast winter…

I choose 2.

(Wow, I feel really shallow that I had such a long inner dialogue just about the clothes regarding the mini-seasons*.)

*mini-seasons: my new term that describes the in between seasons from the major four (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter). See above for more detailed breakdown.

So no matter if you’re driving around NYC or Philadelphia, you always… and I mean ALWAYS gas up in New Jersey. Why? Because on average, NJ gas is about 40-50 cents cheaper. Yes, I know we’ll have to pay for all those bridge tolls and NJ turnpike is a nightmare… but still, when we make that NJ trip, we fill up our gas tanks and get some groceries in their huge Wegmans and go shop in their crazy malls. Free clothes tax, remember?

So the cheap gas is why we fill up in NJ, but there is another thing that is an added on bonus…. FREE SERVICE GAS STATIONS!! Actually, it’s not always the best thing. If you open up your door, you WILL get yelled at by the gas station attendants. Apparently, it is the NJ law that all gas stations are full service. It is also the law that a customer CANNOT pump their own gas (I’m not complaining~!).

So… after being completely spoiled with not only cheap gas but also someone pumping your gas all the time… I realize that I don’t know how to pump gas. (Taiwan gas stations are also full service).

I’m in Michigan now, and there is no more full service gas stations. I have been struggling. Like I forgot to open my gas tank cover as I got out the car today, and I did the whole swipe your credit card thing. Then I got the nozzle (which took me a few times to figure out how to unhook) and realized I needed to open my car door, to get to my gas tank door button thing. So with the nozzle in hand, I ballerina over the hose, open the open door, pull the tank door, close my car door, all the while dripping gas…. gross.

And it’s COLD now, too! It’s freezing!

So now… I have pumped my own gas… twice. Yessss!

As I drive out of the gas station, I look at the high non-NJ prices, and am really sad that I can no longer sit in my warm car, as I roll the window or crack the door to say “Regular” or “Premium” and hand them my credit card as I wait for the tank to fill.

I came home kind of sad today. But then again, I remember that I’m really just doing what the rest of the 49 states are doing, freeze while gassing. Just decades later than most.

Why do guys like long hair?

December 6, 2011

There is something about the long hair on a woman that men love… and can’t stop loving.

Sure, the occasional celebrity scores a bob or an above the shoulder cut and still is deemed hot, if not even hotter (re: Charlize Theron, Uma Thurman, Katie Holmes).

But for us “common folk”, it seems like long hair is the way to go, and short hair is the way to lose a guy. (I’m talking the 85%… Gals with stunning bobs no need to be offended and can stop reading here if need be…)

So why is it that guys like long hair more than short hair? And it’s not even just long hair in a bun or ponytail… it’s long hair let down… That’s right. All that hair, untied, not pulled back, blowing in the wind, getting in our faces and having strands stick out centrifugally from our faces… You can’t even hardcore hairspray that “let your hair all down” look… since it needs to “sway” and “blow” and “move” naturally. And of course… the hair flip…

So why long hair, and especially the all let down look? Here are a few reasons I’ve heard.

1. So it doesn’t feel like I’m dating a dude.

My rebuttal: what?!?!?! Does my FACE look like a dude’s? Or that mascara that I use? Or the lips that I have? Hello!! And besides, just because a woman gets a short hairdo, her haircut is usually different than that of a dude’s. Does Katie Holmes haircut look like Brad Pitt’s? Didn’t think so. (Although I can think of many men (read: Justin Beiber?) that have haircuts like Katie Holmes… just sayin…)

2. I can’t play with her hair.

My rebuttal: Aw.. how sweet. Um, we’re not in 2nd grade here. If you’re talking about braiding our hair, that’s just creepy. If you’re talking about pushing the hair out of our eyes, or maybe tucking that lose strand of hair behind our ears… we’re not BALD, we just have shorter hair! And we have bangs, so you can push that hair and tuck that strand. You say, so I can run my fingers through her hair! Ok, we girls “run our fingers through YOUR hair” as well… and sometimes all you give us is a buzzed army cut! but We make due!

3. It just looks more feminine.

My rebuttal: Ok, while I can pull up many many examples on google images showing women that look much more feminine and sophisticated with their short hair looks, I can understand this misunderstanding. Long hair is the thing that many men think differentiate the male to the female (nevermind the lumps on our chest or our softer skin or our different facial features, lack of the adam’s apple, softer/higher voices, etc etc). But truth be told, many women look childish and young with long hair, and especially when it’s all let down, the hair looks messy, she looks unenergetic, unprofessional, etc etc. So the short hair helps some women with looking more sophisticated, and some to look more professional (so they’re taken more seriously at work in a man’s world… read: irony).

4. But the long hair can’t be too long.

My alarming shock: WHAT?! How demanding can you men be regarding our personal head of hair?! You want it to be long, but not too long. So it needs to be past the shoulders (at least), best if it’s a few inches past. But it definitely should not be long to the butt (or even touch the top of the lower back). You guys are crazy. So too long looks childish and unsexy to the men. Interesting. And too short also looks unattractive. So really… you men like: middle ranged hair.


Well, I’ve had long hair (never had the patience to go past the lower back), and short hair (bob style! yay!). I’ve had that middle neck /on the shoulder length. And also had it straight and curled. I honestly think that though men have a “preference” (albeit odd but the majority), I will say that a women’s attractiveness is not all in her hair. So whether you have long hair or short hair, a real man who is really worth your time will see that you’re beautiful as you are and see you as a person worth getting to know. Not write you off because your hair is a few millimeters off his range standard.

And so should you keep your long hair and resist that urge to try out that stylish bob (like on Katie Holmes)? Or should you resist that urge to trim your hair because now you want to grow it out?

Nope. I think you should do what you want with your hair. Try out that bob or keep your short hair. If you love the way you look, people can see that. And I promise you, that’s way more attractive and alluring than the “long, let your hair down, hair flip, flip flip flip” look.

When I just moved into my building in Michigan, I noticed that many of the tenants knew each other. Often times, when I’d be in the elevator (and since we’re on the 26th floor) on the way down, we’d usually pick up many more people. They always would say hi to each other, and sometimes they’d start asking each other about the weather and Michigan football or hockey or baseball, etc. I thought to myself, “Wow, this is a nice community! Everyone knows everyone! It’s weird though, considering that there are a few hundred units here… I wonder how they all know each other? Maybe they have gatherings or parties or common areas?”

One day, I was coming down the elevator, and another person joined me on the elevator. Perhaps that day I looked friendlier or something, not sure what, but this 2nd person said to me “Hi, how are you doing today?” I think, wait, maybe she’s mistaking me for someone else… Um… er… I quickly answer, “Fine, thanks.”
Then another person enters the elevator, and she says the same thing to the 3rd person! Ohhh!! I get it!! They don’t ACTUALLY know each other! They’re just greeting each other!!!

OMG! Then my response “Fine, thanks” is just that automatic East Coast response. I should have said something like, ‘Greeeat! And how are you today?!” I totally forgot to ask her back! Arg! How rude of me!! OMG!
And my tone! OMG! My tone must have that mono-tone from that East Coast, where it sounds like, “thanks for asking, ok, but we don’t have to continue this conversation.”
And my body language!!! As soon as she asked me, I unconsciously started shifting myself towards the wall of the elevator, staring at the button panel, and shoving myself into a small corner. OMG, my body language totally communicates that I’m “anti-social” and “please don’t talk to me”. ARG!!!
I wonder if I offended her? hurt her feelings?!

The elevator stops, we all get out. I’m sure she doesn’t even remember this, or maybe she just thinks I’m weird.

But finally I got it… they don’t all know each other… they just all greet each other.

OHHHHH, okay! Got it… ok, will start altering my behavior now….

My husband is a doctor and I was waiting for him in this boutique hospital’s lobby area (in Michigan). I was working on my laptop and had been sitting there for about two hours.

People were walking around back and forth, since I was sitting closeby to some elevators.

I called up a friend in Philadelphia, just to chat. After only looking down at my computer, I was looking around while chatting on the phone. Suddenly, around the corner of the hallway, I saw a middle age man in a suit with a hospital badge. He looked straight at me and started walking towards me with a weird smile on his face. He slowed down a few feet from me, saw that I was on the phone, and then kept walking towards the elevators. I was somewhat alarmed, so I told me friend on the phone to give me a sec.

I pulled down my head set, and leaned forward, and asked the man in a clear voice, “Is there a problem?’

I was worried that this man was going to ask me, “Excuse, you can’t sit here for this long.” or “Are you waiting for someone?” or “What is your business here, you’ve been occupying these seats for a very long time, this is for patients only.” Or something along those lines.  Perhaps he was being polite, since he saw me on a call, so he didn’t want to yell at me then… but if there’s a problem, I’d like to know ASAP so I can gather my things and move if needed. But please tell me, and I’ll move immediately. Looking at me, hesitating… and then walking away only makes me more nervous!

So I say “Is there a problem?” And then… the man answers, “Nope, no problem. Just smiling.”


OMG… I’m so mortified. This guy was only trying to smile and be nice. OMG OMG…. I wanted to disappear… I quickly apologize, saying “I’m sorry, I just moved from the East Coast, we don’t smile that often out there…”   (he just walks away into the elevator by then…)

As I hear my friend on my phone yelling, “What?!?!? We smile in Philadelphia! And in Boston! And in NYC!!”

I get back on the line, “No we don’t! If you walked around Center City with a BIG SMILE on your face as you looked STRAIGHT at each person, and said hello to random people, people would think 1. you’re crazy or 2. you mistook them for someone you knew.” She thinks about it and says, “True…”

As I continued our discussion of behaviors of smiling to random people in the hyper crazy cities… I noticed… more people trying to smile at me. And then people started saying hello to me. Then I realized people started smiling at me and trying to SIT next to me! OMG! what is going on!

Usually when we walk around in Center City, you either look straight ahead, avoid eye contact, or you look down on the ground that you’re walking on. Don’t believe me? Look out the window of your office or apt or bus.

Yes yes, we will smile if we’re at the check out line, or greet “How are you?” to the cashier. For my boutique apartment complex, there aren’t many units, and so it’s a pretty small and private community. When you want to be nice in the elevator, you say “what floor?” in a pleasant sound so you can help them press their floor. And if you’re really nice that day, when they leave you can initiate “Have a good one (good night, good evening, good day)!” And sometimes they answer, other times they mumble… Most of the times, two people just walk into the elevator, stare straight at the floor, the door, or the changing numbers (if the elevators have them) and then walk out. Minimal exchange of interactions seems to be norm.

I’ve been greeted a few times on the streets of Philadelphia. Once was a crazy man who was yelling at me and tried to hit me in broad daylight at 8am. (I was just walking to my bus stop). He then continued to yell at the next passerbys… and ALL of us, just looked down or straight and avoided him and quickly kept walking. Another time, it was 5pm, sunny day, a man bee-lines towards me and tries to grab me. I stop short. He stops short, and says, “How you doin?”

If people approach you, usually my alert system goes up, I’m in high defensive mode.

So now, midwesterners are all just being nice, but accidentally triggering my super nervous alarm mode. So I have a bunch of false alarms going off every few seconds. I’m so exhausted. I know I’m insane. And I want to enjoy all this nice-ness. But it keeps catching me off guard, and I need more time to relax and get used to this (and not misinterpret it as a potential oncoming threat).

I keep getting so uncomfortable and also keep being caught off guard and being at a loss for words (which is rare and also way awkward for me)… I decided to pack up my things.

I walked into the parking lot, found our car, and I went to go sit in my car. I finished my work and my lunch there.

I was so overwhelmed by the nice-ness and was so uncomfortable with all the hellos and smiles, and also did not know what to do with myself…. I had to lock myself in my car, to hide out.

OMG! You guys are so nice! and Smiling!! this is so weird!


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