Working weekend

So there we are, wildly navigating the weekend mall crowd, trying to avoid body slamming any of the ten thousand people, faces buried in cellphones, walking straight into us, or trampling on random 2-year-olds toddling out of the woodwork. I honestly have a lot of trouble with this.

So when I hear someone mention the word lunch, I practically jump for joy. It’s only temporary relief, I know, but at least I can park myself somewhere…

… and put myself to good use! What, work on a weekend, you ask?! Let me explain.

At my girl friend’s suggestion, we wind up at a restaurant that I’ve passed by a million times without stopping. The place is always crowded but as you know, I’m not in the habit of assuming long lines mean good food. Umm, not necessarily.

We walk in. I’m not sure if we’re shown to our table or if we seated ourselves. Probably seated ourselves LOL. I’m not sure. I was distracted by the overpowering smell of pork in this place. We sit down and peruse the copies of menus strewn haphazardly across each table.

There’s the usual back and forth about what’s good here and my friend names a few things I should try, fried rice among them. Oh, and dumblings. Then she grabs pencil and order form, hands them to me and says, “Let’s fill this up”, and I’m like, “Oh, they make you work before they serve you, eh? Great concept!”

Okay so the customer has to fill out an order form, then wave like a marooned sailor to catch the attention of a willing passing server to pick up the form and send it along to the kitchen. Oh that’s right, I recall entering my order into a tablet at a couple of swankier places.

As we sit anticipating the arrival of lunch, I look around and imagine the food here must be pretty out of this world. I mean, if so many people are willing to line up and work for their lunch, there must be something special about this place. Here’s the spoiler: their food is meh! 맛덦어요 종말!

The server stops by with our bowls of noodles and dumplings just long enough to plonk everything at the edge of the table, then makes a quick getaway. Oh, more work, I see!?! Gotta give those biceps a workout before lunch, y’know! Like all good customers, we distribute the bowls between us, then help ourselves to the eating utensils sprouting from a stand nearby.

I look around the room and everyone is their weekend selves, including the wait staff. people are chatting happily away and having a good time. No one seems to be complaining. Well, I shouldn’t either. I should be lucky they aren’t hustling me off to the kitchen to cook my own noodles and steam my own dumplings!

Soon we’re done eating, chatting and fighting over who’s going to pay. Somewhere in the back of my mind, a giant question mark is popping up. Is there more work waiting for us? And bam, what do you know? My friend picks up the order form, physically transports it to the cashier’s desk and proceeds to hand over her hard-earned money, service charges and all.

You mean, all this time, I’ve been fooling myself into thinking that dining at a full service restaurant means I’m paying someone to cook and serve me without me having to lift a single finger? Haha, silly me!

To the movies, 21st century style

To the movies, 21st century style

So I received a text message from a stranger: 오늘 밤에 영화를 볼까요 우리? (Shall we go for a movie tonight?)

I was almost expecting a chime of excited voices and a whole lot of high five-ing at the mention of the word ‘movie’. “What movie? We wanna go, we wanna go!” followed by the hustle and bustle of getting dressed, the mad dash for the bathroom, and everyone eventually piling into my minivan.

As a mom, my life has revolved endlessly around my three kids. The daily taxi runs, sometimes up to 15 times a day. The meal planning and cooking. The grocery runs. The home-baked birthday cakes. The home haircuts. I insisted on doing everything myself, diehard hands-on mom that I am.

To me, mommy ‘me’ time is for the birds. I never hankered for it and I didn’t need any of it. I was enjoying my kids too much as they were growing up. I was too busy creating memories with them. Hip2bDad had all but given up trying to date me.

But now, here I was reading this unlikely text on my phone and I’m like: 정말요? 데이트? (Really? A date?) It took a whole 22 and a quarter nanoseconds for it to sink in. Well, now that all this ‘me’ time has fallen on my lap, I guess I should start dating Hip2bDad again, so: 👌 하자. (Okay, let’s.)

Trust us to pick a Saturday night. The mall was a jungle and like vultures, we circled, hovered, then circled the parking lot again till we found a spot. Of course, it had to be at the farthest end of the mall from the cinema.

No worries though. We make it a point to be early getting anywhere. Hip2bDad has a very low tolerance for tardiness. The movie wasn’t till an hour and a half later. We still had plenty of time. Oh, look, there’s barely even a line at the ticket counter. We’re in luck!

Or so we thought. One glance at the cinema seating chart sent us reeling back. There were only 4 seats left AND all of them were singles. Oh, great, things sure are looking up for us! Okay, so do we forget the whole thing now and go home? Or do we bite the bullet and go ahead even if we have to sit apart?

To the movies, 21st century style

It wouldn’t make sense to go to a movie together and sit miles apart. It wouldn’t make sense either to go home after that hassle of finding a parking spot. So like any other couple on our first date (in probably 15 years), we decided nothing was going to get in our way..

The ticketing guy stared at us like we’d gone nuts. “Are you sure?” he asked several times with eyeballs the size of footballs. I don’t blame him. I swear he was thinking, what the heck! But ya! I’m a big girl. I can handle watching a movie alone!

Hip2bDad walked me to my seat at A3. Ever the gentleman, he said, “You take this. This seat is wider and more comfortable”. And then I watched him ride off into the sunset. To his seat at L20! Wa-aay down and across the hall. I craned my neck hoping to catch a glimpse of him but the lights went out at that very instant.

Alone in the darkness, there was nothing left to do but text each other. Welcome to 21st century dating!

Be not afraid of greatness

Be not afraid of greatness

For a guy who was hunched over a rickety old desk in a dim, candle-lit room with a quill pen, he sure produced some of the greatest and best loved writing. I’m talking about Shakespeare, of course, who left us with his literary works of art 400 years ago this week. The man is brilliant, what can I say? Strange how I speak of him in the present tense as if he were still alive.

I read two of his plays in my Literature class and I’ve been in love ever since. Of course, it helped that my teacher took such pains to delve into details and often even play-acted the scenes for us. The class was so fun and interesting I didn’t even mind having to memorize all those crazy many quotes.

The opening act of Twelfth Night starts out with some of my favorite lines. Here the lovesick Orsino is asking his musicians to give him an overdose of music to drown his pining for love.

If music be the food of love, play on

Give me excess of it; that surfeiting,

The appetite may sicken, and so die.

My favorite quote from Act  3 Scene 1 of Julius Caesar is where Caesar compares himself to the unwavering nature of the Northern Star, the one thing sailors of old could always count on to bring them home safely.

But I am constant as the Northern Star,

Of whose true fixed and resting quality

There is no fellow in the firmament.

Back in the day, I was constantly quoting Shakespeare. I just couldn’t stop. I know, I probably sent some people of my dates spinning. But for me, the literary freak and hopeless romantic, Shakespeare was huge.

I don’t quote Shakespeare quite as often these days but I treasure my beautifully aged volume of the Complete Works of William ShakespeareComplete Works of William Shakespeare, a birthday surprise from someone who was obviously as spellbound by my Shakespearean quotes as I was with the  great writer himself LOL.

Be not afraid of greatness

I think you look handsome here, just like I always imagined you. 고맙습니다 (thank you) for inspiring the writer in me!

The things we can cook with our eyes closed

The things we can cook with our eyes closed

Someone just sailed into the office and announced that he and his girlfriend had had sandwiches for lunch. “Can you believe how much I paid for two sandwiches?”, he lamented, shaking his head.

I looked over at him sadly. I could’ve told him right there. You could’ve gotten those sandwiches for free. If you’d watched your mom and learned how easy-peasy it is to slap a sandwich together.

The things we can cook with our eyes closed

Sadly you kids don’t pay attention and now you’re paying through your nose for something you could’ve done in 5 minutes flat and impressed the heck out of your girlfriend. Because she probably thinks it’s rocket science and you needed some fancy recipe to put it together.

But I held it all in. After all, there’s my girl friend, a mother of two young men, who never fails to order some variant of an egg dish whenever we eat at Chinese restaurants. Steamed eggs. Half-boiled eggs. Loaded omelet. You name it.

The things we can cook with our eyes closed

It’s always been a mystery to me. When our kids were little, yes, I could see why. We had to have some child-friendly dishes so we wouldn’t set them on fire with our grown-up spicy food or make little porcupines out of them with those pesky fish bones. But now? I consider it an insult to our college-age egg-frying experts!

Then there’s those other things me or my kids can cook at home, in our pajamas, with our eyes closed. Like those big breakfasts with the even bigger price tags.

The things we can cook with our eyes closed

Which takes, oh, 15 minutes max to assemble. 진짜 (seriously)! And if we were ordering this, we would’ve had to send the eggs back to the kitchen to have them “WELL DONE, not runny, GET THAT??”. And no one wants to start their day barking at people who can’t get that a sunnyside-up may look all bright and cheery but it’s not for everyone!

True, our food don’t always look as good, presentation-wise. I mean, good looks are great especially if you haven’t had to resort to plastic surgery to get there. But hey, there’s more important things in life than good looks.

Like the taste, for instance. When I was a kid, I would jump for joy at the very mention of eating at a restaurant. Restaurant food always meant delicious food that cost a lot of money, and that you didn’t get to eat at home. Always. I can’t say that’s true any more. Sure it’s still fogging expensive but as for the food being always delicious, well, I’d say 별로 (don’t hold your breath)!

And getting to control the ingredients, now that’s always a great way to pacify the occasional control freak in me.

And getting to make and eat a ton more than the piddly portions the restaurants serve us, now that’s a definite plus, and definitely a post for another day.

Oh, just one thing. Yes, I realize I just said fogging on a family-friendly site. Since my kids are pretty much grown (or so I’d like to think), I’m going to exercise my freedom to use some of the more refined vocabulary I picked up from my American education. Rest assured, I don’t use them in real life or in front of my kids unless someone cuts me off in traffic or can’t get my eggs done right.

Friend and flock

You know those deep, meaningful conversations you have with close friends? Don’t you just love those? Yeah, me too!

They can be quite refreshing. For one thing, you don’t have to worry about being judged because there’s no way your close friends are going to judge you, right? *ponders* 😐

Well, they know you so well you can practically say anything and know you can get away with it, right? *ponders* 😔

Yeah so, we had one of those while driving to dinner at LK.

Friend: I haven’t been to LK for quite a while because A (a mutual friend) prefers to eat at S.

Me: Yeah, but the food at S isn’t any good.

Friend: What do you mean, it’s not good??!! It’s always crowded!

Me: So?!! That doesn’t mean their food is good.

Friend: What are you saying? Why do you think it’s so popular? There are always long lines.

Me: Because people have poor taste?!!

Silence.

I was going to add:

Because people are like sheep these days. All it takes is for one person to say this is tasty, or the internet to say that is delicious, and the next thing you know the flock is rushing there regardless of whether the food is actually good or not. Peace out! 😉

Why I love paper bags

My regular grocery store makes us pack our own groceries and passes on those savings to us in the form of lower prices. What a wonderful thing, right? Oh wait, there’s more!

At the end of the checkout line, there’s also a choice of plastic or paper bags to use. No prizes for guessing which one is my number one choice. The paper bags, of course! It’s one of those times I get to feel good about doing my teeny tiny part for the environment.

Not to mention that carrying my groceries in a paper bag is pure nostalgia. In my college days, I’d be hugging two paper bags stuffed to the brim with the week’s groceries. I swear they were so heavy I almost felt I would lose my grip and drop everything.

I recycle all my paper bags and use them for trash. That makes me feel much better than tossing out plastic bags which I know are going to that landfill to choke up the environment for a million years. And that’s not funny! at all!! Go hug a paper bag instead!

Reflecting on 2015

Here we are, on a freezing cold last day of the year. Yeah, it has been unseasonably cold this winter. Still that’s not going to dampen my mood. It’s bright and sunny out. I don’t see why this last post of the year can’t be exactly that! Let me see… so what piqued my interest in 2015.

Cooking firsts

This has been a year of cooking up a storm of new recipes and ending up loving all of them. Seriously I don’t think there’s anything we didn’t like and that includes my homemade cranberry sauce and vanilla cupcakes with strawberry icing. As for my Asian cooking, which isn’t my forte, I’m laughing that I managed to cook these.

  • out of this world radish soup
  • steamed egg with homemade salted egg – a little watery from the condensation but still good
  • glutinous black rice soup
  • gajinamul (eggplant Korean sidedish)
  • ginger and spring onion tilapia fillets (always loved this at Chinese restaurants but didn’t think I could wing it at home without a recipe)
  • charsiew (barbecue) pork steak – omg, totally awesome!

New loves

  • Beef stew noodles, where have you been all my life? Omg, I can’t even begin to describe the intensity of this rich beefy soup made with 9 herbs and spices that our favorite Chinese restaurant chef says he brings in from San Francisco. Confession, I’ve never eaten tripe and never thought I’d like it so much!
  • Shrimp tempura in a box? C’mon, no way!! But yes, finally we don’t have to look sadly at those one or two pitiful shrimp tempura peeking out of a sparsely populated bento box. Now we can eat plump crispy shrimp tempura till we bounce up and down like helium balloons.
  • Tin roof sundae, bartlett pears, apple pears, grapefruit – what’s not to love?
  • Sampling food at Costco where they give out portions you can actually taste instead of those measly microscopic bits that do nothing more than get stuck in your teeth.
  • Going to basketball games and cheering like a crazy LOL.

Learning experiences

  • People can promise you the world but it doesn’t mean they will deliver. Lots of those around.
  • Bring cupcakes to a potluck. Everyone loves ’em.
  • Don’t waste your time on b*tches, witches and ditchers.
  • Don’t settle for lukewarm Vietnamese noodle soup. It tastes better piping hot.
  • When in drought, go to a car wash. It’s fun watching the soap bubbles dribble down the windows and it’s even more fun vacuuming the car yourself.

Okay, and I’m off to bake an orange cake. Have a safe and amazing 2016. Happy New Year!

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