|hazy daytime view of downtownTaipei from Elephant Mountain|
|posing in front of the large Dr. Seuss-esque paper tree inside of Taipei 1O1. w/ Kevin, Amy, Leo, and Kelly.|
|The three loveliest Sugarplum Fairies practicing for their upcoming performance in "The Nutcracker" @ the National Theater. Taipei, Taiwan ROC.|
|post-caroling Christmas cookies and hot chocolate with Pastor Dennis and his wife, Kay at their apartment here in Taipei. Great people.|
|I mean, really... what says "Merry Christmas" more than an enormous cup of Instant Noodles?|
|more practicing for "The Nutcracker". Merry Christmas! Shengdan Kuaile!|
Though, last Christmas WAS.... an adventure. After a moderately cold night or two walking around Xinyi- looking at and posing with the light displays, on Christmas Day I went hiking in the rain (and up many stairs, I remember) with my friend Leo (who, when he's not busy doing engineering work, really should moonlight as a hiking guide here-- he knows all of the mountains in Taiwan), his wife Kelly, and Amy, Young and Kevin. I just remember it was very wet, thinking we'd laugh when it was over- we were all dry. I ended up completely ripping my dark green, billowy, "MC Hammer pants" that I had bought in Chiang Mai a year earlier, and THEN to our surprise when we came home to Amy's apartment we ended up spending a good 15 minutes pulling leeches (AGHHHH! UGHHHH! there's another one!!!") off of our bodies. HOT SHOWERS and WARM CLOTHES and BACON SANDWICHES and SKYPING with our respective families =ed HEAVEN. Thank God. RESPITE. and now.... we have pictures and the memories... and we are (still) laughing and can fondly remember. Sitting here in warm, dry clothes. :)
|Leaf hat/umbrella. All the rage. Lady Gaga already called up asking us to make her one.|
|Pretty much. Wet. Cold. Ragged. The struggle is real, folks.|
|natural beauty. That's "Some Spider!"|
|"I KNOW HIM!!!!!" and he surprised me. First time in 3 years he found me here in Asia. December 2013.|
|Christmas Dinner 2013. Warm, dry clothes and crispy bacon. It's the little things. :)|
|Woo-hoo! Landed in NY! "Jet-lagged, super-excited, expat-Americans 'Run on Dunkin' ".|
It was late at night- around 8-9pm when we landed in NY but that didn't stop Mom, Dad, Me, and our driver from stopping at Dunkin Donuts for some WARM, DELICIOUS coffee. It was a little COLD in NY compared to Taipei. Plus, DD is awesome.... and sadly, no longer exists in Taiwan. It was as... close to perfect as it could be. At this point, I'm comfortable going "between worlds". There isn't any culture shock or reverse culture shock going to/from Taiwan to New York and vice versa. I know "what's expected of me" and pretty much "what to expect" in both places, if that makes any sense. It's not that I'm "fake" or change myself to fit where I am, but I just know that certain parts of me are going to come out more than others in different places. It's kind of like knowing that different environments require different skills that you possess. It's like skiing versus cycling. Both require the use of your legs, but in different ways. Regardless, I am comfortable and at home in both places now and THAT makes traveling so easy ... hard to leave people on one side, but at the same time, knowing that I have people "on the other side" that I can't wait to see again and who can't wait to see me. Kind of like "heaven" and "hell" rolled into one. I love you/I miss you. I love YOU/I miss YOU. I only wish I had a girlfriend, a wife, partner to do it all with.... someone who would be up for adventure, flexible, someone to make the journeys back and forth with. That's really the only thing I feel that I want more than anything at this point, the thing I'm ready for. I don't know..... do I really have to wait to "settle down" in New York when this "adventure" is "over" to "nest" and find someone? Can't I find a partner "on the road"? .... I've come close, and I have friends who met out here, who have long-term relationships out here. It's possible. I guess, it will happen when it's supposed to.
What struck me the most being home this time was
#1. "Wow, New Yorkers are SO friendly" - whether it was at a gas station getting gas or coffee or walking around Khol's or Shoprite, shopping, etc. fellow shoppers/workers random strangers were chatting me up, so talkative ("Can ya believe.....yadayadayada, etc?") and helpful.
#2."Wow, Americans in general, really are heavier than people in Asia". I HAVE seen obese Taiwanese people on the MRT here on a rare occasion and people are probably heavier than they used to be in general in Taipei/bigger cities in Asia now especially- thanks to the introduction of Burger King, KFC, Krispy Kreme, McDonald's, and those huge, sugary cups of milk tea, no doubt. So it's not as if obesity is impossible in Asia. But, I think a combination of diet and outdoor activity- biking, hiking, playing basketball etc- still keep Taiwanese people at an advantage when it comes to staying trim-- though the temptations/bakeries/ice cream options ARE mounting here!
Back to my "Home For Christmas" trip, I couldn't believe the "VARIETY" of options of clothes and shoes in the mall and foods at the grocery store at home. It was blinding. I have my staples here that I enjoy in Taiwan - yogurt, certain cereals, an abundance and VARIETY of fruit, a variety of coffee from different coffee shops, dumpling spots, etc. But in New York .... there was so much more. I felt like Belle setting her eyes on the Beast's enormous library for the first time in "Beauty and the Beast". I saw things that I wanted to buy for "my kids" - my students- in Taipei, things I wanted to buy for my aunts/family, things I wanted to buy for myself ("Hello H&M!!!!" -- at that point, the flagship store that just opened up here about a month ago now, had not yet opened in Taiwan.) It felt GOOD to be home. It was kind of cool to wake up and make myself a toasted Thomas' English muffin with butter and jelly and a cup of coffee and sit in front of the tv and watch "Kelly and Michael" at 9am on ABC, to "catch up" with some of "The Real Housewives.... on Bravo, etc. But still, I KNEW in my gut that it wasn't "time yet".... as in, not time to "go back for good".
|ahhhh baking cookies. making Gingerbread. MUST have an oven for the holidays.|
|Sisters. Aunt Anne, Mom, Aunt Joan|
|Christmas Day 2014 w/ my cuzzzins. Yes, that's MY right hand holding that wine glass.|
It WAS strange coming back to Taipei at first- esp because I felt a little of that post-holiday emptiness. I still had a friend in New Jersey and I was like.... "Hey, this doesn't feel right. I WANT to be able to stay for another week TOO!" But then, time has a way of helping you to remember your old routines and responsibilities. It keeps you distracted and occupied enough to not think about anything outside of "the bubble" that you've bounced back into. The guabao and dumplings and danbing and wax apples and roasted sweet potatoes ...also keep your stomach full of fresh Taiwanese goodness and can keep those primal, native cries for NY Pizza and Bagels buried far down to where you cannot hear them or feel them.... until they are unearthed, instantly awakened upon your next return to New York, of course.
I am happy to have spent this Christmas in my "biological home" but as long as I'm with people that I love, I think, at this point, I can celebrate it anywhere in the world and still feel warm, happy, home. I'd love to celebrate one year in London visiting Amy, maybe another year with friends/cousins-family in Antigua, Guatemala - my cousin's wife's brother - John Rexer- owns a mezcal company - "Ilegal Mezcal". They are based in Antigua, Guatemala but they distribute to bars/restaurants/liquor stores all over the world. Go out and find em' in NYC, people!!! He ALSO owns a bar down there in Antigua "CAFE NO SE". I rarely drink it, and haven't looked for it/subsequently FOUND it here in Taiwan but I remember, similar to tequila you can drink it straight, on the rocks, or mix it in drinks. I remember mezcal tasting kind of "smokey". Dark and delicious. I'd pick it over tequila any day. I haven't been yet, but Antigua looks beautiful, ripe with adventure. I think it would be fun to spend a Christmas there.... "Feliz Navidad!" :)
"One more day, one more time, one more sunset, maybe I'd be satisfied?.... but then again, I know what it would do..... leave me wishin' still for one more day with you." - "One More Day" by Diamond Rio lyric sums it up best. You cherish the moments and ALWAYS wish there were more of them. Whether it's going home or over here --- thinking about the possibility of people leaving and... getting scared about "time left". You really feel your "mortality" when you come and go and see people come and go, so quickly.... so if you're here in Taipei now, please. linger a little longer.
hopefully I will blog, hike, update more in the next two weeks! Until then, Have a great week wherever you are.
NEXT ENTRY: Taking it WAY BACK. It's my 4 Year Anniversary in Asia. My first year in Asia: China: April 3rd, 2011.
RELEVANT WORDS TO KNOW FROM THIS ENTRY
MERRY CHRISTMAS! -- Shèngdàn kuàilè 聖誕快樂
HOLIDAY-- Jiérì 節日
COOKIES-- Bǐnggān 餅乾
SNOW -- Xuě 雪
CHURCH-- Jiàotáng 教堂
NEW YORK-- Niǔyuē 紐約
COFFEE-- Kāfēi 咖啡
AIRPLANE-- Fēijī 飛機