Monthly Archives: August 2010

Chinese Restaurant

You could say that growing up my family was obsessed with Chinese Food. Not any run of the mill Chinese would do. We had a thirst for the “authentic”. I feel confident that a good portion of my childhood was spent driving in a car looking for a parking space in Chinatown. It was all because my Dad had discovered a restaurant called Sam Wo’s on Mott Street when he was in college. We all loved that place. My brother and I would ask to go there whenever we were in the city or within a 20 mile radius. My Dad dragged us to a lot of college basketball games at the LIU Brooklyn campus. I would always go hoping we’d get him to stop at Sam Wo’s before we went home. A trip to LIU could also mean a visit to Juniors across the street but it was a chance you had to take. Our devotion to Sam Wo’s achieved the ultimate validation when Woody Allen included a reference to “the crabs at Sam Wo’s” in a list of “Things That Make Life Worth Living” in his movie Manhattan.

I saved a couple of things from my weekend recycling binge. One was a notebook that had this in it:

Chinese Restaurant Dream

I’m in a large Chinese restaurant with my parents
We walk through endless red rooms
There are pagoda lanterns with beads hanging down
Like women’s hair
As we pass the kitchen, I can see cooks chopping
Food that smells bad
Plates of Sweet and Sour Shrimp and Chop Suey go by on large trays
I’m trying to get my father’s attention,
“Hey Daddy, this doesn’t look like a good place.”
“You sure you want to eat here?”
We arrive at the table.
A curly haired woman at the next table
Is making a big show
Acting dumb because her menu is in tatters
The red vinyl falling like flags
My father leans closely into her
Starts talking to her
Solicitously and offers to fix her menu for her
He gets a stapler from the man behind the counter
And starts to fix it up
Trying to impress the foolish woman
I hug my mother
Try to shield her from his behavior
I shout at him
“You can’t treat my mother like this”
“You can’t do this in front of her”
I hug my mother
I wake up
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First Memory by Louise Gluck

I copied this poem on the inside cover of a notebook sometime in the 90’s. It just makes me say “wow”.

First Memory

Long ago I was wounded
I lived
to revenge myself
against my Father, not
for what he was –
for what I was: from the beginning of time,
In childhood, I thought
that pain meant
I was not loved
It meant I loved.

– Louise Gluck



In the BinI went on a little cleaning spree on Sunday. I decided to recycle my 20+ years of journals rather than keep holding onto them. I used to be a very regular journal writer and kept one from before Middle School well into my 30’s. Other than noticing the changes in my handwriting over those years I really didn’t feel compelled to sit down and read any of it before I tossed it out. Skimming the pages as I tore them from the bindings I saw lots of names with their accompanying disappointments and heartbreaks. It wasn’t all sad stuff but It felt good to let it all go into the bin. If you had told 8th grade me how easy it would be for 44 year old me to throw it all out I never would have believed you.

My Daughter and the DS

My daughter really wants a DS. She’s been lobbying for one for a while now. There was a period before Christmas last year when she’d try to use DS in all her spelling word practice sentences just so we’d get the hint, i.e., The DS swept the floor. We didn’t give in. Mr. Awesome felt strongly that it was just another piece of electronic junk that would be forgotten soon enough. I didn’t want to have another bit of media in her life that I had to manage her access to. I know that they are very addictive for young kids and we didn’t want to get one for her. We have a Wii and she can play games on the computer too. I don’t think we were being unreasonable about it. Frankly, the craze around them has died down a little bit and she hadn’t really been asking about them that much lately. Well, until yesterday that is.

Her friend called yesterday and asked if Piper could come over and play. It was going to be a very short time since the friend had to go to sports practice. I dropped her off and came home and tried to work out (YIKES! It’s been a looong time. I thought I was going to pass out!) for an hour before I went back. When Piper comes out of the house I see that she is holding a DS and several games. I see it and want to make sure with the friend and the Mom standing there that it is OK that Piper borrows the game until next time. Oh no, they all tell me, they are giving Piper the DS because her friend has a new one and never plays this one anymore. The wheels start turning in my brain, what am I supposed to say?? I don’t even want to bring the thing inside the car let alone my house, isn’t it like the Devil, you’re sunk if you invite him in? I didn’t want to make a scene but maybe I should have? How much do kids these days have to have? This girl was giving away something that costs at least $100 in the store and only because she had another, newer $100+ version of the thing and no one was batting an eye. I let Piper play with it a little last night but told her that I’d have to talk to her Dad about it when he got home and I was sure that he wasn’t going to like it. I was right about that. He was extremely unhappy about the whole thing. I’m not sure what he thinks that I should have done in those moments at the door. Tell the Mom, sorry but we think that the toy you just gave my child is poison so thanks but no thanks? I’m not socially adept enough to get through these moments. Piper’s friend is not in her class this year but her parents own a local business that I enjoy and go into constantly. I didn’t want to have a big scene. This might all be moot soon. Her friend didn’t give us the power cord for the game so once it runs out of power it won’t work anymore. Mr. Awesome wants to give it back because he’s adamant that she not have it. I’m kind of on the fence. I let her play it a little bit last night and frankly she didn’t seem that into it. She played a game that we have the Wii version of and she actually seemed kind of bored. I already told her that she would have to pay for new games with her own money if we kept it. We could give it back when she sees her friend back at school in a couple of weeks. I’m sure that battery will be gone by then anyway. Boy, she was only over there for an hour. I can’t imagine what she would have come home with if she had been there for longer. I had no idea there would be an exchange of electronic devices, jeez! What do you think Internets? Do we give it back? I await your advice!

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Lola’s Dream

My mother often tells me the dreams she has about my brother. This is her latest:

My parents are sitting on the beach and looking at the water. They can see Mike in the water and he’s swimming towards shore. There are a large group of people nearby who also see Mike swimming. It seems like the group of people are going to start to cheer for Mike and encourage him. My mother decides that if they start cheering she will too. But they don’t so she doesn’t either. Finally Mike reaches the shore, gets out of the water and walks right by my parents like he doesn’t know them. She woke up.

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This is my 201st post. On TV they always make a big deal when a show reaches its 100th episode. I feel like I should have a big party with a sheet cake and a bouncy house. We’ll all just have to use our imaginations. It is mid-summer yet it feels like fall will be here before we know it. Camp ends in a couple of weeks and then it will be back to the old grind. The old grind is pretty much the same as the current grind, just with homework. I guess this post will just be a list of all the things that I’ve been thinking about lately.

We’ve been enjoying the Summer Reading Program at our local Library. Piper’s been reading constantly in the hopes of earning prizes. She hasn’t read as many books this year as she’s done in the past but more than half of them were 100 pages or more. She reads a lot anyway but this summer she’s been making a special effort. We even discovered some new books in our quest to find some new stuff to read. We started reading The Secrets of Droon series and the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. The Droon books are a bit of a Harry Potter/Magic Treehouse rip off but we’ve really been enjoying them. The Diary of a Wimpy Kid books are really funny. They remind me of an older, male Junie B. Jones. She  enjoys reading them to us which I love.

I was doing a lot of reading this summer too and it’s been great. I’ve read:

Open by Andre Agassi
Somewhere Inside by Laura and Lisa Ling
Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs
The Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick
The Indifferent Stars Above by Daniel James Brown

Out of all of them I’d have to say that The Heart of the Sea was my favorite. It is about the Nantucket Whaleship Essex that was rammed and sunk by a whale in the middle of Pacific Ocean and was Melville’s inspiration for Moby Dick.  The crew escaped in three small whaleboats and traveled thousands of miles before they were finally rescued. Alas, now my reading has taken a back seat because I’ve started making things again.

My newest obsession!

I saw a pattern for these animals that I thought were cute. I’ve changed up the original pattern and I’m loving how they look. They are knitted and I’m enjoying knitting again. It has a much cleaner flatter finish than crochet.  Of course now I can’t stop myself from jumping into full production mode. I’m on my fourth one already. Piper asked if I could make one for each of her counselors at camp. We’ll see how far I get. I’m not sure if these will end up on etsy or not. We think the one on the right looks like Nigel our dear kitty. The one on the left is going to be a bunny. What do you think?

I heard this story on the radio the other day and it really made me angry. In a nutshell some psychiatrists have decided to remove the “bereavement exclusion” from their definition of major depression. They now seem to be saying that if you experience depression as a result of grief over the loss of a loved one and this depression lasts for more than two weeks it passes into clinical depression which is considered a disorder and should be “treated”. Why can’t you be sad over the loss of a loved one? If you can’t grieve mightily over the loss of your child what are you allowed to be really sad about? I think that the grief process helps the griever to process the loss. Depression is normal in these situations. Why do they want to make it go away?

Have I mentioned to you dear Internets that I loathe flip-flops. Am I alone in this? I feel like I am. They are not shoes yet people treat them like they are. I have a pair but I try to only use them in the house. Personally, I don’t like looking at my toes and flip-flops are all about the toes. Maybe I should loosen up a bit . . . nah, I hate the damn things and I’m not afraid to say it.