In between Twister, Temple Run, and Jenga With Sudden New Rules Made by Cheating Children, I noticed a Hal Leonard’s Guitar Method Book 1 and a kid's guitar sitting on the floor next to me.
I picked it up and played some songs - Greensleeves, Shenandoah, Red River Valley, etc. I thought I was doing pretty well, and mentally patted myself on the back.
“You’re horrible,” Italo said.
On the internet, Positano looks gorgeous and saturated with color.
When we showed up last month, it looked like this:
Haha! I still liked it, though.
Eventually, it looked more like this:
I'm not a photographer, so this view was way nicer in person.
And now, please enjoy this inviting chair that we found outside of our Airbnb.
I was on Facebook the other day (five years ago), and saw a comment on my cousin’s Facebook page.
Kai-Hsiang uses Chinese characters for his Facebook name, so every time Mom asks me to show her photos of Kai-Hsiang's kids, I go to my cousin Yi-Ta’s page (he uses his English name, Benny, in his profile), and look for Kai-Hsiang in the “Mutual Friends” section. Kai-Hsiang’s photo features him posing with the hideous-pink starfish guy from SpongeBob SquarePants, so he’s easy to find.
The comment on Kai-Hsiang’s page came from someone named Shampoo Hsu. I’ve always thought that Shampoo Hsu was an underused name, and I wanted this person as a friend, or alternatively, I wanted to rename myself Shampoo Hsu.
A year later, I noticed another comment from Shampoo Hsu, and clicked on his profile.
Shampoo Hsu is my cousin!!! As it turns out, Shampoo is the English name of Kai-Hsiang’s younger brother, Kai-Jin. Six-year-old Kai-Jin used to lock me in his family’s laundry room at 6 a.m. while everyone was sleeping and I was tooling around the apartment, jet-lagged, and mutter “You monkee,” “You doge” and “You peeg” through the glass door. How I miss those summer visits to Taipei.
Apparently, shampoo - “xifajing” in Mandarin - sounds similar to “Hsu Kai-Jin” (“Xi” is the same as “Hsu” as long as the tones and character match; it’s just a different Romanization). This was why Kai-Jin picked his name.
A scan of Shampoo Hsu’s Facebook page reveals more glorious bounty. Shampoo has collected friends named Liquefy Chang, Achilles Hsieh, Macro Chen, Conductor Wang, Mejust Chuang, Agroup Tsai and NewWay Hsiao.
In Taiwan, kids pick (or their teacher picks) their English name while in school. As far as I know, they can change their name later, but I hear they often stick to their first choice (I’ll ask Kai-Hsiang about this later, since I’m not sure). This is why you can befriend adults named Pizza, Glitter, Maximus, Policeman and iPhone in various parts of Asia.
from a Japanese decor magazine. Ah, so peaceful and calm.
Chupa and his friend Jonic spent the evening singing and jamming along to Daniel Caesar’s “Get You,” which requires a lot of falsetto and features the lyric, “everything I need's . . . between . . . those thighs.”
Chupa told me that he’d made reservations at a special place for my birthday, but I told him that I’d already picked out the venue. I wanted PASTA PASTA PASTA. Specifically, I wanted a $60 plate of Chitarra alla Norcina that turned out to cost $70 when we showed up at the restaurant.
In my defense, I’ve never demanded a pricey meal from anyone before, but I’ve been craving good pasta for twenty years.
Plus, TRUFFLES (a.k.a. 1/80th of a truffle)!
I wasn’t sure that I’d say this, but it was worth the $70 (granted, it wasn't my $70)(but I can speak for Chupa and say that it was worth HIS $70, plus tax & tip, so $92. Right? Even though he only got 2 noodles). Delicious!!!
For a half-assed dinner, I cooked buckwheat noodles to pair with spinach and broth. Chupa found the noodles in the sink and began eating them out of the colander.
“Mmmm,” he said.
“Do you like them?”
“Mmmm, warm rubber bands,” he replied.
“Want to play a game?” Mom would ask.
The game turned out to be us pinching and pulling the skin on the tops of our hands in a perpetual dog pile of claw hands. She’d pull/pinch the skin on the top of my right hand with her right hand. While she held the pinch, I put my left hand over her right hand to pinch her skin and hold it while she put her left hand over my left hand and pinched hard. I’d take my right hand from the bottom, and put it over her left hand to pinch, and so on. This game never lasted long, as Mom, smiling, would speed up the process until we ended with a big collapsed hand pile.
This game was not fun. It was painful. Mom pinched hard and enthusiastically. Maybe it was invented for bored Taiwanese schoolchildren trapped on public transit.
Chupa buys Bartlett pears that sit in the fridge until they rot.
Tom and Petra had a night nanny who held the twins tucked under her arms, like footballs.