Guest Closet

April 18, 2017

Guest Closet

On Sunday (Mom’s only day off), I tried to cajole Mom into organizing the guest bedroom closet, which houses her collection of cheapo pastel cotton clothing that she buys from one of Dad's medical patients out of their home store/garage.  You can’t walk into the closet without getting irritated by the plastic bags housing giant, billowy comforters that take up most of the floor and tangle with your feet like leeches.

Mom grumbled about not wanting to clean, but followed me into the guest room anyway.

In addition to the usual jumble, there were several other bags crowding the floor.  Mom brings five bags to and from work, and tosses them in random places when she gets home.

I watched as she rummaged through everything, unearthing Tupperware, smashed newspaper clippings, various-SPF tinted moisturizer tubes, Sudoku fun time, crumb-filled magazines, piles of scratch paper cut into random sizes, bobby pins, medical billing papers, crunchy Japanese broad beans, hairbrushes, and library books featuring knitting tutorials, British writers and Taiwanese schoolteachers.

She paused when she reached a mysterious plastic bag.

“What’s this?  Oh!”

It was salami and a jolly trio of Trader Joe's cheeses.

“How long has this been here?” I asked.

She couldn’t remember.  “Four days?” she mused.  She opened the salami and commenced a smörgåsbord. 




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playing guitar
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July 20, 2018

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.

Positano
Positano

May 22, 2018

On the internet, Positano looks gorgeous and saturated with color. 

When we showed up last month, it looked like this:  


Positano mountain fog

Haha!  I still liked it, though.

Eventually, it looked more like this:

Positano cloudy day

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.


Positano red chair

Names
Names

April 07, 2018

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.