Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Day Four: tourist day

After meeting with an international tax accountant, we found ourselves out and about in Tokyo so we decided to go to Asakusa, then take a boat down the Sumida River.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Day Three Tokyo

This morning as I was walking to my brother's house, I came upon the typical sight of plastic water bottles, full of water, placed along the street corner.  

Japanese people do this because they think it will keep stray cats away, keep them from peeing in that area.  I've never read any evidence about this actually working as a deterrent but people do it anyway.  One of those strange things about the Japanese -- among many.

I also came across a small patch of preserved green space in between several large apartment complexes.

 The little shrine was in the center of the green space.

Here is the view from the hospital ward.

In the evening I met up with Mari at my favorite restaurant, Nakamuraya.  It was actually in a temporary space next door as they were reconstructing their old entire building.  They said it was going to take 4 years to complete.  Here's my favorite dish, the Napolitano.  It is not really Italian, kind of Chinese.  A tomato/pork/clam broth with flat and curly egg noodles.  YUMMERS!

Mari is actually preggers (4 - 5 onths) and after dinner she still wanted dessert so we went to this crazy fruit palace and had parfaits...

Dessert cost as much, maybe more, than our meals!  But it was worth it!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Day Two: Brother

It was a busy day, first running errands, then going back to the hospital, then out to lunch and an onsen.

Here's the bicycle shop:

Here is the ramen spot.  yummy!

the actual ramen:

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Tokyo Trip Day One

Sorry I've neglected this blog for so long.  I had a baby, and then there was travel, but always too harried to document.
I'm in Tokyo now, staying with my friend Shirotama.  Below are Shirotama's 21 year old cat Mapu, and the amazing uni dinner we had...  yum!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

And our second wedding....

Trip to California for an Ogawa family reunion and second wedding. fyi I'm 7 months pregnant in these pix!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Moon of Honey

We got back from St. Martin. Not much to say except it was amazing and beautiful and we definitely want to go back! the pictures speak for themselves....

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Off to St. Martin

Oh hello.
By the way, I got married a few weeks ago.
I'm going on my honeymoon to St. Martin tomorrow. Boy am I looking forward to nothing but beachiness.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Mah Jongg Christmas!

This morning we gave everybody their gifts: We'd gotten Milo this awesome Paul Frank hoodie with dinosaur scales up the center of the hood; a digital photo display for the parents; a Muji document holder for Karin; and a book for Melvin.

Then we played tennis. It was a really beautiful day, so warm and sunny!

Last night we'd dug up an old set of mah-jongg tiles and looked up the rules on the internet. Tonight we played three rounds. So fun!
It's actually a lot like the game Beanie, which I've been obsessed with for years...

I can't believe Irwin won the last game!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas in Nashville

I'm spending Christmas holiday with the Taiwanese atheists in Nashville, Tennessee, the Chen family!
Because we are combining this trip with our trip to Monterey, our flight to Nashville was broken into two legs.
The weather here is pretty unseasonably warm but grey and rainy.

This morning we went shopping for paella ingredients with Irwin's parents Fu-Ming and Katherine and Milo, Irwin's almost 2-year-old nephew, who is, hands-down, the star of the family. He is so articulate and lucid! He is the best.

We decided that this would be a good time for Milo to get a haircut.

End result:

Monday, October 20, 2008

Why is smoking healthy in Europe?

Sure, the cigarette packs still say stuff like "SMOKING KILLS" (in the native language of course) but that doesn't stop men, women, boys and girls, grandmas and grandpas from smoking everywhere and anywhere! It kind of reminded me of Japan in the 1980s where people smoked everywhere, in restaurants, departments stores, train stations, etc. (Now, you can hardly smoke anywhere in Japan except in little designated boxes). In the guidebook I had on Spain, it said that they had finally passed a law that made it illegal to smoke in restaurants -- but I did not see this law enforced anywhere I ate.

There is something amazing about the different mentality of how to enjoy life in Spain, though. The nation-wide (mandatory) siesta from 2pm - 5pm. Wine with lunch, party til 2am. Play is as important as work -- whereas in NY it feels as though play IS work. I feel like the smoking thing is part of it. Smoking in NY, it's like you are an evil anti-social person who is going to die imminently of horrible cancer, versus smoking in Spain, you are a lover of life and enjoy yourself like anybody else. Irwin thinks it's the difference between the guilt-ridden puritanical thinking of Protestants and the Catholics (whose guilt is absolved on a regular basis?).

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Asian in Europe

I saw Vicky Christina Barcelona with Irwin last week, after we returned from Spain. Asides from what I thought about the film on an artistic level, what struck me was (and as in most Woody Allen films) was that all of these characters were like super white and super wealthy.
Ok but that's not my point. The movie presented certain ideas/ideals/ideologies that we as Americans tend to associate with Europe --- that they are way more progressive in their thinking, and stuff. Which might be true -- in a lot of ways does seem true, on the surface at least. But one thing I kept thinking about in Spain was "WOW am I like the only Asian person here, or what?" OK there was a small Filipino community there. But besides them, the only other Asians I ever saw were these Chinese people who would appear on street corners after midnight to sell soda, beer, bottled water, and sometimes even sandwiches from cardboard or plastic boxes. It was so weird. Where were these people during the day time? And how did this thing start, where they would stand on street corners selling sandwiches to clubbers and other late-night partyers?

Another phenomenon -- though I only saw a handful of serious Asian food restaurants, there were, in both Madrid and Barcelona, these fast-food-type franchises that had the word "wok" in their name. Like Take a Wok, Wok and Walk, Wok and Roll. I guess they were marketed as quick and healthy stir-fry joints.
I just thought this was kind of weird too.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

don't get me wrong...

Despite my most recent cryptic blog post titles, I had an amazing time in Spain, truly. It was intense, challenging, life-changing, heart and mind-opening. My patience and resourcefulness were tested. I got to spend time and fall in love with a remarkable group of young artists. I got to spend every waking (and possibly sleeping) moment for 2 full weeks, entirely absorbed in making a work of theater (no even my own shows got that kind of attention). And the food, when I was able to eat, was delicious. There's a lot of stuff to process, for sure, and I'd like to keep track of these thoughts here.

I miss the sense of time and days in Spain, and the way the each meal framed a segment of time. The cafe con leche and pastry in the morning, the lunch at 2pm followed by siesta til 5pm, dinner never beginning before 9pm. Most days, from our hostal downtown, we could hear people carousing in the streets til easily 4am. A culture that takes what Americans consider "leisure" (time to eat, time to nap, time to drink wine and party) just as seriously as it takes WORK. Context, context, context.

Today's bonus pic:
Irwin and I stumbled upon this beautifully lit building in Barcelona on our first night there. I think it's like city hall or something?

p.s. my camera died the day before we came back to NY, so there are two whole days in Barcelona that went undocumented by me...

Monday, September 29, 2008

whirlwind end to Madrid

I'm sorry I hadn't felt much like blogging during the final days in Madrid, partially because I was just so damned busy and exhausted everyday (or too busy playing cards) and also because Irwin came out here and he is, to my knowledge, the only person who was consistently checking my blog in the first place. I will try to back track a bit -- but also at this point I have no idea what day it is, or how much time has passed.

Gearing up towards tech in the theater was a kind of nightmare. The theater was understaffed and limited, and also with the huge misunderstanding about what was going to happen there in the first place, and not having the cooperation of the Artistic Director of the theater, everything kind of came to a screeching halt.

Dealing with projections was a fucking nightmare. I have truly learned my lesson here. I am not a technician, I am not specializing in video or computers or anything at all, but somehow I became responsible for the video images in our piece, which meant that I had to give a shit about the way things were set up. The placement of the projector could never be solidified/set, which meant that EVERY SINGLE DAY the projector had to be tested and re-set, and images re-adjusted for that day's set-up. Never never never again. Here is Valerie, dealing with the same thing,
In the evening after a long long tech day during which not much occurred, we had to attend the opening ceremony of the World Congress. The venue of the congress had to be changed at the last minute (?) or at least I had not been aware of this change since 3 weeks ago, so by the time we located it, the speeches had already begun inside. Outside there were these awesome stilted puppets, representing historical figures from Spanish history.
There was a reception with booze and apps afterwards, but by the time we got out of there, all the restaurants were closed (plus it was Monday, so most places were closed anyway) and I had to go to bed without dinner that night. This was not the first or only night this happened.

The next day (Tuesday) we had another tech day. These tech days I can't remember what we did except wait around. I think there may have been some attempt at running, but actually I don't think so. Emilya had scored us all tickets to the hottest show in town, so we all tried to get out shit together to go. Juan and Esther look at the map and discuss the closest route to the theater as Kevin looks on, disconcerted.
This was the show we saw -- by a pretty famous theater company, known for their spectacle. This particular piece was about (and in fact emulated) the 2002 Chechen takeover of a Russian theater. Drawing parallels to Russian history and contemporary acts of terrorism -- it would have been an interesting piece if the surtitles weren't so difficult to read, and if there were a further point to be made in the script, besides the comparison and attempt at humanizing the terrorists.

These last few days I found great relief in card-playing with the b-boys. I guess it started when I was getting a picture file from Liam in his room when he pulled out a deck of cards, and then it was over. We played many games, but in particular one called Pest (a lot like UNO) and another unnamed game which requires a lot of gesturing and speed. Good times. Every night Abdel would stumble home around 2am with stinky feet and join the game at hand.
On opening night, we were called for a run at 6pm. During the day I went shopping with Liam -- or more like I helped Liam shop for a suit, which he purchased at ZARA.

Backstage before opening night. his was after I'd had another crying fit in the courtyard over the insanity of it all, and just pure exhaustion.
The boys' dressing room.
And after the show:
We went out for drinks, and that was very nice, but again we ran into the problem that all the restaurants closed before we could get a proper meal. So much to my dismay, I ended up having to eat this nasty sandwich we got out of the vending machine at the youth hostal. Supposed to be salami and cheese or something??
The next day (Thursday) was our day off -- and Irwin arived in Madrid. After moving into another hostal in a different part of town, we met up with some folks for some "site-seeing".

Liam in the Metro.

The boys in front of the Palace.
Liam in air.
Juan dry-humping an ice cream cone.
After the boys spent a good couple of hours taking photos of themselves doing all sorts of tricks in front of monuments, they were thirsty. So we stopped at this tourist trap of a cafe where a Coca Cola was 3.50 Euro ($5US???).
Later this afternoon we went to the Reina Sofia and saw some Dali and Guernica, but by this point Irwin's jetlag was geting to him. We took a nap and then later went to an awesome Basque tapas place. (Pics of this on Irwin's picasa page).

The next day, before the show, we met up with Juan and Esther and kevin for lunch. But before that, we stopped at this bakery for coffee, and I noticed how small the holes in the Spanish bagels were!!!!! wtf?!
Our call was 6pm (for a 9pm show?!) so Irwin came with me to the theater and then sat across the street with his beer.

Backstage, Vita on headset calling the cues...
After the show, there was general chaos in getting everything out of the theater, showing up at the reception sponsored by the Croatian Embassy. All of us were staying another full day for the post-mortem, except Juan who was leaving the next morning. So after playing a round of cards,
We went out until he had to catch a taxi to the airport at 4.30AM. We tried to find a club to go dancing, but everything was gross or had a cover, or overcrowded or whatever, so we just wandered around and went into a Dominican restaurant that had 1E beers.
Esther & Juan hugging goodbye.

I was also so sad to see Juan go -- he had been my buddy during this whole trip. It's hard to believe that i won't be able to just walk downstairs and knock on his door, have lunch with him, or drag him across the floor in a big piece of fabric.

Saturday morning Irwin and I had churros dipped in chocolate for breakfast. Sickness.
I went over to give Robert a massage, and then we headed to our last supper at Extramadura -- the same place where we had our first dinner together. Andres & Gunther.
In the evening, we caught a part of the closing ceremony of the Congress. Sylvia and Esther.
Paloma & Sai.
This was to be our last night all together! Paloma, Esther, Kevin, Irwin and I went all the way to the youth hostal to pick up the boys, who we knew would need some persuasion to come out with us. Paloma in the elevator.
When we got to the youth hostal, they were like, no we're not going out. I couldn't believe it. I took a picture of them sitting on their beds, thinking that this was how I was going to remember them.
Robert was watching The Simpsons.
But somehow, miraculously, we got them to come out with us -- and the bar was kinda far away too, we had to take the subway! But they came. yeay!

At a bar near Reina Sofia, we had a last round of drinks. I said goodbye to Valerie.Group photo.
Half of us went to go dancing, but I was beat. I bid Robert and Liam farewell at El Brillante.
Irwin and I got our midnight snack here -- their famous calamari sandwich. It could have used a bucketload of tartar sauce. I was like "tiene salsa de tartar?" but they did not understand.
The next morning after 3 hours of sleep we got up to take the high-speed train to Barcelona. I was so fucking bleary-eyed and sad and delirious...
Some pics of Barcelona at night:
Amazing Celta Bar pulpo:
Irwin trying to cure his hiccups.

I have Rihana's song "Umbrella" stuck in my head, and it won't go away.
It will take a while for me to make sense of all that happened to me in the last 2 weeks. Only two weeks?!?! Unbelievable. It felt like a year, honestly. It's amazing how much can happen in such a short period of time...