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Becoming American

Since I have started telling you English words that I simply have a hard time pronouncing, I thought I’d mention this:

What is up with the name DOUG?

I tried and tried and so far I don’t think I’ve managed to pronounce this name correctly. It sounds somewhere in the spectrum between “dog” and “da-g”. People are always going, “Huh? Dog? What?” Seriously? If I am talking about a person, WHAT OTHER NAME is there that sounds remotely like DOG other than DOUG?

One of the guys living in our street is named Doug. So far I have been referring to him as “so and so’s husband” and “so and so’s dad”. If I have to get his attention, well, I hope that day never comes because I really don’t want to be calling him “DOG!”

Yes, I am obsessed. It really bothers me that somehow I cannot master such a simple word. When I go to a social occasion, I actually consciously hope that nobody I meet there is named Doug. And keeping my fingers crossed, so far, nobody at work has this name. KNOCK ON WOOD! It would not look good if I constantly refer to a colleague as “Dog”. HR will come-a-calling soon.


You can get this shirt along with the others from, where else? Cafe Press, the purveyor of .... everything Doug


Next Up: Why I never order VANILLA ice cream or request MANILA folders…


Missing a hole here

September 24, 2010

in random

I woke up to a bad allergy attack this morning:

runny nose
itchy, watery eyes
itching of the nose or throat

p.s. I just copied that litany from the back of my bottle of Zyrtec.

I’ve got them all. As I was using up the last tissue from the giant Kleenex box, I was contemplating tweeting about it. (Yes, I do compose tweets in my head as I go about my daily business. Shut up! Don’t tell me you don’t. Liar!)

Something to the fact of:

Bad allergy! Every hole on my face has liquid coming out of it!

I slay myself sometimes.

This imaginary tweet reminded me of the common Chinese phrase for describing a brutal death (e.g. from poisoning or from a freakishly ginormous renegade Shaolin monk clapping his Thunderous Fists over your ears in a mortal combat) :

Bleeding from seven holes   七孔流血*

Here is an illustration:

This guy is dying from Psychic Powers.

PSA: Do NOT search for images with keywords “七孔流血” or worse, “nose bleed manga” at work.  It is like a codeword for “Show me pornographic images please”. Srly, people? The above is like the only image not involving a scantily-clad lass.

Since I am such a math geek (Har har) I automatically counted out the seven holes (and I swear I did not point my fingers to my body parts as I did this…)

My two eyes
My two ears.
My nose.
My mouth.

Hey, that’s only SIX. WTF? So I started thinking of other holes there could be…

Could it be that?
Or that?

Then it hit me. Of course! There are TWO nostrils. Duh.

As I opened up a new box of Kleenex, I thought to myself, “I am sucking more and more at being Chinese. And you people really have a bad influence on me!”

—The End—


* Google Translate is so awesome! I typed in “Bleeding from seven holes” and it presented the exact phrase! I *heart* you Google Translate even though you say dumb things sometimes…



Jack B referred to The Rocky Horror Picture Show in his comment, and all of a sudden I was transported back to when I first arrived in this country. I started remembering these bits and pieces of my times in the US when I was, for all intents and purposes, an FOB.

You may still remember my tale of landing in the middle of corn field where the Champaign-Urbana airport is located and wondering why everything looked different from the American films I had seen back home. I wanted New York! I knew the Midwest was going to be different. But CORN FIELD as far as my eyes could see? *sobs*

It was the summer of 1993 when temperature routinely reached over 90+ (at least as I recall). As I struggled to my dorm room with my two gigantic suit cases (in one of them I had packed a rice cooker, typical FOB international student behavior), my jaw dropped when the door opened to reveal a tiny, tiny closet masked as a “room” with NO air conditioner. Tears started stinging the corners of my eyes.

It was a nightmare. I had made a mistake.

The International House (or whatever the department that is in charge of the lucrative trade of luring international students who receive no financial aides and pay full price) paired the newly minted students up with volunteers who would introduce these foreigners to the American culture. They forgot, however, that most of the foreign students were GRADUATE students (so perhaps a bit on the geeky side? Definitely not walking on the wild side… ) and the volunteers were all young undergraduates. My “volunteer” showed up at the door of my dorm room and, picture this: Tina from Glee reminded me of her. Only that this girl standing in front of me was a bit more Goth (before I even knew what Goth was and that Goth existed).

We had an uneventful “getting to know you” session at a coffee shop. The conversation was halting at best. Remember: I landed in a strange country less than a week ago and I had no prior experience conversing chitchatting strictly in English. Before we ended our first session, she mumbled something about taking me to a movie. Sure. I am game! But why did she ask me to bring a water gun, toast, and to wear a rain jacket? I was certain I had heard her wrong.

At this point, the memory channel gets really fuzzy. All I remember now is confusion. Lots of it.  I remember there was a movie playing in this auditorium that was not particularly clean. I seem to remember that “Tina” was a bit annoyed I had showed up empty-handed. There were people on stage dressed in outlandish costumes. I distinctively remember a guy in revealing women’s lingerie (and yes, it did take me a while to realize that was a man in full makeup and a full wig…) and stuff being thrown at various moments throughout the movie.

Oh. That’s what the TOAST is for.

I was sprayed with water and saw toilet paper rolls fly through the air. I also remember having popcorn dumped on me but that could just be real popcorn for eating at a movie theatre and not part of the Ritual.

Now some guy (Was it the guy in drag? I can’t remember for sure) asked demanded,

Where are the virgins? Give us the virgins! Where are you? Stand up if you are a virgin! Get up here. NOW!

Again, utter confusion as I desperately leafed through the pages inside my head to locate the word “virgin” and its definition.


I was not. I thought.

Think again.

“Tina” pulled me up from my seat and physically delivered me to the stage… I was not a ham the way I am now. I was not at ease at all standing there, spelling out AWKWARD in blinking neon letters with my mere presence. I am pretty sure I was insulted (as demanded by the Ritual) but thank goodness for my lack of verbal English comprehension back then. The audience surely was laughing, slapping their thighs, cat calling.

I think I blanked out this part of my life: the rest of the evening after the man declared we were hereby deflowered and were no longer virgins and were allowed to get back to our seats. More screaming and foot stomping and cat calling. For something that should have been memorable to the extreme, curiously, I cannot remember what happened afterwards and NO alcohol nor medication was involved.

“Tina” and I never saw each other again after this. Heck, I don’t even remember her name. As a matter of fact, I did not remember this episode in my life, my indoctrination into crazy American Pop Cultures, until Jack’s comment. So thanks.

My only regret is that I wish I had a blog back then (since keeping a journal has always been out of the question for me – it’s just not for me). I would have recounted everything as soon as I got back to my sauna closet. Wait. Wait. I would have taken tons of pictures. Just imagine: The awesome blog fodder. The even more awesome tantalizing title for this post:

I Lost My Virginity at the Rocky Horror Picture Show.




Lost in Translation

August 2, 2010 through the looking glass

The comment by Justin from Here where I Have Landed on my earlier post Things I Missed echoed my experience and feeling: … when I tell people that I wasn’t born here, and that I came here to go to college, they’re consistently surprised, “What? But your English is so good!” like it’s completely unnatural […]


Things I Missed

July 27, 2010 therapy in session

I have been back to my real life since two Sundays ago.  After a week on the beach, doing nothing, having no appointments to make, no place to rush to, I find it hard to adjust back to life in the suburbia 100%. On the first few days after The Beach, I caught myself thinking […]


My Love Affair

July 5, 2010 this i believe

On July 4th, at around 5 pm, I loaded the boys into the car, against all best judgement, headed towards the community park where half the town had been and the rest of the town was heading towards.  We were determined to be there for the long haul. The final prize? The July 4th fireworks. […]


Happy Birthday, United States of America!

July 4, 2010 a picture is worth a thousand words

What better way to celebrate Independence Day by watching this clip from Independence Day again? WE WILL NOT GO QUITELY INTO THE NIGHT! WE WILL NOT VANISH WITHOUT A FIGHT! We are going to live on. We are going to survive. Today, we celebrate our Independence Day! . . . What better way than to […]


Becoming American

July 3, 2010 therapy in session

The Monster Birthday Month Bash continues… July 3rd. Happy Birthday to Franz Kafka, Dave Barry, and one Thomas Cruise Mapother IV aka Tom Cruise. Kafka is dead. Cruise will live forever. Dave Barry used to be funny. Tom Cruise is still scary. . . My oldest’s gymnastics practice is right by where the Hometown Fest […]


Reporting, live (kind of), from the Hometown Fest

July 2, 2010 a picture is worth a thousand words

July 2nd. The party goes on… Happy Birthday to Lindsay Lohan and Larry David. They should hang out together more. Happy birthday to Hermann Hesse. To this day I am sometimes still Emil Sinclair looking/waiting for my (inner) Max Demian. Thanks a lot, man. . . The following is my entry for this year’s Pulitzer […]