Crazy time 5000, Christian patience, advisors, and pork

In Uncategorized on August 26, 2009 at 3:48 am

August 22-23: Went to Chinatown at 6 pm to meet up a small group of dragon boating people for dinner.  Drove there, learned about Philly’s own version of secret parking on Na**ma in SF (although I had to pay since the secret parking lot was full…but haggled the dude down from $7 to $5).  Started walking into C-town when it started to frickin’ pour…ran back to the car, got my umbrella, then ran into store to buy mochi for grad school people…and a bakery for some yuan yang (half milk tea, half ice coffee…like a Hong Kongese Arnold Palmer: Ahno Pahmah).  We had dinner at a Lanzhou La Mein place.  Translation: a city in north kinda-western China that specializes in noodles.  Conversation was good but watching the dude pull the noodles…that was cool.  Everytime he would fold the strands, he’d slap them on the marble counter and it always sounded (to me) like he was slapping a waitresses butt.  Weird.

Afterwards, we met a larger group at Yakitori Boy, an Asian style karaoke bar.  We had some superstars and I met cool new people.  Without busting out everyone’s business, the only white dude thereome  made a pretty f-ed slur against, well, every asian in the room (especially the dudes) and new friend, LW, and I contemplated kickin’ some ass.  Then I realized that for many reasons that would be foolish, above all that this dude didn’t have exposure to anything besides what he was used to: white and bread.  But besides that, karaoke was hella fun.

After much singing and merriment, costing me a total of $10 because I don’t drink (word), we went to Old City to go to a highly recommended club.  Got there…closed.  Went to another one.  Shut down because the sprinkler system was broken (although the guy gave us discount coupons for next Saturday with promises of strippers or playboy bunnies or playboy bunnies who stripped, whatever).  I thought karma had it in for us but we actually found a small and pretty much empty place called Mint.  Pro: no cover.  Pro: no one on dance floor means more room for me.  Pro: music ok.  Con: nothing, really.  We danced, pranced, I avoided awkward situations, we danced some more.  At 2:30, I arrived at home, took a shower, couldn’t sleep for some stupid reason, and finally went to bed at like 6:30.

August 23:  At 8:30 am, after two refreshing hours of sleep, I get up and get dressed for church.  To get there I take the Septa underground which closest station is like a 5 minute walk from my place.  Amazing.  I zip on over and the train is full of pretty much other church going folk…judging by the dress and look of tiredness on their faces. I get off at the City Hall stop and wander around until I find Arch street.  Right on the corner is this beautiful stone building with impeccable architecture and stained glass windows oddly without any Jesi and Marys.  And the front door is fenced off.  Oh wait, it was the Masonic Temple.  So the building across the street and down a few is it: Arch Street United Methodist Church.  Still pretty.  I walk in about 15 minutes before service and realize this church is OLD; if it shook what it’s mama gave it, the roof would crash and we’d have another Lisbon.  Crap, I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t have typed that.  Ah well.

The sanctuary itself is about half the size of FUMC, my old beloved church, and there’s lots of red velvet.  Pro: seats are more comfortable with red velvet cushions.  Con: Arch Street is starting to use The Faith We Sing.  At 5 minutes til 11, there are about 40 people and I keep on thinking that it’s really empty.  When service starts, a few more people show up and the final count is around 70.  The group is pretty diverse in most obvious ways and the service starts.  The guest organist starts and I immediately miss SW.  The opening hymn: we stand and people timidly sing.  The little boy in front of me giggles and I stick my tongue out at him.  He giggles some more.  I don’t think Arch Street has a choir but the soprano soloist does quite nicely.  The passing of the peace is right after the first hymn!  Yeah!  Oh wait, it’s lasting like 3 minutes…ah crap, here comes the pastor!  I try to look friendly.  A guy stumbles in and sits right behind me; I’m pretty sure he’s drunk.  The pastor, in his greeting, talks about how they had a packed house for the memorial service of a homeless guy killed by the police across the street at the shelter.  Ah…

And then the guy starts to snore.  Like real loud.  Everyone turns around and stares at me because his head is kinda underneath the pew so I look extra engaged.  Finally I turn around and tap the guy on the hand…he wakes up, looks at me with blood shot eyes, and immediately goes to sleep.  I slink away a few pews up because really, the dude is a french horn.  A few minutes later, an usher goes up to him and really wakes him up in pretty much the kindest way possible.  The rest of the service goes quite smoothly, unlike this narration.  The only other eventful thing was the pastor who, after the benediction, cuts off the congregation at the door.  Pretty much in order to leave, we have to talk with him.  I say to the woman next to me that this is a great idea and she smiles politely.  The pastor and I exchange a few words and he assures me that the young people will come.  So next week, I’m going to try out another church closer to my place, just for comparison.

August 24: I go in to meet up with my advisor and we grab lunch…she really is a wonderfully nurturing person.  We talk about what I want to research and I think I come off as completely vague and misguided…yeah!  But still, I’m very glad to have her and reassure her that she should keep on piling on the work until I say stop.  I think these few weeks of quiet have made me near insane and I want work!!


Dragon boating and mice

In Uncategorized on August 22, 2009 at 5:55 pm

August 19: Invited by VC Tuesday to go Dragon Boating.  It immediately reminded me of going to the art show my third day in the Bay Area but cooler.  I also felt uber Chinesey (although the vast majority of rowers were white).  The crowd was otherwise diverse although half worked for the same pharm-company and most were in their 40s.  Despite my terrible form and splashing of people around me, it was fun and a fantastic workout.  My lower right back and ass burned a bit the day of but were okay enough that I still gymed it up the next day.

Wow, I just re-read that first paragraph and realized it was boring as hell.  This is what happens when you medicate your ass to sleep after a mouse incident.  More on that later.

After being on the water for an hour, we went to get dinner at a diner.  I met another teacher and it pretty much dominated conversation for an hour…what a surprise!  The woman sitting next to me had a daughter who was contemplating being a teacher; the conversation was just a glimpse into the horror.  At least we were passionate (if not obnoxious…ok, no “we” in the last part).

August 20: My driver’s side window wouldn’t roll up the night before so after duct taping the window in the crappiest way I knew how (it matched the rest of my car well…damn, why didn’t I take a picture), I went to bed feeling better.  Until it started to rain.  But really, duct tape is amazing and in 7 years, if ES is taken, I just may have to marry the tape.  Kinky.

In the AM, I brought my car into a shop that didn’t have any staff but a nice painter guy who said the motor should cost $50.  After being charged twice that amount at another place plus labor (although they forgot to add the rivets they used on it), my car worked!  The shop was owned and operated by Chinese folk so I felt a little bit better about being ripped off…although they had a steady stream of customers who claimed they were expensive but honest about it and good.  I had a great conversation with Ms. Townson, an art teacher at a local K-8 public school.  The conversation started with us making the analogy of a auto shop and dentist office; you enter with a feeling of dread and leave in pain.  When she said that she’d been here for years but cursed her teacher’s salary, I knew we would be friends.  I have a standing invitation to visit her at school which I may just have to take her up on.

August 21: So on old recommendation from JG, I continued my SATC saga.  Dear god…the series is addictive.  Like watch 8 episodes back-to-back and skip lunch and almost dinner addictive.  I will save my dignity by saving my comments.  In the afternoon, I walked into Penn to meet with an IT person.  Because I’m an idiot, I got the building number wrong and ended up at one that was closed for rennovations.  Balls.  I got to walk around the University City area a bit and saw a bunch of fresh-faced undergrads and frat guys.  As expected, Penn is very preppy.  Picture me with my lowrider headphones.  But luckily I prolly won’t have to interact too much with the kiddos.

On the way back, I picked up some garam masala and veggies and made a chick-pea veggie masala dish, naan, collard greens, and fruit compote.  Because my timing was awesome, the greens and compote weren’t done until an hour after I finished eating, but made a good second dinner :).  SL, I know, I put us to shame.

Afterwards, as if SATC wasn’t enough, I put on Bride Wars.  What was I thinking.  Dignity, gone.  It was an awful movie.  Although seeing Anne Hathaway doin’ a ho-dance was amusing.

The most excitement I had at night was when I finally went to bed – sleep cycle is shot – and woke up at 4 am to the sound of something squeaking and a weird tapping noise.  Apparently the previous tenant put a glue trap underneath a radiator and it trapped a cute little mouse.  Surprisingly, I wasn’t freaked out at all by the mouse but spent the better part of an hour sanitizing the area, my entire bedroom, and patching up the hole in my wall (the building is 150 years old, so I can forgive it a bit).  Then I popped tylenol PM and although it helped me sleep, it also zapped away my humor.

Hopefully I’ll be good by 2nite: dinner in Chinatown, karaoke, then clubbing.  Can u believe it?  I swear I’m never this social.

In West Philadelphia…

In Uncategorized on August 19, 2009 at 4:34 pm

So I’m sitting around pretty much doin’ nothing so why not blog?

Summer 2009: Instead of kickin’ it, I was cajoled by TJ and LD to teach at Upward Bound.  At the KBA end of the year staff party, someone summed it up pretty well: “Cherng, you know you’re gonna do it, so stop bitching.”  Done.  All in all, a great experience and a solid way of ending my immediate teaching career.  It allowed me to consider the “what ifs” with my former 8th graders; the UB kids were products of public education and were pretty math smart.  So why did they fail algebra 2?  Sadly rhetorical in this system.

But the kids were awesome.  But definitely not surprise there.

The UB kids <-- HIlarious

The UB kids <-- HIlarious

July 25: Made the move back to Maryland.  Spent the week craigslisting like mad for a decent place in Philly.  Got plumper, hung out with the parents, and played with lonely ferret.  Also made a trip up to Boston to hang with AM and other friends.  Got to connect with an old student…that was dope.

August 1: Made my first trip to Philly with dad to look at apartments.  We scoped out 6 places.  Note to self: you do not need to budget 1 hour for every viewing…more like 15 minutes.  Most places were decent enough but I really like the one with the open kitchen.  Luckily I’m typing this blog from said apartment.  The neighborhood is interesting: lots of African American (I use the term because it’s a good discriptor, not because it’s “politically correct”) and white, but also a large Muslim African/Eastern African community.  Which means I’ll be happily eating Ethiopian these next few years!

August 8: Spent the previous week CLing it for all sorts of furniture.  I drove up in the morning and scoped out the furniture…my brother drove up from Baltimore after diving and we hung out with his friends at Morimoto.  A bit sad / humbling / amazing / privileged that my first meal in Philly will likely be one of the best.  The only downside was the parking ticket.  And I say this with as much respect I can muster for police authority: FUCK YOU Philly Transit Authority.  But best not to dwell…and I’m sure Drake meant meter officers too.

August 9: Rented a Uhaul and picked up all the furniture in my place, minus the coffee table/chest.  Really, I still can’t believe my brother and I survived the day.  If I had a first born, I’d offer it up to my bro for helping me.  He can have my second born too.  But sweet, sweet Jesus, the day killed us.  The more memorable moments were kickin’ it on our stoop eating super cheap ass Chinese food from the corner and waking up my brother at 2 am so he could drive back to Maryland to catch an early morning flight.  And finally being able to sleep on a bed.

Really, this desk to is too cool for me.

Really, this desk to is too cool for me.

And wait, how could I forget, the corner Chinese food store.  When I went there to buy stuff for lunch, there were 3 late-teenagers kickin’ it and buying snacks.  At one point, one of the guys says to the owner’s wife, who just walked into the kitchen, “Hey Betty, where my wings?!”  She immediately snaps back, “You wait, mothafucka!  I just woke up!  Shit!”.  It was straight out of Rush Hour.  For contrast, this is the same woman who later in the evening was excited that I was in the area and could tutor her son in math.

August 10 – 17: Went back to Maryland for the week to help out mom with her dental practice…her front desk admin was in Alaska for the week.  My responsibilities were pretty much to answer the phone, prep people’s files when they came in, schedule appointments, and in general be pleasant.  All in Chinese.  Now that’s a new skill I’ve mastered…need to put it on my resume under “sKiLlz”.  Oh, also went to cousins’ place for a BBQ.  Good times…especially when we played poker and I remembered random probabilities but not what a button was.

August 17-19: Drove back to Philly to well, live my life here.  I have grand plans of exploring all sorts of places in Philly…but I wonder if the 95F heat will deter my AC-lovin’ ass.  So far I’ve ventured as far as 2 blocks from my place…but hey, lotsa stories!  On Tuesday, I signed up for the gym that’s 3 doors down from my place: it’s huge but not well AC-ed.  The sign that says “If something is broke, we know.  And yes, it’s hot, we know.  It’s good to sweat.” makes it a little bit better.  Afterwards, I nursed a sweating cup of ice coffee at the cafe one door away from my place for a good 2 hours while freely typing away.  I had intentions of reviewing stats.  Again, intentions.  Then I actually went to the gym, ran, and on my way back home (all 30 feet), I stopped by the small Chinese shop 2 doors down from my place.  Spent an hour in there chatting with the owner (Chao zhou ren), the woman who owns the Chinese food corner place, and a Pinai and her son.  They grilled me about my rent and was horrified to find how expensive it was (I even padded it down a little, in good Chinese habits).  They said that I could have easily found a place for $300 / month.  Ok.  Then I somehow almost got set up on a marriage (not even a date) with the Pinai’s sister – she tried to butter me up first with a nutter butter – and a few minutes later the owner of the store’s almost divorced eldest daughter who has a kid.  His version of buttering me up was telling me not to buy half of the canned goods in the store because they were hella expired.  And for that nugget, I’d be willing to let him think I may move to Jersey to father his grandson.

Other than that, the woman who owned the antique shop from whom I bought stuff texted me and asked if I was okay.  She then offered for me to hang out with her this Saturday the shop.  I’ve also planned two lunches with current Penn Ed Policy students and will go Dragon Boat-practicing tonight with VC (and likely karaoking and all sorts of fun during the weekend).  So for those who are worried I might be lonely (which I think is prolly no one)…