The Old is New Again

Edited to Add: Day Three pictures, bitchez!

So.  Today.  Bro knocked at the door this morning to ask if I wanted to go with him and my niece to grab a bun.   I’m always up for some bun-grabbin’, so I said yes.  Hey, he knocked and asked if I wanted to go.  That’s a big change for him.  Anyway, we went to Yamazaki Bakery to grab a bun or two.  They make their pastries fresh every day, and they are amazing.  My bro had a triple-cheese bread thing.  My niece had a mini tangerine Danish and…oh yeah!  Maple sugar French toast (thick-ass slice).  Me?  I had a Dutch melon bread bun.  I have no idea where the name comes from, but the bun is light and fluffy and to. die. for.   As you know, my family is very food-oriented, so that’s why I tend to describe the food I eat wherever we go.  My bro is uploading the pics to FB as I type this, so I will have pictures shortly.

So, everyone enjoyed breakfast.  We strolled back to the hotel, and I went into my room so I could get online.  I could hear my mom as she passed my door–oh, she called me at eight-thirty this morning to tell me the schedule, waking me up in the process.  My sleep has been for shit since I’ve gotten here, but that’s nothing out of the ordinary for me.

Anyhoo, my mom walked past my door to go to my bro’s room.  I heard another voice–it was my father.  I didn’t expect him to be with my mother this morning, so I tensed up immediately.  Soon, we were on our way.  There was a minor skirmish because my parents insisted my bro and I go back to get our umbrellas.  “It could rain, and we have to walk!”  They gasped in dismay.  Ok, not really, but they were pretty adamant about it.  We decided to get our umbrellas rather than waste more time arguing about it.  Needless to say, the umbrella rode along in my purse all day long.  Oh, and I will never listen to my parents tell me that it’s gonna be cold–ever.  We were going up north, and it was a bit nippy in Taipei.  They said it could get really cold.  I put on my black gortex-like longjohns under my heavier black pants.  On top, I had on a long-sleeved t–shirt under a long-sleevedshirt, and I brought a fleece jacket with me.  The fleece was the first to go.  Halfway through the day, I took off the top shirt.  If I had had on a regular t-shirt under the long-sleeved one, I would have taken off the long-sleeved t-shirt as well.

Anyway, we met one of my cousins at the train station.  She was at the family reunion earlier, and she’s been really homesick the last few weeks.  See, she’s one of my US cousins, but she got called by God (I wonder if He uses a cell) to be a missionary.  She is doing her work in Taiwan.  Anyway, she’s very cute and petite and sweet and smart and an all-around nice person.  As my niece said, “You can’t help but like ____.”  It’s true.  You can’t.

So, on the train, I started flashing back as I’m talking to my niece.   I had tears in my eyes, but I kept my voice even so my niece wouldn’t know that I was upset.  I kept seeing a close up of him penetrating me with his fingers, and then the scene would pan back to him holding his hand over my mouth and telling me that I don’t ever say no to Dad.  Over and over and over again.  Not pleasant, let me tell you.  Keeping all that to myself as I played an alphabet game with my niece was surreal.

We went to a city by the river today.  It’s called Danshui, and it had an old-city feel to it…except, it had Mister Donuts and Dunkin’ Donuts across from each other right outside the station.  Plus, McDonald’s, Starbucks, and a bunch of other American eateries.

Still, I was charmed by the old-world feel to the city.  There were fishermen on the shore, casting their lines again and again.  We stopped at a Taiwanese clothing store because my bro wanted to pick up an outfit for his oldest son (middle child).  I saw a shirt I really liked–a men’s shirt.  I tried it on (the right size), and it looked good on me, so I got it.  My bro got a very pretty dress for his wife, and my niece got an outrageously colorful purple sequined jacket.  My cousin got a fitted white shirt that made me swoon in envy (not for the color, but for the fact that she could wear something that slim), and we moved on.

We had some dumplings which were the yummy (niece refused to eat one), and then we walked some more before stopping to have a snack.  Now, I can’t tell you exactly what it was, but it was YUMMY.  Deep-fried tofu wrapped around green bean noodles (like rice noodles) and some kind of meat.  Plus, glutinous rice bun filled with pork.  Oh my god, it was so fucking good.  The niece did not like, though.  Again, she was a trooper about walking all over the place and not complaining, but her food restrictions really made it difficult to find something she would eat.  After our snack, we went to Starbucks to get her a chocolate muffin with chocolate chips.  Oh wait.  Before Starbucks but after the snack, we stopped at an ice cream stand to get some ice cream.  More like sherbet than ice cream, and when my brother gets today’s album up, I will post a pic, but I had mango, my niece had vanilla/chocolate twist, my cousin had green tea, my bro had strawberry, and my mom had taro root–which was purple.

After Starbucks, we wandered around some more.  The city was a mix of old and new, and it was quite interesting.  Except, and yes, it’s the common refrain, my feet started hurting.  So did my knees.  And my back.  We started at ten in the morning.  We went to see a British consulate (up a steep hill), and I had to keep moving because my father would walk up behind me and stand uncomfortably close to me.  While I could talk to him in a civil manner, I couldn’t tolerate having him touching me.  I kept having flashbacks at random times, which didn’t help matters.  I had to keep that strictly locked up in a corner of my mind, or I would have freaked the fuck out.

We spent all morning and part of the early afternoon meandering to the consulate.  My parents had planned on being out of Danshui by 1 pm.  Didn’t happen.  My mom said if we stayed, we’d have to skip the zoo.  Both my brother and I were fine with that, but she kept fretting about it.  There was no way we could make it to the consulate and lunch by 1 pm.

Lunch.  We decided to go to McDonald’s so my niece could eat something.  By the time we got there, it was nearly 2 p.m.  My dad had to be at a meeting at 2:30 p.m., so he grabbed a fish sandwich while we were there.  He had to leave while my niece was finishing up, and I breathed a sigh of relief once he was gone.

Oh, I have to tell you about my weird moment in the morning.  I was using the bathroom before my bro, my niece, and I went out for breakfast (no, that’s not the weird part, sillies).  As I was going, the lights flickered on-and-off twice.  After I finished, I went outside to ask my bro if my niece had done it (she liked to play tricks on me).  He said, no.  I asked if he was sure.  He said they both were standing outside in the hallway the whole time.  I immediately thought of my boys who always had to accompany me to the bathroom back home, and I decided it was their way of sending me a signal to let me know they were with me in spirit.  Hey, I can interpret it however I want, and that thought comforts me.

Then, while we were in Danshui, we saw many dogs (all wearing coats or sweaters).  I saw this beautiful black lab trotting around sans clothing–twice.  None of the other dogs had any black in them at all.  (Except for the Boston terrier).  I decided that the black dog was my familiar for the day.  It made me feel better, so I kept the thought in mind.

Anyway, after my dad left, we went to the day market.  It’s like the night market, except, it happens during the day.  Here was when things started souring a bit.  I hit the wall, first of all.  I slept like shit last night, so I was ready to crash around three.  We saw a hat store, and my niece wanted to try on a hat.  While she was doing that, my cousin decided to try on a hat, too.  Now, keep in mind that she’s five-two, maybe a hundred pounds, and cute, cute, cute.  Every hat she tried on was adorable on her.  Same with my niece.  The proprietor asked if I wanted to one, but the hats were not me.  I tried a few, but I am not cute in the slightest.  I wasn’t made for cute; I don’t do cute; cute looks ridiculous on me.  I am not feminine at all, so wearing things with lace and bows and shit just looks…wrong.  When I was in Thailand for a semester in college (I had short hair then), my friend’s house mother told me I looked like a ‘gratuii’, which is a transvestite.

So I was watching my cousin and my niece try on hats, and I was feeling frumpy, ugly, not feminine, and wistful.  My cousin is so damn cute, and so effortlessly.  She kept holding up all these frou-frou things for me to try, and I couldn’t believe she couldn’t see how ludicrous I would look in that shit.  Oh, and she made me listen to a Miley Cyrus song, which made me grumpy, too.

Anyway, after they bought their hats, we moved on.  My niece and my mom stopped to look at these handcrafted owls for at least thirty minutes.  My feet were killing me by this point, and I was feeling more than a bit grumpy.  I realized that my cousin is EXACTLY what my mother would want as a daughter.   She’s petite, sweet, loves to shop, a Christian (a fucking missionary!), girly, and in general, everything I am not.  My cousin asked if I was on FB, and I said I was.  I said I doubted she would want to find me on there, though.  I mean, really.  My FB wall isn’t called the Wall of Smut for nothing.  My cousin had been talking about passing a guy selling false eyelashes on the night market, and she and her friend said, “Would you buy false eyelashes from a guy?”  I said without missing a beat (or thinking about it), “I would if he were a drag queen.”  Dead silence.

Crap.  This is running late, and I am exhausted.  Day market food (no pics today, I’m afraid, as my bro hasn’t shown up with the memory stick.  I think he’s fallen asleep):  Deep-fried squid with wasabi salt; more dumplings and an awesome green onion pancake; white candy that tasted like…um…glass marshmallows; dried pork and dried fish.  I think that was it.

I will tell you about tonight later.  It’s getting late, and I need to crash.  I will be going to my father’s family’s reunion tomorrow (and karaoke), and that is gonna be hell.  The last time I was here, my father’s sisters didn’t like me at all.  They clucked their tongue because I couldn’t speak Mandarin, and they would talk to me in Mandarin.  Once I got the basics down, they switched to Taiwanese, which I can somewhat understand, but I can’t speak at all.  There are big class differences (my dad is the only of his sibs to go to college), and I know I’m going to be a freak times ten down there.  Sigh.

I most likely will not have an internet connection, either.  In other words, I’ll be off the grid, bitchez.

8 Responses to The Old is New Again

  1. I’m liking your niece more and more… because the pickier she is about food and the more time you guys spend finding something she wants to eat the less time your parents focus on you.

    Happy New Year and we’re all clicking the virtual light switches on and off for ya on the intertubes. 🙂

  2. Minna, if you could see yourself the way some others do, you wouldn’t feel so, ‘frumpy, ugly, not feminine.’ You are a WOMAN, goddammit, and that is what feminine IS. I’m not talking , ‘femmy’ or ‘princess-y.’ Don’t buy that narrow definition. I won’t. It reminds me of the stupid rednecks who would ask, ‘is that a man or a woman?’ (visualize punch to face).

    And you are NOT frumpy, and absofuckingtlutely NOT ugly.

    So what if you’re not the daughter your mom wanted. Why does she have any say? You’re a human being, not some robot. If she doesn’t realize that she has a great daughter already, then it’s her problem.

  3. Choolie, it’s so hard here. All the women are tiny and impossibly cute. I already struggle with my desirability–it doesn’t help when I feel like a great, galumphing elephant besides. Ugh.

    As for my mom, yeah, I know. It still hurts sometimes. My cuz is in the batch of pics. She’s the tiny thing wearing the cute, round, brown hat.

  4. OK, Minna, let me just ask you one question here, that parallels what I see you saying with you and your cousin. Now, if I read it right, she’s cute and skinny and little and everything she picks up in a store looks good on her, and this makes you feel fat/ugly/worthless.

    Would you allow your Kali to feel that? After all, her sister is built smaller. Her skeleton is lighter, she’s a bit shorter, and built very lithely. Kali, on the other hand, is taller, has a large bone structure, has the butt/hips/thighs of a dancer, “epic boobs” as her sister calls them, and a few extra pounds that her sister doesn’t seem to be able to hold onto. Does that make her fat or ugly?



    (Yes, it’s a dirty move to use your Kali. I know this.)

  5. Kel, you can see a pic of my cuz in my bro’s photo album. And, no, I wouldn’t say that about Kali because she’s not fat. And, she’s as cute as a button. I am fat, and I am not cute. I don’t do cute. So, not the same at all.

  6. But you don’t have to be cute to be attractive. Baby ducks and puppies are cute. Your beauty is much more mature than someone who looks like she’s 12yrs old. Waaaay better.