July 25, 2011

Glasses--the ultimate transformation.

Glasses can change a lot about a person.
After. Big difference, yes?
So the other day, I woke up late and was rushing to get out the door. I had the sink faucet on at full blast while brushing my teeth when all of a sudden, my right contact popped out of my eye and fell straight into the whirlpool I created. Shoots.

I half-blindly rummaged through my bathroom drawers and jammed my pinky in the process of finding my pack of contacts. I was almost positive that I had extras in there, but my fingers found nothing. I stood there, staring in the mirror, and remembered that the last time this had happened was on campus, where I walked around for the next hour dizzy from the having one eye blurred.

I reluctantly took out my left contact and slid my glasses up the bridge of my nose. It was a weird Pavlov's effect--I usually only have my glasses on when I'm about to go to bed. The second I had those lenses in front of my weak eyes, I felt ready to go back to sleep.

At work that night, one of the sushi guys did a triple-take when I waved at him. "Oh, I didn't recognize you. You don't...you don't usually wear those, right?" My mind quickly replayed a previous encounter.

Four months earlier.
"Eden?" I turned and saw my classmate.
"You have glasses?"
Um. I feel that the majority of the Asian population has glasses. I replied, "Yes, but I usually wear my contacts."
"They look nice. You should wear them more often."
My mind starts racing as I wondered what that one line implied. Do I not look nice without my glasses? I mean, in movies, the girl always looks prettier once she takes her glasses off (i.e. "She's All That," "The Princess Diaries," "Scooby-Doo"). I mean, that's the reason I got glasses in the first place! (No, not really. I'm not that absorbed in my appearance. Dodgeball in gym was just brutal to my glasses and my face.)

"No," I replied and then I sheepishly recounted the tale of the morning.
"Okay." Then he gave me the thumbs up.

Glasses are what transforms Superman into Clark Kent...
I have a thing for superheroes.
...and skinny boys into fashionable hipsters.
Or it may be the plaid...
And everytime I have my glasses on, I feel like I will run into a situation where my glasses will be knocked off and I will end up dying because I can't find my blasted glasses. I guess I have Velma from "Scooby-Doo" to thank again. 
Thank you, Velma. Thank you.
And now I don't know how to end this post. That's the one thing about blogging that gets to me. I don't know how to close it off with a nice conclusio

July 21, 2011

Harry Potter. It's all over.

This is me...as Harry Potter.
I wrote this as my Facebook status soon after I dressed up and looked at myself in the mirror: 
after seeing the final product of myself dressed as harry potter, i've decided that i'm changing my costume to "the child of cho chang and harry potter had they gotten together and if scars were inheritable."
By the end of the night, I sweated my scar off. Maybe I shouldn't have dressed up two hours before I left for the theatre. But hey, it was a hectic night.
1. I spent more time than was necessary to perfect my scar. It's hard to draw just looking in the mirror and trying to figure out which way the lightening bolt was supposed to be drawn.
2. I have no air conditioning in my house meaning I'm sweating even if I'm just eating dinner.
3. Mackenzie and I got to the theatre and the line went out the back entrance. And it's hot under my graduation gown (which was my Hogwarts robe).
4. We realized that the staff was cracking down that night and forcing people to sit in their assigned theatre. I was 9, Mackenzie was 5. The others that were coming were 8, 5, and 9.
5. After Mackenzie went in to grab seats, we were asked to pose by some people.
Oh gosh. I just realized how short I really am.
5. Everyone snuck into 5. Sorry Keasha, if you're reading this...I know you told me not to.
6. For the next two hours, we watched other Harry Potter films on my laptop. And got snacks.
7. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part Two" began.

It was a phenomenal ending and goodbye to a beautiful legacy and childhood.

I admit, I did not cry as much as I did in "Part 1," but that was probably due to the fact that the lady two seats to my right sniffled and sobbed so loud, it killed the mood for me. Also, I prepped myself before I came to the movies. I stood in front of the mirror and said (spoiler alert to anyone who cares), "Eden, calm down. You know there'll be death in this film. Fred, Lupin, Tonks. Dobby and Hedwig are already gone. Deep breaths." A single tear rolled down my cheek.

"Deathly Hallows," both parts, were done so beautifully. Longbottom and Luna, Ron and Hermione--ah, both couples just make me giddy. Voldemort's anguish and fear as he felt each horcrux that was destroyed brought feelings of joy within me. The hug he gave Draco when he thought he was going back to the dark side made me giggle at Voldemort's naiveness: Silly Voldemort, Malfoys love their family. Snape's memory was the one part that really brought me to tears. The disbelief he had when he realized that Dumbledore had saved Harry in order to let him die at the opportune moment broke my heart as you realize that Snape did love Harry (though mainly because Harry was Lily's child). And when he scoped out the Lily's situation after Voldemort attacked, I felt my heart break as he held Lily in his arms.

I don't know...sorry this isn't really a great review. I can't really put what I feel in words. On one hand, it was just so amazing that I can't really describe how I felt about it, but on the other hand, I know I feel like I've been robbed and left with nothing. My childhood is over. Am I expected to grow up?

Either way, mischief managed. Goodbye Harry. I'll visit you sometime soon.

July 18, 2011

Mahjong and Chuck E. Cheeses.

I babysat last week at a Chuck E. Cheese's. Honestly, places like that are breeding grounds for future gamblers--bright lights, loud bells, joyous screams, heartbreaking cries. Tickets are dispensed liked rapid fire as tokens are devoured by various games. Children are begging parents to buy more and more tokens, which they waste on one unbeatable game that promises one unbelievable prize.

For some reason, I get rather competitive when I play games with little kids. I guess it's because I never win against people my age so I feel some sort of satisfaction in beating three-year-olds at target games. Pathetic, I know. But hey, you try trampling over forty-ish three- to six-year-olds on your way to the game that held the biggest jackpot: 3,000 tickets. It's another game in itself, and the prize? The realization that you possess the ability to combat scores of children jumping on you.

But I shouldn't say anymore: What happens in Chuck E. Cheese's stays in Chuck E. Cheese's.

Now, Mahjong. No, not the internet Mahjong where you mindlessly match tiles (but I admit that I play sometimes). I'm talking Mahjong. With the physical tiles.
Those are pretty awesome tiles...I want my own set...
With the gambling.
100 HKD (Hong Kong Dollar) = 12.84 USD
You know how movies always depict groups of old men gathered around a chessboard in the park (I've never witnessed them in reality...)? Well, in Hong Kong, and I'm guessing China too, they're gathered around a Mahjong board. And I've joined in on the gathering myself. There's just something about the clicking of the tiles when you "shuffle" them and the joy you feel when have a good hand. And I'm generally a good sport. That is, only if I feel I've been beaten by a worthy hand. Otherwise, all emotions break out on my part.

But in all honesty, if your hand, which would have been worth about 20 USD per loser had you grabbed a winning tile, was vanquished with someone's "winning" hand worth 1 USD per loser, you'd be upset too. And if you were defeated three rounds in a row by such cheap hands, you'd cry too...um...which I may or may not have done.

Here is a clip from a Hong Kong movie called "Mahjong Warrior" so you can get a taste of Mahjong is like. I find this clip hilarious, but that's because I understand what they're saying; you probably won't think the same, but it's here anyway.
Sorry the subtitles weren't very good. That's just how they are in Hong Kong movies. You generally don't switch tiles with your neighbors, but the version they were playing, which they called the "American" version, allowed them to do so.

And there you have it. Mahjong. I've been trying to resist the urge to play since there aren't enough players here to Mahjong with me  (you need four players and the only people I know in my area who plays is my own family, but at the moment, only two members of my family are here) and I know I'll end up sitting at the table by myself, staring longingly at the tiles, wishing there was someway we can play with only three people.

A quick shout-out to Crystal who will be satisfying my need to play Mahjong when I'm back at school. Anyone want to join? (You are a lifesaver, my friend.)

But while I'm home, does someone want to come Mahjong-it-up with me? I'll teach you.

p.s. "Deathly Hallows Part Two" review to come on Thursday...along with pictures, which I know I said I'd post last Friday. I apologize. I lied.

July 11, 2011

Harry Potter. It all ends.

The hero of our generation.

It all ends on July 15th.
I have to sheepishly admit that the first time I watched this fan-made video, I teared up.
Re-enactment of me tearing up.
Lately, I've found that I've been beyond emotionally attached to Harry Potter; I'm holding onto the last piece of my childhood. I remember being confused in "Sorcerer's Stone" when McGonagall asked Quirrell if she could "borrow wood." I vividly recall burying myself in "Prisoner of Azkaban" in my fourth grade classroom and savagely reading through the series in the following years. On July 21, 2007, my parents told me that they had never ordered "Deathly Hallows." I threw a fit, yes I did, but came to realize that my parents lied to me to see my reaction. They laughed and handed me the last book. I tore it from their hands and sat on my rocking chair for countless hours.
I love Harry Potter.
When I watched "Deathly Hallows Part I," I have to confess that I sobbed uncontrollably at the end of the film. I didn't even know why, but tears kept on falling after Dobby died. I knew it was coming, but I guess it hit me that the end was almost there. (I had a good support system composed of some of my roommates and a dear friend of mine. May Dumbledore bless them all.) Last month, when the kids I babysit went to bed, I watched "Goblet on Fire" on TV. Cedric died and I started sobbing. Why? I never cried for him in the multiple times I watched that movie, so why was I crying then?

Yes, yes I could re-read the books and re-watch the movies, but I will miss the anticipation of another movie release, just as I have missed the anticipation of another book release.

For "Deathly Hallows Part II," I decided to go out with a bang. I'm dressing up...again. I went as a Slytherin with Sirius Black's wand for "Part I," Cho Chang--naturally--for "Goblet of Fire" and "Order of the Phoenix," and a quidditch player to all the others. Heck, if one of my sisters were here with me, I'd go as Fred and George...or I could just go as George......sad thought, sad thought.

Thursday night, I will go as Harry Potter, the title character, the hero of both magical and muggle world, the best childhood friend I could ever ask for. (Photo of me as Harry Potter will be posted Friday.)

Anyone else coming to witness the last battle?

July 4, 2011

America, I love you.

What better way to celebrate freedom than to get pumped up about "Captain America: The First Avenger"?
I love America, yes I do. I love America, how about you?
I love America because it embodies one principle that my family has held important in our all lives: freedom.

Last night, my parents and I started talking seriously about our family history. We usually spoke of random parts and such now and then, but this particular evening led me to take extensive notes about a couple of my relatives.

My maternal grandparents acted courageously on, I believe, one of the most crucial decisions of theirs and their descendants’ lives. Here is the story of their escape to Hong Kong.

Family Stories: Part I, or Who Knew That My Frail, Newspaper-Reading, Ever-Ranting Grandmother Had To Go Through This?

Grandpa and grandma were living in Mainland China at the time when the Communist Party took over. Grandpa had heard rumors of what the Communists could do, would do, should someone cross their path. Someone told him of the freedom-less regime that the Communists' would consequently bring with them. He was worried, but felt like he needed to stay because he couldn’t find work in Hong Kong. One day, his son, my uncle, who was four-years-old at the time, came home from school singing, Not for father, not for mother, love only for China. Generations of filial piety were forced out of children's minds and doses of indoctrination were injected. Grandpa made a plan. He would flee to Hong Kong and find a home for his family, who was instructed to stay in China till he sent for them. 

Grandma did all she could to pack up their essentials. When she, her mother-in-law, and her son reached the train station, they were stopped by hoards of Chinese waiting to board the same train to Hong Kong, to freedom. It was as if all of China was waiting to board. The train was already pulled up but its doors were shut and locked. And all of China waited.

And waited. 

And waited.

A police officer nearby noticed Grandma and asked her if she was okay, to which she replied negatively; she was getting dizzy from all the commotion and from the lack of oxygen (or perhaps she felt freedom escaping her). Here, the officer said, I’ll take you to the other side; there’s no one there. They walked over to the next platform, which was empty and my grandma was finally getting fresh air. She looked at the train and saw that one of the doors was ajar. She walked closer.

It was open.

Grandma’s heart started beating three times faster. Was this a sign? As calmly as she could, she walked back towards the crowd and found her mother and son. Come, come quick, she whispered. Her family followed her and they stood in front of the open door. One...two...three. They threw open the door and jumped inside. Grandma dragged her son and her mother-in-law was on their heels. They made it to the middle of the car and they stayed there.

Suddenly, people began to flood the platform. Someone had heard the door sliding open. Punches were thrown, faces were elbowed, groins were kneed: everyone was trying to get on. Afraid that she would be asked to give up her seat, grandma clutched her sweaty son even closer to her heart.

Hours passed, or were they just minutes? The train started to move. Grandma brushed aside her son’s hair, which was plastered with sweat to her chin, and peeked out the window. The train was full, but it seemed that the station was packed still. Fists pounded the outside of the train as if they hoped someone would reach out and grab them, save them from an army marching in from hell. Grandma avoided eye contact.

The train left the station, but Grandma still didn’t feel safe. It wasn’t until they crossed the border into Hong Kong did she take a reassured breath. Grandpa was at the station and Grandma collapsed into his arms. They were safe.

Two days later, trains stopped running and the border between China and Hong Kong closed. Had she try to leave two days later, only God knows for sure how different her life would be. We can only assume that she would have been faced with oppression, violence, and betrayal. She would have faced mankind's worst leaders who promised to lead China to immense prosperity, but instead led her to slaughter and intense poverty. 

She would have faced what my Great Aunt faced. 

That is another story.

End of my non-fiction short story.

And that is why I love freedom. All my siblings and I were born in America because our parents wanted us to be born in a free country. When Hong Kong was given back to China (they were under British rule since the Opium Wars till 1997), my parents flew to America. I remember helping them learn the Pledge of Allegiance and review the Bill of Rights for their citizenship tests. They became citizens when I was in fifth grade. 

Happy Independence Day, America. Keep on fighting for freedom.

Now if you excuse me, I will now spend the rest of the night utilizing one particular gift China gave to western countries: fireworks.