baby birthday rachel

Birthday months are fun for mail, although living abroad makes pieces few and far between. It only makes me loves the ones that make the effort more. But I certainly had not been expecting to receive a request via post to film what I’m sure was going to be a very classy film called “Beyond the Sin.” The letter requested the use of our apartment for a few days this summer to film some scenes depicting a normal young woman’s life. Before she engages in what I assume is . . . well I’m just not going to go there. While flattered that our apartment is considered film-worthy (and it so is. I freaking love it, despite the failing plants I keep populating our shelves with and the home improvement damage I continue to do), Suze and I are both upset we weren’t even offered the role of pizza delivery or nosy neighbor. Would love to add a film credit to my Tinder profile. Such a great conversation starter.

My next question is how were we selected? Who knew of our house? I can only assume someone in our circle of friends, who has spent time in our Pinterest-y pad or partied on our roof with us, is somehow involved. Curiouser and curiouser.

Somehow I have ended up on Yearbook staff again this year. And I love it, because I believe so much in capturing memories, and this is so unique, and I think it’s an important job. It’s also a ton of work, but that’s okay. For one of my pages, I’m quoting new staff on where their home country is and what they love about their school. I was struck by my own question – “where is home for you?” Part of me has been waiting for some grand, physical, overwhelming feeling to wash over me where I might finally say “this is home now. I live in Hong Kong and I love living in Hong Kong and this is home.” I was chatting with a friend and realizing that this summer, going back to the States for five weeks and then returning to HK, will be a big test. When I get back on the plane in August, will I be saying “ah, I’m going home” or “I don’t wanna leave home” or something completely different?

my hood

Maybe it’s ‘home’ enough to be with my roommate, happy on the couch, rewatching “Parks and Recreation” from the beginning. And getting excited about a new sponge and replacing the toilet seat by ourselves. And texting my sisters and besties and looking at all the pictures on my phone that I’ve saved of the dogs. And the staff at the laundromat and the gym and the wine shop across the street recognizing me. And being happy enough where I work.

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week in the United States, which I remember quite fondly from my first teaching job. I’ve been enjoying it in a backwards way – appreciating how much I love teaching. It’s crazy to think that nearly 100% of people on earth will have contact with teachers in their lives, and how important the job is. I work my ass off and complain about things all the time, but the whinging is about management and emails and paperwork and parents, never about the kids. Kids are so freaking cool, and interesting, and challenging. I’m so lucky to hang out with them all day.

genius child for sure

My Facebook popped up a memory of something I’d posted about writing when I was seven, and I keep laughing at how little and how much I’ve changed. My apologies to every teacher I had. And also, what was I like? I know how much I talk about my kids and hope and dream for them . . . I wonder what my teachers dreamed for me. Probably that I would ever stop talking. Haha jokes on you. Now parents pay for their kids to listen to me talk all day.

Teaching is never boring. Or simple. It’s throwing stale croutons on top of cottage cheese and calling it a salad, eating a container of yogurt with chopsticks while riding the elevator down to yard duty, helping kids tie shoes and breaking up a tiny million fights and drying tears and endless hugs that leave you with stains on your dress, holding your pee for eight hours, repeating everything twelve million times, trying not to laugh, trying not to cry, marker on your hands no matter what you do, drinking coffee until it’s okay to drink wine. And in the middle of that, getting really excited to help kids understand the difference between simple past and imperfect past tense, or discussing the linguistic history of the silent ‘k’ and telling them to start eating with a fork and a kah-nife to help them remember.

or eating yogurt with chopsticks . . .

And there’s the meetings, and paperwork, and paperjams, and mutual eye rolls with your bestie across the staff room. I never would have thought I’d be doing this. I was supposed to be on Saturday Night Live! I was gonna be famous! I was never going to work very much or very hard at all but here we are and I love it.

roomie night out!

I did get a little taste of stardom the other night – my friend Karinda hosted an awesome open mike night for her birthday that raised 14,000HKD to support YoungLife in Cambodia by buying laptops for an outreach program. It’s pretty incredible to be able to raise that amount of money in four hours, but Karinda did it! And we had a blast. I have been promising myself that I would sing at an open mike night for like, oh, 10 something years. I knew I had to do it but I was pretty nervous.

I’ve sung at weddings and funerals and graduations, sang in front of huge crowds before, so I don’t know why a tiny bar that’s shutting down made me so weird. And I totally aged myself by printing off the chords instead of looking them up on the iPad. But my friend Nick played, and we started with “Linger” by the Cranberries, and a drummer came up, then a bassist, then electric. People were singing along and swaying and it felt magical. We sang “Time After Time,” too, and I’m sure I was blushing like crazy, and my stomach was full of butterflies and I couldn’t make eye contact except to look at my friend Gabriel who was inappropriately moshing in the corner to my beautiful love song. But I did it and it was good. Cross that off the bucket list. Put it on the “that was fun, let’s do it again” list.

waking up to this is okay.

I’m house-sitting for a friend this week and it’s a gorgeous apartment with stunning views of sunset over the water and the lights of the city. The goldfish are obnoxious (honestly who knew fish could be so loud) but the gig is pretty chill. I’m on the 28th floor and I don’t know if this California girl will ever get over her ears popping on the elevator ride up to someone’s abode. I’ll take my ancient, sixth floor walk up, falling apart apartment any day over something I’m worried might topple over in the wind. Even if my neighbors are potty training their toddler in the hallway.

like, actually in the hallway. which is not big. at all.

Tchau for now, friends. Thanks for all the birthday wishes last month. If you haven’t heard it today and you need to, calories don’t count during your birthday month. You can take that one to the bank.