Stop me if you’ve heard this one already – A hotdog and a banana crash a baby’s Halloween parade at 11am on a Saturday. One of them may or may not have already had a cheeky Skol, and they both decided it would be nice to bring candy. Apparently not knowing anything about how real babies work (ie that they only consume breastmilk), the over-excited 30-somethings bring Skittles, Nestle Crunch, and peanut butter M&Ms.
The babies, of course, can’t eat the candy, or anything at all. But it ended up working out for us, because we brought them home, and I’ve been stress-eating Skittles ever since, which makes my tongue fun colors.
On actual Halloween, I did nothing at all but went to the gym and wished I lived on a cul-de-sac. But then found out our friend Ari was hosting a wee Halloween parade, complete with decorations, music, snacks, and lots of sitting on blankets, so we had to go, and it was adorable. I met a baby named Maximus, who was dressed as a Roman gladiator, and got to hold Riley, who is THE cutest baby ever, and my flatmate and I roamed the streets of Sai Ying Pun on Saturday morning, delighting and/or confusing everyone we saw.
Suz chose the better costume, because everyone knows what a banana is. They all pointed at her and said versions of “nana!” But Chinese kids don’t know what hot dogs are, so I didn’t get nearly enough positive attention.
Gone are the days of Halloween at UCSB, which lasted a week, and we rotated through costumes of sexy __________, and it was ridiculous in the best way. One of my favorite nights was when I was dressed as a french maid and made friends with two guys dressed as Mormons on bicycles and we hung out all night. Or when Garrett came as a Facebook wall.
Speaking of Facebook, I was notified that I have been a member of the cult for FIFTEEN YEARS. Which means I joined when I was 10, which is wild. It’s crazy to think how much it’s evolved since the early days when you needed a college email address to join. Remember how weird the “wall” concept was at first? Or adding a cover photo? Or when they let our parents join? The horror! Now I basically use it only to communicate with family members.
Family members that I will be seeing in 32 days, but who’s counting? No one, except for me, every morning when I wake up, and the first thing I do is reach for my phone . . . and hit snooze. Then, eight minutes after completing that important ritual, find me actually waking up and clicking on my “Days Until” app and watching the countdown decrease by one glorious day until I’m back in the good ol’ US of A.
The plan is to go to Chicago and meet my bestie’s baby for a few days and probably feel my heart explode, spend some time at home with the pups, take a bubble bath, pay homage to Target, maybe see some family in San Diego, and enjoy being cold. I spent last Christmas break in Angkor Wat where it was a casual thousand million degrees so I’m looking forward to fireside snuggles and a wind chill. Remind me that I said this when I’m crying frozen tears in Chicago.
To help ease into the holidays, I’m throwing my annual Thanksgiving party on my roof! We should have about eight or nine countries represented; two people will be their first Thanksgiving ever! I am so excited for the shenanigans.
A big group of us hung out this weekend at a community music fest on an enchanted little planned community island called Discovery Bay. The day was also improved by a Scottish Highlands band, complete with kilts, beards, and the lead singer on accordion, so I tripped and fell in love, as you do. It felt like a mini vacation just taking the ferry over from the chaos that is Central to sit on the beach, eat snacks, listen to music, and people watch with some of those I love best in Hong Kong. Living thousands of miles away from your biological family means you have to find people to be your expat family, and I’ve got some good ones.
You need that community of people around you when the world starts dissolving into panic and violence. Hong Kong has been hit particularly hard this weekend – before the work day had even really started, riot police were out in force by my school, a protestor was shot at close range by the police, a policeman on a motorcycle ran protestors down, rumours were flying about molotov cocktails being thrown at school buses, politicians have been stabbed, tear gas and water cannons fired on crowds, transportation shut down, and a man was set on fire in a crowd of people.
Leaving school today, I felt a tightness in my chest that I couldn’t tell was anxiety or lingering tear gas fumes from the action that’s been happening incredibly close to what I’ve thought of as my safe bubble of work and home. The escalation this weekend came from the news that a university student passed away as a result of injuries sustained when he fell from a structure while running away from tear gas and pursuit by the police.
It’s hard to know what to think or feel in these times of uncertainty. I’ve been away from the States so long now I forget big things but also small certain things like Veteran’s Day, because here it’s called Singles Day as the numbers are 11.11 and it’s a massive online sale day. I forget what calendar day it is at home, and miss birthday texts at the right time because of my 16 hour time difference.
I forget that I’m getting older, and everyone else is, too, and they’re not just frozen in my last memory of them back home. Lives have gone on even in my absence, and despite the conveniences of technology, I am missing so much of the day to day. And I don’t know what that means, and how I fit back in, for my future return, or if there will be one. There seems to be fewer reasons to stay here, but fewer to go back, as well. Nothing ever seems to go as you plan.
So I keep having as much fun as I can – shamelessly take pictures of everything and try to write it all down because I don’t know when it will change or go away. I laugh with and laugh at my students. I celebrate the small victories like finally replacing the table that the typhoon destroyed last year, and mailing a letter at the post office, and being a mom to eight plants that still live weeks and even months after being purchased.
And I enjoy the carefree moments that remind me I’m more than just a teacher or the crazy relative living in Asia – I absolutely loved played volleyball with my coworkers on Friday – I forgot how important that sport was for me. I even had to take myself off the court at one point and just ref the game because I was getting a wee bit competitive. I read things that make me laugh and cry and watch documentaries and LOTS of Queer Eye and even more videos of unlikely animal friendship pairings and dog homecomings. I eat too much candy and stay up too late reading and I look at all your instagrams and I love it all so much.
And I hope.