Today, I am back from a LONG LONG hiatus!

Oh. my. goodness. have we been gone for quite a long time?!. However, I still remember what Markie’s mom mentioned to her. I don’t remember the exact wording, but that it’s important for us all to keep up with this blog, to post our thoughts. Afterall, we’ll turn this into our best-selling memoir, right? 🙂

It’s been about 1.5 years since we first started this blog and so much has happened. On my end, I’m confronting the multiple crossroads that Charkie refers to her in her analysis of Rules of Civility. But I’m just struggling along on this road, so much that I decided to take a trip to Fallingwater last week. If you ever get a chance to go, I’d suggest going! 🙂 I know you shouldn’t run away from your problems, however, this was the perfect location to just listen to the sound of the waterfall, bathe in the sunlight that crept through the foliage, look at a cool-ish building, and think. Sometimes, it’s easy to stress ourselves over what will happen next. Which path will I take next? A job or further schooling to launch a career? Some reflections of my friendships and of the relationship that slowly slipped through my fingers. But whatever happens happens and we can only build and grow from those experiences.

Anyways, the Kaufmanns were a well-to-do family living in Pittsburgh who loved to vacation in the mountains of Western Pennsylvania. Having made this trip myself, I find it very easy to see why they would have enjoyed such a thing. Their summer camp home here had originally been just a little cabin with no heat and no running water, however, they turned to Frank Lloyd Wright to design this building over the waterfall. What makes this house unique is it’s utilization of cantilever structures (terraces, furniture inside, etc) over the water.

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Today, I share highlights from Munich!

(Remember those times I promised photos? Yep, me too. Most of these were taken by Gail. For chronological orientation, please see this post.)

Our train left from Keleti, Budapest's Eastern train station. We arrived more than an hour early (I'm seeing a pattern), rail novices that we were.

Our train left from Keleti, Budapest’s Eastern train station. We arrived more than an hour early (sense a pattern?), rail novices that we were.

I boarded  with the help of this handy foldout lift. Thanks to ÖBB, the Austrian rail company!

I boarded with the help of this handy foldout lift. Thanks to ÖBB, the Austrian rail company!

After a 6-hour ride, we arrived at the Munich train station, pictured here. Thus began our 3 day, 2 night stay, with 1 hotel move. We arrived on a Friday evening, and were quite tired.

After a 6-hour ride, we arrived at the Munich train station, pictured here. Thus began our 3-day stay!

Fußball makes its first appearance with this ad featuring Schweinsteiger.

Fußball makes its first appearance with this ad featuring Schweinsteiger.

The city hall on Marienplatz is a main attraction. My impressions were a bit blighted by the overcast weather, but it was still an impressive sight.

The city hall on Marienplatz is a main attraction. My impressions were a bit blighted by the overcast weather.

There were still splashes of color to be found!

There were still splashes of color to be found!

On Saturday, we had lunch at the Hofbräuhaus, first founded as royal brewery, and now a major tourist attraction for typical Bavarian food.

On Saturday, we had lunch at the Hofbräuhaus, first founded as royal brewery, and now a major tourist attraction for traditional Bavarian food. The halls were packed with guests merrily singing, eating, and drinking along to live music. We seated ourselves and had to wait quite a while for our food. I don’t think most people mind, since the drinks flow continuously and pretzel baskets circulate.

One of the sights we visited that afternoon was the Frauenkirche.

One of the sights we visited that afternoon was the Frauenkirche.

The next day, we went to visit the Old & New Pinakotheks, two art museums (1 euro admission on Sundays!) spanning several centuries of paintings. Check out this old-school thought bubble :)

The next day, we went to visit the Old & New Pinakotheks, two art museums (€1 admission on Sundays!) spanning several centuries of paintings. Check out this old-school speech bubble 🙂

Less than €200 for a full lederhosen outfit? What a bargain!

Less than €200 for a full lederhosen outfit? What a bargain!

Today, I write from the motherland!

After a lifetime of hearing about Hong Kong from my mother and relatives, I’m finally here!

It started on Saturday, when we left Frankfurt on a direct,11-hour flight leaving at 22:00.

We arrived early and had 4 hours to leisurely wait at the gate.

We arrived early and had 4 hours to leisurely wait at the gate.

Imagine fear of losing your luggage x 10 and that's what I'm feeling right there.

Imagine fear of losing your luggage x 10 and that’s what I’m feeling right there.


Here’s part of my travel routing: packing up my wheelchair for flight. Since it is stored with the cargo and just generally handled by many strangers in transit, I never quite know what will come out at the final destination. Thanks to Gail’s meticulous packing, it arrived unharmed!
I even had time to video chat with some relatives and Jarkie, thanks to free wifi in the “Fraport” after a month of limited internet data. She told me that my hair was like “Murry Curry’s” (as in, the Nobel Prize winner; what a southerner!;) ). Some people leave flights still looking radiant; seems like I can’t even board them that way!

We arrived in the HK and were greeted by my aunt at the massive airport (there’s even a cinema!). She lives with my Pau Pau (maternal grandmother) in an apartment of a campus dorm where she serves as the faculty-in-residence.  I hadn’t seen Pau Pau since she moved back to HK 3 years ago, and it was even better than I expected to be in each other’s company again. Their home is so spacious by any standards, let alone HK’s, with beautiful views, and we feel so blessed to be here!

Maybe I should've gone to school here... the university sits on the hills of Kowloon, right next to the water, with the mountains in the distance.

Maybe I should’ve gone to school here… the university sits on the hills of Kowloon, right next to the water, with the mountains in the distance.

On the first night, we went to eat at the Chinese restaurant on campus that serves dim sum every day at lunch time! :O A-mazing! (see caption above)

Yesterday, we rode a bus line from one end, a large mall, to the other, the waterfront at Sai Kung.

Pier at Sai Kung

Pier at Sai Kung. My aunt says that this use to be a day trip for the family when they were growing up.

Drying fish

Drying fish

Just a regular day at the fish market aquarium...

Just a regular day at the fish market aquarium…

Today, we went downtown for a buffet lunch and stopped to take in the Avenue of the Stars.

Look at the skyline!!

Look at the skyline! There were a couple of those so-called Chinese “junk” sailing ships.

My father and I, both visiting for the first time, are taken in by the vibrancy and composition of the city. I’m really looking forward to my mother’s arrival in a few weeks to see what she has to say about her memories and current impressions.

Today, I am heading back home.

What a CRAZY few days!

Sunday:
Drive from NC to MD
Meet up with Jarkie and get “breakfast” at 10pm

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Monday:
Drive from MD to NYC
Stop in Brooklyn for bread and to meet my grandpa’s adorable brother who I didn’t even know existed (Calixte…cool name!)
Drive to stadium in NJ
Cheer on the team among throngs of national team fans!
Drive from NJ to MD at 1am

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Tuesday:
Leave MD at 3pm and hopefully get home in a timely manner

Phew!

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It seems that everything that could go wrong did go wrong. My dad is always quoting Murphy’s law.

I’ll be getting a ticket for running a red light which, long story short, is false. My dad is gonna get a ticket from a toll because he went to the EZpass line and once he realized it, he couldn’t back up. And I’m sure we’ll probably get some kind of speeding ticket because Maryland gives them out like toothbrushes at the dentist’s office.

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It took us 4 hours to get from Brooklyn to the Stadium–a 12 mile drive. We had a ticket for a double header (2 games back to back) and we completely missed the first one and barely made it for kickoff of the second one. I only had $7 for $10 parking so I had to make a U-turn and meet up with my dad who hopped out to get food. My grandpa (Pepe) and I didn’t have much time so we only ate a quarter of our sandwiches and I put the rest in my bag so we could run to the stadium. Of course, no food is allowed so I had to throw it away.

And to top it all off, Haiti lost 2-0.

BUT, at the end of the day, this was one of the most fun trips ever! I adopted the “it is what it is” mentality before we left and it really paid off! I can’t wait to get home and sleep but I enjoyed my epic road trip.

P.s. I forgot to mention that I spent 4 hours being run ragged by two absolutely adorable, yet exhausting, kids. I learned A LOT.

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Runnin’ ‘Round Town

My cousin Gail arrived on Tuesday, and we have been exploring Budapest. Wednesday, on our first full day together, we saw the Opera House, Basilica, Vaci utca, Déak ter, and that general area. It was my first time up close to the Basilica, and it is beautiful! Unfortunately, the lift was broken, so I couldn’t go in. We were out during the hottest part of the day, and by the time we got back, the heat had sapped our energy. Having learned our lesson, we started out in the late afternoon yesterday (oh yeah, also because I forgot to charge my wheelchair batteries overnight. tsk tsk), and ventured to Keleti train station to buy tickets, Heroes’ Square, the City Park, and the Szechenyi baths.

“Photos or it didn’t happen!” you say … well, luckily for me, Gail is a great photographer, so I will wait for her to upload her pictures. Here are just a few:

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Some other interesting sights along the way:
– a Chinese hot pot restaurant
– part of the Berlin Wall on Andrassy utca
– guys doing bike tricks on Heroes’ Square

The more I see of Budapest when visitors come, even though it’s often the same sites, the more I grow to appreciate its charm and beauty. More soon!

You don’t change the city
The city changes you

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Today, I am going back in time and forward in my mind

Last night, Hope for Haiti had a concert event and my mom and I were volunteering at the info table. It was an interesting experience. For one thing, we got there at 5:30 to set up and didn’t break down until 11:30…so we were out a long time. And this was at a sports bar so people were drinking and being merry and we just observed. People are so fascinating in social situations and it can be so easy to get caught up in watching and miss out on participating. My social skills were exercised a little bit and I met this cool guy who is a chiropractor that works with Olympic athletes and we had a great convo about non profits and aid and all that jazz and I hope it’ll be fruitful in the time to come. At the end of the day, I reminded myself that I am not totally incapable of speaking to other humans in a way that is intelligible and interesting. Win for me.

We got home late last night and today my dad and I spent some time vegging (sp?). We watched a football match and the Thomas Crowne Affair featuring an always dapper Pierce Brosnan. Just chillin with my dad reminded me of the old days when my sis and I were kids and my mom worked on weekends and we would all just hang out and watch movies and ride bikes and stuff. My dad and I are similar in that we will watch almost any movie multiple times. At least I know I get it from somewhere! The weather outside was a balmy 77 degrees so we decided to stop being lazy around 1:30 and go to the driving range. My elbow hurts and I’ll probably be sore tomorrow but at least I made some good contact and it was nice to get some vitamin D to fight the fatigue!

My trip down memory lane continued when my dad stopped the radio on a Cyndi Lauper song and started singing to it. Sometimes I forget that he was an entire person before his family happened and he watched movies like Beverly Hills Cop (he’s obsessed) and knew all the lyrics to Purple Rain (he was genuinely offended when he found out this fall that I’d never heard it before). Also, we were driving behind this car that he owned in the early 90s…frankly, it should have never entered this millennium.

Anyway, my day was spent in the hazy in-between of nostalgia and real life and was overall one of the most pleasant and low stress I’ve had in a while. It was a complete day, nothing felt rushed or wasted. It’s amazing how much I can search for peace but it just decides to consume me when I’m not looking.

The usual: Chelsea plays tomorrow and this past week one of my many loves finally scored a goal, an important one to continue on in a tournament. Real played today and thankfully managed a 5-2 victory and players broke records and stuff. I speak vaguely because I am the only one who cares for the details…a little too much, perhaps. Duke lost to MD, which is even more frustrating than the norm because my dad is an MD alum and my mom cheers them on too. 😣

I’m really looking forward to summer and all the wonder that comes with warmth.

Now that things are feeling all peachy, I’m gonna get back to doing stuff I want to do like reading–I really wanna get my hands on Les Miserables but I have so many unfinished ones here…what to do?? And I also need to get back on the ball with my German and Portuguese. I moved my German book from my room to the living room where I keep my computer just to remind myself to do it.

(Char, I feel like I’m channeling one of our favorite JMs with my update on sports and recommendations and stuff. Maybe I’ll take his formatting…it works!)

Finally, I am obsessed with some new (to me) songs right now, one if which is called All I Want by Kodaline.

Today, I am done for a while…hopefully

I have been out of town for the past 3 weekends and I kinda started working again during the week so suffice it to say I’m exhausted!

This weekend was pretty great. My dad and I went to Maryland to visit some family (and I got to see Jarkie!) and it was one of my favorite trips so far. I guess because I’m getting older, I am starting to understand how important time with the elderly relatives is. Soon they’ll be gone and a rich part of my family history will be gone with them. Even though there is a generation/culture/language barrier between me and them, I still love and cherish them so much because they are a part of who I am. Even if I barely know them in terms of personality, I understand the impact they have had and will have on my life. I also realize the responsibility I have, as the eldest of my generation, to continue on family traditions and relationships. While it is a little daunting to think of being in a will other than my parents’, I am also proud of the fact that I belong to something bigger just by being born.

Ok that was random and probably convoluted but this weekend was like a step outside of myself and see the big picture experience. I also drove by my old house that I lived in from age 4-8 and it made me so happy! Nostalgia is a funny thing–one day it can make you really sad and the next day really happy.

One thing that will never cease to amaze me is the hospitality of the Haitian community. From the second you walk in the door, even if you’ve never met the person, they welcome you with a kiss and plates of food. So. Much. Food. This weekend. At the end of it, all I wanted was an apple. A cleanse will be happening soon.

I also saw Janet and George and it was really nice to see familiar faces in an unfamiliar place. Can’t wait til visiting becomes a regular thing.

Anyway, in regular life, I’m feeling pretty good about the future right now. There are two potentially life changing things that are on the horizon for my family and I am too excited about it. Personally, moving forward in location and life is becoming more real to me though it’s still a dream when looking at my bank account.

Ok, off to watch Shahs of Sunset reunion and DOWNTON ABBEY FINALE!!!