This is pretty much what my day looked like today. Only not quite as pretty...
This is pretty much what my day looked like today. Only not quite as pretty...
John Boehner's got everyone talking this week about whether or not it's ok to cry at work. Check it out:
I've cried at work. Early on in my career, when everything felt much more personal about just about me.
Over the years though, I've realized that the urge to cry is usually about something else. It's pretty rare that the actual emotion I'm having in the cubicle is the Emotion of Sad. More likely the tears well up because I'm frustrated with the process, angry at being disrespected, or there's a disagreement with someone about the right way to go about a job.
Now that I've had a bit more experience in the work world, it's much easier to quickly identify what it is that I'm feeling, why I'm feeling it and what I can do to address it.
All of which is about 80x more productive than crying at work.
I'm back. Totally back. I mean. I've been back in the US since Nov 17? Or 19th? I tell you those first few days were a total jet-lag blur. Total and big huge props to people who are able to make that 15.5 hour flight from HKG to JFK and then go to a business meeting the next day.
I'll tell you what I was doing the next day. The next day I was sleeping. A lot. And trying to remember where things like the bathroom were in my own house. And for some reason the spice rack got moved. And my wife's car was close to kicking the bucket so she was driving mine. Oh. And there was probably the equivalent of a cat's-worth of fur under the TV cabinet.
Other than that everything was just as I left.
It did take me awhile to remember how to use US money. It's ALL GREEN. How in the world do you remember to use the $1 bill rather than the $10 or $100? All the same.
I also miss using the $2 coin. And the $10 coin. Those are some useful bits of currency.
The day after I slept all day, I went into work. Which was its own process trying to remember where the office was. Luckily, it's a fairly tall building and has a sign on top. So that helped. What didn't help was the continued jet lag. I had such a headache, I was exhausted... and I was DIZZY. They don't tell you that, but frequently jet lag can lead to dizziness.
Consider yourselves warned.
When I got to downtown Boston... which in an earlier life of mine I considered to be in a densely packed area of town... I couldn't help but thinking how many more buildings and people we could fit into that space. I mean. There is a LOT of wasted space down there!
Not even kidding.
It was also so funny to hear all of the American accents. I mean honestly. My favorite American accent was the customs guy at JFK who asked me how long I'd been out of the country. And y'all, he was so totally American. Like with an American attitude and in a uniform and tattoos all over his arms. He was like that guy.
"How long were you out of the country?"
"DAMN GIRL! Welcome home!"
Welcome home. :)
Now that the holidays are over (look how twinkly my house looked at Christmas!) and I'm back in the swing of things... I plan to continue blogging here. About communications and community and how dreadfully much I miss Hong Kong.
I adore Hong Kong.
Huge big adore.
I also have a ton of pictures and videos to keep posting from the trip... and I have to tell y'all about the AMAZING foot reflexology place I found in Boston which does a session almost as good as they do in HK.
And check out my nativity set! I found this on my last weekend in HK at the St. John's Cathedral book store. It's just so glorious. All hand-carved, and the figurines are Asian-style. I've always wanted a nativity set and just never found one before that I felt was purchase-worthy. This one. This one totally was.
'You can judge the character of a man by the longevity of his goldfish.' ~ Chinese proverb
Little known fact about me. I'm kind of an expert on fancy goldfish.
I'm not even kidding. I've raised any number of Orandas, Lioncaps and Black Moors. I know a lot about how best care for fancy goldfish, how to cure ich, how to keep it from spreading and optimal water conditions.
I feel in love with fancy goldfish when I saw a gigantic Black Moor in a tank at a pet store in Nashville in like 1996. It was so incredibly beautiful. He just "sat" there in the water. So serene.
Goldfish are so beautiful.
I once picketed the San Gennaro Street Festival in Little Italy* because they had games where they gave out goldfish as prizes. Because you don't give a living animal away to a bunch of drunks eating funnel cakes. I know we all laugh about goldfish and how they're kind of throw-away pets.. but they're not. They're these goregous amazing creatures.
SO OF COURSE I HAD TO GO TO THE GOLDFISH MARKET IN HK!
Oh my goodness. How fabulous! Finally! A people who appreciate a good fancy goldfish!
I started out the day on the Big Bus Tour's blue line/Kowloon tour but ditched it after the driver on the bus couldn't give me directions at all to the Goldfish Market.
Are you kidding me?
So I hopped in a cab. pointed to the picture of the goldfish on my tourist map (provided by the Big Bus Tour!) and was there in a $2 US fare later.
Thank you cab driver.
This is what it looked like.
*I lie. I didn't picket at all. Mostly I stood behind the carny guy and whispered to people, "that's a living animal" in some kind of passive attempt to stop the whole thing.
Which of course didn't work.
Sunday night I went up and watched "Double Indemnity"* at the nearby artists' bar on my street. How amazing was that? I a gin & tonic and a wonderful conversation with an older lady that I've known the NYC and Boston equivalents of in other lives. You can spot her because she knows everything about everything and has green fingernail polish like Sally Boyles.
She's always delightful.
It really does turn out that everywhere you go... there you are. And if you look hard enough, you'll find your people as well.
Wednesdays are poetry night.
And next Sunday they're showing a film by a guy whose like the Czech John Waters.
Of course they are.
And you can order off the menu of the Chinese restaurant next door if you're hungry.
And there's a giant Canadian flag flying outside.
And inside two of the young Chinese staff have Rubic's cube t-shirts and talk a lot about iPhone apps.
* You guys... insurance is a HIGH drama industry! As someone who has a certificate in general insurance (I don't know why either) I could have told you! DRAMA.
Last weekend I took a bus tour of Hong Kong and Stanley. Delightful as always. I adore bus tours. On this one, I discovered that if I were to ever take a right at the end of my street instead of a left toward the escalator... then I might go to this temple to the gods of literature and war.
I mean honestly. Bus tours are so fabulous for that sort thing.
I also went to the Stanley Markets for the first time. No great bargains to be had, although I did buy a print of the 12 Chinese zodiac symbols.
Here's a quick groovy video of the bus tour.
Also, I want to give a shout-out to the world's best bus tour organizer. This guy. Check out how he rocks the attitude in that uniform with the popped collar. All props to him for seriously keeping the annoying tourists in line ad the busses running on schedule all while looking fab. Love him.
If I've learned anything on this trip, it's been the meaning of hospitality. Coworkers have gone out of their way to welcome me not only into the office, but into their countries, their cities and their day-to-day activities.
My coworkers in Japan were not only welcoming... but they made me feel at home. Taking me out to lunch every day, bringing me amazing gifts and the most important part of all... showing me how to use the printer.
Sushi, ramen, baseball souvenirs... and my last evening in Tokyo was spent sitting on a rooftop bar, sipping port, snuggled under a blanket and hanging out with my coworkers. It was a delightfully "hidden" bar that you didn't know was there until it was. No sign. And actually no door. It was a large mirror behind a wooden gate and you had to know the code to access. In a residential neighborhood.
On the rooftop, to my right were the white twinkly neon lights of Tokyo. And to the left was the outline of a residential temple roof.
It was the third stop of the night.
The first was at a *rum* bar. Just rum. No menu. You tell the bartender what you like and she finds the perfect rum for you.
And she did!
The setting of the bar was a lot like what I imagine a Cuban coffeeshop/library must look like. I told her I liked spicy and fruity. She brought me a rum that tasted like a caramel Christmas. I wish I had more.
The second restaurant was run by a woman who travels the world working in different kitchens and then brings it back to her kitchen. It was a selection of different foods all set out. They tell you what they are and you tell them which you want. Like a very upscale buffet in a way. The chef/master was very stern and she gave our table a talking to for not eating properly.
On the rooftop bar, my coworkers presented me a beautiful business card holder and an incense burner. Both of which I had picked up an admired in a store, but didn't purchase.
How wonderful. How just incredibly wonderful.
*My coworkers and I... we're all year of the Boar. Because we're awesome like that.
**The first picture up there is of me and my former coworker Ken who is pretty much the biggest Red Sox fan outside of Boston. Also? Ken used to live on Revere Beach and commute to Quincy and he STILL loves Boston hard core. So he deserves like a super special Red Sox gold medal or something.
Ps. After I got back to HK, I got this very sweet email from the Tokyo coworkers:
We miss you too big time!!!!!! You are incredibly so much fun to work with. Your fun loving attitude towards work is so respectable.
You need to come back.
I love the "fun loving attitude towards work is respectable."
Ok, I've been back from Tokyo forEVER now and just never wrapped up the postings from it. How horrid! Let's address that immediately.
First of all... I stayed in the Roppongi district. Which was great because Roppongi was actually written in English on the street signs, so I knew where I was. There's not a lot of English in Japan. Which I guess was a little suprising for me after spending so much time in Hong Kong where getting around on just English is fairly easy.
Apparently there's a reason for all of the English in the area (and honestly... there WASN'T a lot of English even here. I didn't find an English-language magazine or English-language book the whole time I was in the area. In fact, Tokyo REALLY made me wish I had invested in an iPad or a Kindle before this trip. I went pretty insane from the lack of reading materials)
Still... check out this snippet from Wiki:
After World War II, during which the area was again destroyed, this time by aerial bombing raids, the United States Army and Allied government officials occupied several facilities in the area, beginning Roppongi's reputation as a neighborhood with large numbers of non-Japanese. Several large US military installations were located in the nearby area, with Hardy Barracks probably the most significant.
Um. Apparently my people have been here before me...
(And just a tangent, but I've never been in a country before that my country has had a war with in the past. And while I don't know that anyone else really ever thinks about it now, but I really thought about it a lot while I was in Japan. Which isn't to say I had any huge revelations...)
Regardless... Roppongi has a ton of night clubs. So you end up with crazy English/Japanese night club mash-ups like this:
And... in Roppongi... I ran into what I can only imagine were Tokyo drag queens posing on the steps. Lemme tell you... I LOVE me some drag queens! What a pleasant surprise! Well done!
Other things that you see while walking around Roppongi? The Japanese love them some fake food. And you know what? Me too! I found all of the fake food to pretty helpful in deciphering the non-English menus.
In addition to the fake food, there are also an incredible number of *vending* machines everywhere in Japan. They're so noticeable a) because they're everywhere but also b) because they're so pretty! And well-lit! I'm such a sucker for well-lit. Something I'm sure that's been the subject of some study as I always make a bee-line for the the lit-up shelves in CVS back home as well.
Honestly though, lookit how pretty!
I mean. Honestly. Even the smokes look pretty!
Also in Roppongi, is this view of the Tokyo Tower:
And... finally... I leave this picture as the last one because I think it would be really crass to devote a whole blog entry to it the way that I really want to.
There's no classy way to talk about this... but honestly a trip to Japan can't be done without making mention of the country's love of the.... ahem... let's say... advanced... toilet. These things were everywhere and it probably took me the entire two weeks I was there to get brave enough to push a button.
The quote-unquote advanced toilet, is also in stark contrast to the ... let's say... unadvanced toilet.
But here's a close up of the controls on one of the more advanced toilets I came across.
You enter the Nanzen-ji temple through the Sanmon (Triple Gate), the classic "gateless" gate of Zen Buddhism that symbolizes entrance into the most sacred part of the temple precincts. The grand wooden structure was built in 1628 by Todo Takatora in memory of those who died in the civil war.
What's so cool is that they let you climb up into the gate and onto the balcony. There are absolutely amazing views of Kyoto from up there.
What they don't tell you. And honestly I didn't see it in any of the online guides that I just looked through... is that the steps up to the balcony are FRIKKEN STEEP. And large. Large steps. Like, towards the top, it was like climbing something at the incline of a ladder with giant wooden steps that were about the length of my shin.
And I'm a pretty tall Westerner.
I have no idea how the people who weren't 5'9" were doing it, because honestly on the way down, I was like sitting on a step, going down, sitting on a step, going down, etc.
The steps were a little deceptive too. They started out pretty normally. Smooth and wooden, from. You know. Having been climbed on since like the 12th century or whatever. Oh. And you have to do it while holding onto a plastic bag containing your shoes because you're not supposed to wear shoes in there.
Once you get up there view IS INCREDIBLE.
Take a look.
Boston-based marketing & #intranet guru-ish, community organizer and mayor of the #MBTA orange line. All opinions are my own.