Life in the End Times

Shin's gift to Annie on their One Year Anniversary

August 31 Catchup

Filed under: Just Writing — Annie at 11:32 pm on Thursday, August 31, 2006

School is officially over for me as of Wednesday (I’ll finally get my degree in the mail). I’ve never been happier about any graduation ceremony in my life. I’m adjusting to the sudden mental, and time-related freedom. Already I made the mistake of drifting down to Orange County, only to forget that I had a tutoring appointment this afternoon! In general though, going to the OC does that to me… I feel such leisure, and nostalgia there that I forget about my real life obligations. Couple that with the belief that my biggest task is complete! As I write this I have such an urging to watch an unhibited stream of television (at last!)

I went down to Irvine last night and spent the night at my mom and dad’s house for two reasons. The first was to get a copy of my birth certificate. Initially I made the mistake of going to the LA clerk-recorder’s office. Then the lady at the desk asked me, “Where’s Garden Grove?” I thought she was verifying that the registrant was really me but then she coolly said, “Why are you here? You gotta go to Orange County for your birth certificate.” The second reason was to take Shin to his boss’ house in Irvine. They needed to leave early the next morning and head down to San Diego to set up one of the shops.

My mom waited up for me and my sister around 11pm and we talked a bit. The next morning I woke up around 8:30 and started watching Gone With the Wind while eating mom’s homecooking for the first time in months. I was surprised to find that her food tasted unfamiliar to me at first. I knew the movie was long but I thought it would be a nice summation after my American History course.

My second time watching it and I came to the conclusion that one of the major themes was of human vice, while at the same time, idealizing certain aspect of the old South. But come to think of it, all the negative depictions of character were held by white people, and none by the Blacks, as though to say that there were far worse traits than being a slave owner. After finishing the movie I felt icky with emotional residue. The trauma of war, the loss of a happy past, the death of soldiers, Scarlet’s conniving behavior, and the lovesick Rhett, took a despairing toll.

Sad things make me sad.

So, midway through the movie, my brother and I went out on errands. I took him to Wamu to open an account, but it turned out, he needs my parents to open it for him because he’s underage. Then, on the same street we went to the new OC clerk-recorders office for a birth certificate. Unlike the LA branch, that takes 15 working days to mail out the document, this place got a fax of my records from the main branch and then printed and sealed it on the spot! *jaw drop* Then we hit the post office, less than a mile away, and submitted a passport application with the birth certificate. Everything went so smoothly and uncomplicated. I was impressed.

My most recent passport, under my maiden name got stolen 2 years ago when I went to Mexico with my church. We had had a safe and “successful” trip all along and stopped at the border to eat tacos before departing. 15 minutes later we got back in our cars when one of the girls screamed that her purse was missing, then another said the same. Then we stepped out of the car and noticed that the locks on the trunk of the suburban were completely pried out. Gone in 900 seconds

So the reason I’m getting all this done is because my Auntie (on Shin’s side) told us about an opportunity to teach English and computers in Paraguay. They require atleast a one year commitment. The Aunt was going to tell us about it before but I had gotten pregnant. But after the miscarriage, she mentioned it, as well as a lot of our family members giving us ideas on what we should do next, including working at my father-in-law’s company.

Luckily, Shin’s parents and we talked over the idea of working at Bega and Shin let them know it wasn’t in our plans. Then our parents said it was moreso a suggestion, and based on the company’s needs, not really a family obligation that they demanded we fill. There are so many things up in the air right now. Shin knows definitely where he’s going. But I have to admit, my heart is pointing towards Paraguay. We’re not quite on the same page but trying to get there.

The miscarriage had a strange impact on our plans and timing. While pregnant we were secure about the future, but with the miscarriage we were suddenly faced with a huge, 9 month, gap in the schedule. If it hadn’t been for that, I wonder if we’d have considered any sort of change of that duration.

The Christmas Bag

Filed under: Adventure Stories — Annie at 3:01 pm on Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I was cleaning the house today when I decided to put my extra shoes into storage. I took them out on the porch and put them into a rolling, plastic cart. Then, I opened the closet door to make room for the cart to go in. I began pulling out extraneous things, like the canvas bag with the fake Christmas tree, which I leaned upright against the door. I was stacking some extra fire logs into one of the empty bins when I heard and saw some movement in the top of the christmas tree bag. It was the slightest stirring, as though gravity were making the plastic needles shift so I continued what I was doing. Then, at the bottom of the closet I saw the dry, black evidence that a rodent was present.

I turned and looked at the bag again. It wasn’t moving. I pushed the bulky thing over and let it drop to the ground. Then, with my broom I started tapping the bag here and there, testing my suspicion that something was in there. I was terrified of the possibilities of what might be in there and how many. The thoughts that ran through my head were, a mouse, a rat, a squirrel, a cat, a big nest of spiders that were going to ooze out by the thousands any second. But it was beginning to look like nothing. How silly I must have looked, poking it like it was a big carcass. As I got braver, my senses returned and I started tapping the bag from the bottom- up towards the opening. I was ready to confirm it was all in my head when-

OUT popped a fat, grayish mouse and scampered behind some picture frames. For a few, short seconds I wailed like a high-pitched siren, aaaAAAHHHHAAAaaaa!!!!! I had an instant flash back to all those cartoons with large, buxom women in the kitchen holding a broom and screaming over a mouse. I really would have jumped on top of a box if I had one. I feared it would make a run for my feet, and, in desperation, crawl up my toes and legs.

Now I had to make a decision. I had pulled several items out of the closet. I could ignore the mouse, put everything back, and let it resume living in the christmas tree bag (boy, wouldn’t that make a surprising present come Christmas time.) Or, I could commit to cleaning out the closet and throw out all the materials it could potentially use to build its nest. Or, I could catch it, and direct it outside, although, I’m not sure how effective that would be. But I definitely didn’t want to poison, or use a trap, or carry out its mutilated, stinky, half-eaten-by-ants carcass. I preferred it walk out by itself.

I leaned on my broom for a long time, staring inside, unsure what to do. I started pulling out the things leaning against the wall, like picture frames. I was trying to eliminate it’s hiding places one by one when the mouse came running out again from one corner into the other far corner behind the paint cans. I started conceiving a plan:

I could take the wire, hardware cloth and solder it into a humane, mousetrap container. Nah, that’ll take too long. Oh, I could use this long cardboard tube, and make it it run into there, and point the other end outside. Who knows if it’ll go in there in the first place, and wait- that means it’s gonna come straight at me! I know! I could stand in the closet with the door open a crack, and start rattling things until it escapes out the door. Stand in the dark in there? No way. Wait, how did it get in? Maybe there’s a hole back there that leads… oh no! not into the house?!!! Only one way to know how it got in…

I started making room on the shelf so I could start stacking the paint cans off the floor. Now, spiders were surprisingly the least of my concerns. There were about 8 paintcans. I had gotten three off the floor, when the mouse came directly into the open and, it was surprisingly slow, as it debated where to go. I think we were both stunned and awkward. It exited past me and out the doorway back towards the Christmas Bag, which thankfully, was already upright. I never spotted it after that. But I shut the closet door. Where was a mouse predator when you needed one?

I’m trembling from head to toe and sweaty from earlier housecleaning. My heartbeat is still uppity at the slightest noise, even a fly. I thought it would be comic if the mouse had run right back into into the bag, and then I, assuming it was gone, put the bag right back in the closet. After that episode of Ann and Jerry, I can see a 2″ inch high gap all along the bottom of the door for it to come back “home”. Either way, I think the mouse got the last laugh.

Bike Log

Filed under: Adventure Stories — Annie at 8:01 pm on Saturday, August 12, 2006

Places we’ve ridden:

Wednesday, August 9
Home to Bike Shop for tuneup 1.6 mi
Neighborhood Ride 1 mi

Thursday, August 10
Home to Marina Del Rey for concert 5.4 mi

Saturday, August 12
Home to Trader Joe’s 1.7 mi
Trader Joe’s to Bike Shop 1.8 mi
Bike Shop to Home 1.6 mi
Home to Blockbuster in Westchester 3.6 mi

Odd Fruits

Filed under: Married Life — Annie at 1:39 pm on Thursday, August 10, 2006

After being married, I started noticing some quirks surrounding our fruit-eating habits. There are times when we eat things up very quickly, and other times when a whole bulk of fruit goes bad without being noticed.

Reinforced, as if by superstition, I began buying fruits in odd numbers.

So far, we’ve had better “luck” eating everything. A few days ago I went to the market with my mother-in-law. She noticed I was only picking up odd numbers and said, “Oh, you should get even-numbered fruits, so you and Shin can each eat 2 or 3.” And I explained to her that we eat it all when they’re odd. She chuckled, but said she understood.

I’d never verbally explore why I do that, although Shin noticed I was doing that. So I brought that statement up with him and this was my theory:

The reason why we eat all of the odd-numbered amounts of fruit is because odd numbers create tension. That tension is what makes the fruit linger in my subconscious and so I remember to serve it. Whereas, an even number makes you feel completion/peace, so you put it away and forget about it.

Also, there’s an element of feeling like there’s not enough when it’s odd numbered. So you look forward to the next batch and eat it up.

Two Bicycles

Filed under: Extraordinary Days — Annie at 12:43 pm on Thursday, August 10, 2006

Around 6 months ago Shin and I talked about bike-riding. We live in a great neighborhood for bicycling with the ocean a few miles west, santa monica a few miles north. But there was some hesitation about committing to something that might potentially be unused, like exercise machines or game systems. Not just one potential hulk of metal, but two- So we waited…

Then I got pregnant and our thoughts were naturally put on hold. But after my pregnancy went away I had a renewed, and stronger, desire to ride. For a couple days straight I dreamt that I was coasting down the street with fresh wind in my face (and no bugs flying into my eye!).

So I got to work doing bike research. Shin had a budget of no more than $200 for two bikes including locks. Neither of us was looking for a great bike. Just a decent one with multiple gears and handbrakes I guess. Sports Chalet, Target, Big 5, Toys R Us had some decent ones for around$99, but including tax and locks it would go over our budget. In the meanwhile I was looking on craigslist too.

I found a great men’s bike on craigslist and spoke to the guy and arranged to go with Shin to see it, but that morning Shin had to deal with a work issue so we were officially late. When I called the guy to let him know, he had invited someone else to see it at the same time to “see who wanted it more” (what the heck?!) He said he hadn’t intended to make it competitive pricing. That situation could have resulted in some ugliness.

Monday evening I spotted two women’s bikes on craigslist and emailed them both immediately. One lady contacted me and we arranged a 10AM meeting in Torrance, which is just a few miles from my parents-in-law’s house. The bike was almost brand new, but aged from being outside. There was some rust around the handlebars but the paint job was still brand new, the gears were Shimano, the tires still had those little spiky things from scarce usage. She even had the owners manual. All for $60. It was a definite keeper. I was so happy.

Afterwards I called my mother-in-law since I was in the neighborhood. She invited me over to have some tea. I ended up accompanying her on her errands. It was fun and we talked about some important issues and insignificant stuff. My father-in-law called and heard I was with her. When she told him I bought a bike, he told her he had a men’s bike, so don’t buy another. So, somehow in one day, I came home with two bikes instead of one! It was definitely under budget. It leaves us with enough for two good locks.

We bought a bike pump and took a ride in the neighborhoods… it was really great. I’m so thankful that God provided! I’m taking Shin’s bike in today for a tuneup.

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