Strange airplane habits

I’m back on a plane today headed down to Fort Lauderdale for a client meeting, and I was lucky enough to get upgraded again on both legs to first class. As I sat down in my aisle seat on my first leg, the man sitting next to me in the window seat takes out a bunch of antibacterial wipes and begins wiping down the arm rests, the fold out cup holders, and tables. Then, he neatly wraps the wipes into a tiny little square and sets it on his arm rest. Just a little bit of a germaphobe, hm? When he got his two bags of apple chips during snack service, he ate each bag and folded both bags into the teeniest, tiniest little squares. It was like he was doing origami with them.

In three of the last four flights I’ve been on, I’ve sat next to a drunkard or soda addict. During my leg from JFK to DFW en route to Salt Lake City in first class, the man sitting next to me drank at least seven diet Cokes during a 4.5-hour-long flight (I really don’t think they’d give you that many sodas in economy). After the fourth one, he kept insisting each time that “this will really be the last one!” to the flight attendant, who simply smiled and said, “No problem!” each time. Another man showed his enjoyment of whiskey cokes by ordering four in a short flight. And today during a two-hour-long flight from Charlotte to Fort Lauderdale, the woman next to me drank four vodka sodas. They either use alcohol to cope with flying, or they are just drunkards.

What are the strange things I do on flights? I always wrap my leg up in blankets, even if I am wearing pants. Chris thinks this is really weird. I just always like to be warmer, especially when most airplanes will blast the air. If I am on a flight where I know I am getting back to my destination late, I will take my face wash, floss, and toothbrush and toothpaste into the airplane bathroom and wash my face, floss, and brush my teeth. Or if I have lounge access when Chris is with me, I will take care of all those things there before boarding the flight. This way when I get home, I can just drop all my stuff (well, more realistically, empty out all my bags because I am anal like that), sleep, and not worry about cleaning myself up for bed.

Utah – beautiful scenery, not so beautiful food

When we first talked about this Utah trip, we knew that we were coming here mainly to see the national parks and enjoy nature. Food would not be a priority at all, much to my great disappointment. After doing some cursory research on foods that Utah is known for, particularly around the southern portion of the state where we’d spend the majority of our time, we decided that this would probably be the only trip we will have ever taken where we weren’t going to get excited about the food at all.

I looked up Utah’s “famous foods,” and these were some of the items that came up on the list: “funeral potatoes,” or creamy potato, canned soup, cheese, and crushed corn flake casserole, which Mormon wives typically serve during post-funeral grieving (yum!), Jell-O, particularly the green colored kind (what the hell kind of state gets excited about eating Jell-O, especially the GREEN COLORED ONE?!), pastrami burgers (Chris’s response: “I can sh*t out better food than that”), and “Utah scones,” which are not your typical British scones… they are simply huge fried pieces of dough covered in honey and sugar. This list was enough to make me decide that we were pretty much going to eat cheap fast food and eat just to live, not eat to enjoy.

Our first meal in Kanab where we’d be spending two nights, we ate at the worst “Mexican” restaurant I’d ever been to. We had generic enchiladas and a burrito that had no flavor; in fact, they both tasted pretty much the same – bland, boring, and probably mostly of canned and non-fresh ingredients. The wait staff moved at the rate of snails, and their enthusiasm was nonexistent. The only redeeming quality was that the food came out extremely hot. That’s a sad redeeming quality.

For dinner our first night after hiking Zion the first day, we ate… McDonald’s. Chris had chicken McNuggets while I had my guilty pleasure sausage egg McMuffin with a hash brown (one interesting tidbit is that in the evenings, McDonald’s, at least at this location, makes all the breakfast items to order. I actually had to wait about 15 minutes for my sausage egg McMuffin and my hash brown, which has never, ever happened before). At Bryce, we had a decent turkey burger and salmon burger at their lodge. The place was reasonably priced and of decent quality. I’m sure the patties were pre-formed, but it’s not like we were expecting gourmet food. That evening, we had generic pizza from a random spot a block away from our hotel. It was sausage and mushroom, so it couldn’t have been that bad – at least there were no surprises. Finally, our last full day, we ate at a reasonable Mexican spot in Springdale just outside of Zion and had dinner at the Copper Onion, an up and coming restaurant in downtown Salt Lake City. The Copper Onion meal was the most notable, with house-made tortellini and fettuccine and a wagyu beef bone marrow. One funny thing was that the menu noted every item that used Maldon salt, the famous and high quality British salt I often read about. Maldon salt came with the bone marrow, which was a pretty and tasty touch, but there was no jam or gelee to cut the richness of the marrow, which was a bit of a fail. The food at both places was not the best and was pretty good, but we’ve certainly had better quality food in many other cities. We ended the trip with a last lunch at In’N’Out – probably our favorite meal of the entire trip. Too bad there wasn’t an In’N’Out in the town of Kanab.

Angel’s Landing and Scout Lookout

We originally wanted to hike to Angel’s Landing, but when we realized that the most treacherous part of the hike only had a rock that was about two feet wide with a chain in the middle, we both decided that it wouldn’t be the best idea for either of us. The park keeps track of the number of people who fall to their deaths. On the day before we were there, one man broke his ankle on the Angel’s Landing and had to be helicoptered down. We both had only regular sneakers, no hiking boots, and I also brought a backpack that was too heavy with our layers (sometimes, coming over prepared doesn’t really help in the long run. Chris suffered while carrying the heavy backpack going up the strenuous path up to Scout Lookout). We ended up hiking to the Scout Lookout just a half mile away from Angel’s Landing, but there was actually a long queue – about 40 minutes-wait – to climb up to the Angel’s Landing portion of the hike to get the priceless view of Zion!

We talked about people’s levels of fear regarding heights. We’re both probably in the middle when it comes to extreme fear and total lack of care of heights. Maybe mine is slightly less than Chris’s because I’ve done more hiking and rock scrambling than he has. Either way, he suggested that since we’re probably not coming back for a long time that if i want to go to the very end, he’d wait for me at Scout’s Lookout while I joined the line to hike to Angel’s Landing. I thought about it for a minute and decided against it.

I don’t want to just hike these trails just to do them and check them off my list. I want them to be shared experiences, so if he can’t go with me, then a big part of me doesn’t want to go at all. I want to look back on all these experiences and know we did them together. And even if I did do it, what… I’d have a photo of myself on Angel’s Landing, and he wouldn’t even be in it and would have had to wait an hour for me to get through and back. I’d always look back on this trip and remember I did it without him, which would always make me feel sad. That’s not a memory I want; that’s no fun to me. We’re in this together until the end.

Bryce Canyon

Today, we spent 11 hours hiking exploring Bryce Canyon National Park. I was surprised to see that it wasn’t very crowded at all, especially since it’s noted as one of the top two national parks tourists visit when coming to Utah. Bryce Canyon is most notable for its huge natural amphitheaters filled with endless hoodoos, which are strange long pointed geological structures shaped like deformed sticks or spires (or what Chris thinks look like upright penises with multiple cock rings). What is so striking about the hoodoos and the overall park is how the colors seem to change on the hoodoos depending on the angle you are looking at them from, and what time of day it is. We didn’t get to see the glowing oranges during sunrise or sunset, but as we walked around the amphitheaters during a blue sky vs. a grey sky, the colors looked very different depending on the sky and the angle of the view. The shades of orange, yellow, red, pink, and purple were at times more intense and at others, more subtle and nuanced. Some areas of Bryce Canyon resembled the Grand Canyon, while others clearly were a land of their own. I even overheard some other tourists say that Bryce Canyon “makes the Grand Canyon seem so boring!” I wouldn’t ever call the Grand Canyon colors and rock formations boring, but I completely understand why someone would say that after seeing Bryce’s endless hoodoos. They really do look as though they go on and on forever, and as far as the eye can see.

After 11 hours of hiking, our bodies were filled with the crisp and lush fresh air from the canyon, while our shoes and pants (and somehow, even my stud earrings) were covered in red sand and dust. I think we’ve set a record for the most number of steps done in a day on our Fitbits — over 35K miles and over 13.5 miles.

U.S. national park system

As an American, I am often embarrassed about a lot regarding this country — how little Americans know about and travel the rest of the world, our disastrous and disgustingly expensive (and ineffective) healthcare system, our lack of gun control and restrictions, our general prioritization of business and profit over actual lives, our high infant mortality rates and low competency levels for K-12 schools. As strange as it sounds, I think one of the things that makes me proudest of this country is all the beautiful and varied land we have here, particularly our national park system, which is so well maintained and full of diverse growth, rock formations, and bodies of water.

During this trip to Utah, we’re primarily here to visit Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park, two very different parks in southern Utah that I didn’t even learn about until about four years ago when reading about the national park system and Utah specifically. Odd “hoodoo” rock formations shaped like pillars are all over Bryce Canyon, and because they are all grouped together over a large panoramic view in a canyon, in some ways, they almost make even more famous parks like the Grand Canyon seem plain. Zion kind of sounds like its name, some biblical paradise that has gorgeous red, yellow, pink, and purple rock formations with a sea of green plants and trees everywhere. Both parks have hikes of varying intensity, and we’re planning to do as much as possible to enjoy our condensed time here.

When I visit places like Zion or Rocky Mountain National Park, which we visited in November 2012, I feel sad for people who think there’s not much to see in the U.S. other than the cities and states along our east and west coasts. So much exists in this country that makes it unique and beautiful that we should be proud of and appreciate. These places are so stunning that all I can really think when I see them is… wow. The photos never give a full portrayal of the vastness of these places. Being there in person is what is so awe-inspiring. It’s just little us in these big, big parks and even larger world.

There are 58 national parks in the U.S. I wonder how many of them we will be able to see in our lifetime, if not all of them.


Chris and I got separated on our connecting flight to Salt Lake City this evening, as he got the last seat in First Class. So I sat next to a woman who is the president of the American Paint Horse Association, born and raised in a suburb outside of Tennessee. She and her husband live on a farm, breed horses, and are obsessed with corgi dogs. She showed me her endless photos of her friend breeding corgi dogs and told me a thing or two about American paint horses, which I knew nada about. She asked me if Chris and I were a couple, and I said we just got married this past March.

“Can I ask you something since you’re a Northerner?” she asked me in her strong Southern accent. I had a feeling this wasn’t going to be a great question, but I answered affirmatively. “Down here in the South, we have strong family values. So when we say ‘I do,’ we mean it forever, until the end. Up in the North, is that what you believe, or do you just think, ‘I do until something bad happens and I can’t take it anymore?'”

I explained to her that everyone was different, that we couldn’t categorize people in the North thinking “until the next bad thing happens” vs. “until death do us part,” but for the two of us, we were in it for the long haul (at least, I think we are).

“Well, that is lovely!” she exclaimed, smiling warmly. I really don’t think she meant any offense by it. She probably hasn’t spent much time interacting with us folk “in the North.” She proceeded to ask me how old I was. I told her I was 30, and she responded, “Wow, so you would have been working for eight years until getting married!”

I paused for a second. “Well, I’m actually still going to continue working. I haven’t quit my job… and I don’t plan to just because I’m married,” I said to her, looking her firmly in the eye.

“You will still continue working?” she said in amazement. “Wow, times have really changed since I got married!”

Yes, they certainly have… at least, for some of us.

“Toothless pregnant woman”

I hate visiting the dentist. There’s really no health appointment I dread more. I might have even said this on this blog before, but I would truly rather have ten pap smears back to back than have two dental cleanings a year. There’s nothing worse than having sharp instruments prodded in your mouth with air and water pointy things going everywhere. It’s the worst when you have sensitive teeth and just want the torture to end.

The dentist is not happy with me because I still haven’t had my loose baby tooth extracted. His wife, who is also a dentist but now runs the front desk and does all the paperwork, said to me, “Are you planning to have children soon? You know you cannot have an implant done when you are pregnant, right? You don’t want to be a toothless pregnant woman, do you?”

I’m so good and anal with dental hygiene, but genes tend to trump hygiene in these cases. I can’t help that I was born without two adult teeth and needed to keep these two baby teeth for as long as possible.


My mom is wallowing in the post wedding period, grieving the fact that her daughter is now officially married off and part of another family. That sounds very gendered to say that the daughter gets “married off,” but hey, wouldn’t you want to be married off into another family if your family were as dysfunctional as mine? I’d say that for a guy or a gal.

She finally launched in a tirade against my mum-in-law, stating that she’s a cheap, ill-mannered “statue” who has no emotions and doesn’t want to spend a dime on me, and apparently wants to take me for everything I’m worth every time I see her. The assumption here is that every time I see my in-laws that they “force” me to pay for everything. This really couldn’t be any further from the truth. She’s angry that the last two times she’s had meals with my in-laws that they didn’t pay the bill. Well, they never had the chance to because my mom instructed my dad to secretly pre-pay the bill while pretending to go to the restroom. No one even gets to see the bill. So, she’s angry she’s paid, yet she never gave them the chance to pay. She created a no-win situation and has made herself out to be a “victim.”

There are a lot of stupid things about Chinese culture, but one of the dumbest and most frustrating ‘traditions’ is fighting over the bill at the end of a meal. My mom is short-sighted and has no knowledge of any culture outside of her own and my dad’s, but she doesn’t realize that people do not do this in every other culture; it looks embarrassing for people on the outside, and it’s just a ridiculous act. If you want to pay the bill, pay the bill. If you don’t want to pay the bill, then don’t. It’s really that simple. Don’t pay the bill and then get angry about paying it later. Also, don’t pay the bill and just “expect” the other person to pay the bill the next time. You’ll probably be disappointed. None of this does anyone any good. She made herself into a ‘victim’ when there’s no victims in this situation.

This reminds me of the time when years ago, my mom made a black friend in her JW congregation. She gave this friend a gift. The friend was happy and said thank you, then proceeded to open the gift in front of her. My mom was angrier than angry. She came home and yelled about it, saying this person had no manners and embarrassed her. I explained to her that in Asian culture, you typically don’t open the gift in front of the giver, but in Western culture, many people do this. She ignored me, insisted I was defending this friend, and said I was wrong. Well, the same thing happened in this case with my mother-in-law. She’s always right. Everyone else is always wrong.

I don’t know how anyone gets enough energy to have so much hate against everyone. I just cannot fathom it.

Mental list

As I’ve become an adult and had to deal with my parents and their foibles, I’ve realized that increasingly, my fear is that I will become just like them as parents when and if the day comes that I have my own children. As a parent, you always want to try to do your best, but the scary thing is… what if your “best” isn’t enough? Before people become parents, they often think back to the things that their own parents did that they liked and did not like and hope to replicate the good and not repeat the bad. Over the years, I’ve talked about a “mental list of things not to do when I am a parent.” I kept telling myself I would write it down and put it up somewhere to remind myself. Well, maybe I will put it up here.

  1. Don’t tell your child “one step wrong, and then everything goes wrong.” No one is perfect. We all fuck up and make mistakes. That is what you call “life.”
  2. Don’t tell your child you will do something for them and not do it. They will remember it forever.
  3. Don’t name call your child. Then, you are being childish, aren’t you?
  4. Don’t call your child stupid or an idiot. This reiterates number 3 above.
  5. Don’t hit your child with a metal fly swatter.
  6. If you end up sending your child to private school or college and paying for her tuition, when you have arguments, don’t scream at them and demand they pay every penny back to you.
  7. Don’t make your child feel guilty about having an education. Education is compulsory in every developed western society.
  8. Never tell your children that they “owe” you and the debt can never be repaid. You brought them into this world. That was your choice, wasn’t it? (well, we’d like to assume so).
  9. Don’t make up stories about your child’s life and then start accusing them that these things are true when you are angry.
  10. Don’t tell your child that you are the best parent in the world. No one is the best. No one.
  11. Don’t tell your child that every other parent is inferior, especially her in-laws once she gets married. This is just not nice. Enough said.
  12. Don’t tell your child that she is a bad daughter. Again, not nice.
  13. When a great event happens in your child’s life, don’t nitpick and scream over the tiny details that didn’t go as planned. Glass fully empty and the faucet doesn’t work, anyone?
  14. Don’t open letters/cards addressed to your child. That’s none of your business.
  15. Don’t badmouth people your child likes to her face. And don’t badmouth your spouse to your child.
  16. Don’t call your daughter a prostitute.
  17. Don’t tell your depressed child that he needs to try harder.
  18. Don’t tell your child that she should learn to ride a bike herself.
  19. Don’t call your child weak or dumb when she cries.
  20. Never tell your child that he is worthless or that no one respects him or cares about him.
  21. Don’t expect your child to spend 100 percent of her time at home with you. That’s being selfish.
  22. Don’t pay for meals for your child and get mad when she doesn’t offer to pay. Then, when she does offer and pay, get mad at her for paying. See the no-win situation here?
  23. When your child gives you gifts, don’t scoff and say it “only cost X amount — that’s just peanuts.” You are just asking for no gifts ever again.
  24. When your child points out something you do that is a flaw, don’t come back with “Well, what about you?” and point out something completely unrelated. Remember, act like an adult with your child.
  25. Don’t accuse your child of loving or liking other people more than you and your spouse.
  26. In fact, don’t accuse your child of not loving or caring about you.
  27. Don’t compare your child to his face with other children. Would you want to be compared as a parent?!
  28. Don’t demand that your child call you every single day after s/he has left home.
  29. Don’t tell your child that she lacks wisdom and that you have a lot. If you have to say it, then you don’t.
  30. Don’t assume that just because you are the parent that your child will respect you. Respect is always earned. Demanding respect doesn’t get you anywhere.

Cabrillo National Monument

This morning, Chris and I visited the Cabrillo National Monument, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean and has a really spectacular cliff walk. The cliffs have these beautiful edgings from all the erosion that has occurred over the years. The actual Cabrillo statue at the site was pretty underwhelming; we mostly came for the cliff walk/hike and the ocean scenery, which did not disappoint one bit.

As we walked around the cliffs and along the edges, I thought about how comforting it would be to live in California again, to be this close to the Pacific Ocean and see views like this every day or every weekend whenever I wanted. The smell of the ocean and the sound of waves crashing — we don’t and can’t get that in the urban jungle that is New York City. And then the idea deflated immediately when I thought about being closer to home. Being closer to home is not a comforting feeling.

And that was when I started getting vertigo and couldn’t walk along the very edge of the cliffs anymore. All I could hear was my mother in my head, yelling at me for coming to a place like this where you could easily fall over and die.