Thursday, April 14, 2005

Our guide David gave the tour an adult spin by pointing out the Bill and Monica Rock. Posted by Hello

Who'd have thought bird poop would serve as a visual aid in illustrating shifting fault lines? Posted by Hello

Sandy and I masquerading as outdoorsy types in front of the pink jeep.  Posted by Hello

Sedona rocks!!

Pardon the pun; I couldn't resist. So, I arrived back from visiting my good pal Sandy in Arizona a couple days ago. For me, it's always fun to walk the soil of another state. You find the little things surprising. Like, I forgot that in Arizona, primetime TV starts an hour earlier. I was thrown when Saturday Night Live came on at 10:30. If it were that way here, I would probably watch the show more. And still being funny would help. I also saw a liquor store near Sandy's with its own drive-thru window . And walking around downtown Tempe, a man who looked like Cooter from "Dukes of Hazzard" offered me a card with LSD.

Besides catching up with each other, Sandy, the ever excellent hostess, did all the driving and we made the trek to Sedona. Now, I never expected to encounter extreme weather changes. All I had were jeans and shorts in my luggage. Alas, a misguided decision. See, Phoenix may feel like an oven, but Sedona has an elevation of at least 3,000 feet--depending where you pull over for a photo op. Rain was coming down upon our arrival. We took a scenic drive through uptown Sedona and then along Oak Canyon Creek. We stopped at a canyon edge where Native American vendors were wrapping up their wares amid all these snow-covered pines. Soon, tiny snowflakes graced my coat, hair, eyelashes and other places that Maria Von Trapp would appreciate. But we didn't stay long because it was very, very cold. Yet, the next day, we embarked on a jeep tour at 11 a.m. in quite sunny weather. We took the Broken Arrow tour. Sandy and I shared a pink jeep (like any other car color would've been as cool)with six others--two women from Southern Cal, a couple from Australia and some other couple in their forties from somewhere in the U.S. The man in the Australian duo kept uttering wise proverbs like "The 7Ps: Prior Preparation and Planning Prevent Piss-Poor Performance" and "You're only as old as the woman you feel." Those whacky Australians.

David, our chipper guide, steered the 4x4 over very rough terrain and pointed out famous red rock phenomena such as the Twin Nuns, Snoopy Rock (it really does resemble him lying on his dog house), Mother and Child. It was a very bumpy ride. I felt quite tenderized by the end, but it was worth taking in all the landscape. Afterward, we chowed down on cactus fries and buffalo sandwiches at the Cowboy Club, where all the wait staff wear gun holsters. I definitely got a good taste of the Southwest. Afterwards, we went to the tourist office and the pop cultural nerd in me asked an elderly lady behind the counter where Lucille Ball's former home was. And she said "We don't keep track of that stuff. The movie stars and celebrities want their privacy respected." I had to fight so hard not to blurt out "Um, but she's dead." Anyone who has seen those "I Love Lucy" episodes where they are in Hollywood know that Lucy was a big advocate of celebrity house hunting. Anyway, we went on to hike on the Bell Rock trail, where I stuck to my talent of getting lost, we high-tailed it back to Phoenix.

The next day, I accompanied Sandy to Tucson to check out the University of Arizona. We strolled down 4th Ave, which is a compact-sized, slightly less bohemian version of Berkeley's Telegraph. The only store of interest was Antigone Bookstore where the target audience is lesbians. If I wasn't sure before, the life-size Xena cut-out confirmed it.

Overall, excellent mini-break. In between the sightseeing, we stayed in and I got to watch "The Best of Triumph" and "Napoleon Dynamite" (it's now on my must-own list). I will now go look at my pics and try to figure out what rock is what. I swear it's as bad as looking for constellations!

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Nothing says family like cemetary

Yesterday, I went to the all-Chinese cemetary in Colma. The group in attendance was comprised of me, Gary, my mom, Uncle Kin, Auntie Jenny, Auntie Linda and Emily. See, about twice a year in the fall and spring, families are supposed to by san or visit the gravestones of their elders and leave offerings of food, money (in the form of Hell Bank Notes) and prayers. It's actually the first weekend of the season when people come. But, since most of my mom's siblings are semi-retired or part-time workers, they decided to go on a Friday. Kinda nice not having the crowds there. Not that the cemetary is very noisy to begin with.

Of course, standing in front of my maternal grandparents' graves had us all thinking about visits past. I looked around and noticed how much smaller the group was compared to during my elementary school years. The cemetary is on a hill and my grandparents' headstones are situated right next to a concrete path that cars can take up to the next level. Hehe, I still remember when my grandma was with us. As she got older, we worried the uphill climb would be too hard for her. Once, we didn't want her to stand for too long during the entire ritual. So, Uncle Kin put his big blue cooler on the pathway for her to sit on. And we all had to take turns standing with at least one foot against it so the cooler and Grandma wouldn't go sliding down the hill. Of course, now she's there for the long-term. I wonder if she wishes more of us came. But, it's all part of the natural progression of change. I didn't go many times when I was in college and for a couple years after that. And the past two years, I've gone. These days, everyone has either moved out of proximity or they're just too busy to even consider coming. So, hopefully, more relatives will be around next time or at least if I can't come, someone else will be able to.

The adults got to rehashing things my cousins and I did when it came to paying respects. Uncle Kin recalled how several years ago at his home, some of the cousins had to pray to a little memorial--incense, oranges, the usual set-up--in front of two chairs. My cousins Tina and Randy--brother and sister--were just little kids. After the praying and offering of food, a slightly spooked Tina asked "Do you think they're still here?" (They being the ancestors). Randy: "Nah, I think they left after they ate."

Another thing I noticed gazing around the cemetary was some of the names on the headstones. I think many people sometimes just pick an English first name by writing a phonetic spelling of their Chinese name. Now, I don't mean any disrespect by snickering at some of them. But honestly, somebody--a family member, Immigration, whoever--should of told these older Chinese folk that maybe that wasn't the best way to pick a name. What really surprises me is that I forget these names by my next by san visit and it seems like I'm hearing about them for the first time. Anywho, here's a sample of what I saw:
Dip Yee (Dip might be ripe for a playground ass-kicking)
Suey Gooey Fong (Rhyming in a name is almost never a good thing)
Sitting Woo (His Chinese name is pronounced Sitting; it's not that the Chinese word for sit is his name)
Hung Tang (Um, I don't think I need to elaborate except to say he is NOT related to my family)

OK, well, now that I've managed to poke fun at some innocent, dead and elderly Chinese people, here's hoping Hell isn't waiting for me.