Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Mom, I'd like you to meet...

My mom is in town this week. Though it was a pre-planned visit, her trip coincides with my attempt to overcome whatever post-viral syndrome I have. In case you're not one of the 100 people I whined to, I got sick in July from dehydration and have not been the same ever since. Every time I think I'm getting back to my idea of normal, I have some kind of setback. Last week, I visited the white porcelain god. I have no idea why I felt the need to hurl. And the next night, I felt something similar and ended up falling asleep on my back, sprawled across the bathroom floor. At least I think I slept, not passed out. No worries, I lay there for only half an hour. Now I'm riddled with leg and neck aches and have to reintroduce heavier foods to my belly. Let me just take a moment to vent: I F***IN' HATE PHOENIX SUMMER WEATHER!! I think World Cup players have shown soccer balls more kindness than the climate here has to me. I've already seen my doctor here twice and there's not much more she can say than "drink plenty of fluids." And I know this sounds silly, but when I come back to visit in October for my high school reunion, I plan to go see a doctor at the Sunnyvale clinic, as though being a Sunnyvale doctor will automatically make a physician more comforting in my eyes. Well, I hope by the end of October, I'll be healthy and able to handle the junk food I like.

It's been kind of neat showing my mom what a typical work week is like for me, what my "Phoenix life" is like. On Monday, I showed her our new bureau -- though we haven't moved in yet. I was going to take her into our current office to introduce her to a couple of people, but then I remembered one of our off-color sports writers was in there and our broadcast reporter who typically yells out curse-word laden tirades. So, I changed my mind. The next day, Barb, our accounts payable person, asked me what Mom was doing to amuse herself. I said she was down in the lobby reading since I got to work. Some others, including my boss, overheard. They were worried that Mom was bored out of her mind. Despite my saying, "She's getting oxygen; she's fine," they thought I should urge her to go somewhere. Anyway, since they now knew Mom was in the building, I think they thought I was trying to hide her or something. So after we ate lunch, I brought Ma up to meet everyone. But I made sure to coach her first (i.e. Do NOT start any sentence with "When Terry was little..."). It's kind of funny; you think that elementary school is the last time you do the open-house thing with your parents. But turns out, that's not always the case. I felt like that again--showing Mom my desk, my computer, some of the things I enter, etc. And instead of meeting my teacher, she met my boss, Ed.

Mom's journey into my world continued after work that same day. I took her to the homeless shelter where I spend most of my Tuesday evenings reading to children whose families live on the premises. Hehe, all the regular volunteers who know me all started their intros to Mom the same way: "I thought she was your mom but I didn't want to assume..." I should've scared them and said, "What? You think just because we're the only two Asians in the room, we must be related?!" And some of them recognized her from when they flipped through my camera a few weeks back and saw pics from my free ice cream party.

I was so happy later on. One of my favorite girls, Hannah, 5, showed up for the first time in weeks. I thought she and her mom had moved on or found housing. Hannah is just really cute and bossy in that adorable way that only little girls can get away with. Mom and I shared blanket space with her and took turns reading books to Hannah. I told Mom beforehand that a lot of the kids here are extremely cute and she ended up agreeing with me. So, my mother is the first person to really get a glimpse of how I spend my time. I found it's really fun to share things like that with someone.

Mom is only sorry that she didn't get to meet my co-worker Jacques. He's on vacation in Italy. He is also a character who makes work pretty interesting for me. I had no idea that we'd get along so well. Jacques is currently fixated by this series of filmed vignettes chronicling the life of Chad Vader, Darth Vader's underachieving younger brother who is the day manager at a grocery store. It's pretty amusing--at least Episode 1 is. These episodes were made for some film competition by some guys in Wisconsin and have found fame on YouTube. Anyway, Jacques currently likes to address me as "Commander Tang" and Ed as "Emperor." If any of you are curious, it's a total trip into geekdom.

Chad Vader: Episode I

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sunday morning of Labor Day weekend, we walked the streets of downtown Bisbee and made it in time for the tail end (pun intended) of the pet parade. Posted by Picasa

We passed by this bar that's by the border, on the Arizona side. It was quite hetero actually. Posted by Picasa

Sandy and I also checked out this fully operational RV-turned-diner. Dot's Diner sits in a trailer park where you can rent out a renovated RV for your stay. Pretty cool and anachronistic. Posted by Picasa

Back when it was a mining town, I guess Bisbee also had other old-fashioned activities going on. Posted by Picasa

A little sticker that pretty much captures Bisbee's hippie spirit. Posted by Picasa

Busy little Bisbee

I can't not talk about my mini Labor Day weekend break spent in the town of Bisbee. An old mining town, a lot of hippies and artists started moving there in the '80s turning the place into something trendy. I've never been anywhere quite like it. It's up in the canyons, so everywhere is elevated and lots of stairs to get to the residences farther up. I felt like I had walked onto the set of a quirky, small-town dramedy. All we needed was people talking fast like they do on "Gilmore Girls."

First off, when Sandy and I got to our hotel, the Bisbee Grand, we had to check in at the "saloon." Every bar there is called the saloon. But no, there are not men in chaps. Though some guys do wear a cowboy hat. Our room was the total opposite--lots of perfumey, Victorian goodness. I thought a flower shop had exploded all over the wallpaper.

Downtown Bisbee is like a grid--more like gridlet--of four streets. Lots of art galleries. And among all the galleries, there's a small general store and lots of vintage stores that sell old junk. Think your grandparents' attic multiplied 10 times. I saw a toy store where you can buy Castle Greyskull, Snake Mountain or that old Fisher Price phone with a face that you could pull everywhere--I used to have one of those. There's also a store run by "The Killer Bee Guy," who specializes in removing hives and making honey butter in various flavors--rum, orange chocolate, mustard, truffle. I bought blueberries and cream.

I saw several old hippies and people smoking handrolled cigarettes. That weekend, they closed down one tiny street called the Gulch to have a myriad of events: a pet parade--which went on despite the rain. All these people dressed up their dogs, cats and even pony. One dog had butterfly wings on, poor thing. And some guy was passing out popsicles to everyone. There was also a chili cook-off and a watermelon triathalon (sorry to say, I missed that). A new friend of ours, Jonathan who is a reporter for the Bisbee Review, and Ted, an editor for a bigger paper nearby, showed us around. Jonathan, who has lived in Bisbee for the past six months, said his first assignment was to cover "Pie Day." A small group of people decided to celebrate Pie Day, 3-14, by having a pie fight. They bought 20 pies and the whole thing lasted a few minutes.

Bisbee is actually made up of three areas: Old Bisbee, and the village communities of Lowell and Warren. Lowell barely qualifies as a village. It's business area is 10 storefronts, all deserted except for a organic grocery co-op and the Bisbee Breakfast Club, which serves really good eats. Bisbee is really close to the border town of Naco, which straddles both Arizona and Mexico. Sometimes they have cross-border interaction through baseball games. Jonathan said some people used to have border volleyball games--you hit the ball from one side of the border to the other. I wonder if border patrol would allow that now?

All in all, I recommend visiting Bisbee at least once just for the pure novelty. Plus, you could run into Dog-Cat-Mouse guy!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Waiting for Goudeau

I'm sure the five people who read this thing have been waiting in suspense for a new entry. Speaking of living in suspense, yesterday was a Krazy day in the office. Late Wednesday night, Phoenix PD announced an arrest of man who they say is forensically linked to two sexual assaults that police classified as crimes committed by the Baseline Killer.

The Baseline Killer is a man, described as African American or Hispanic, who is accused of a slew of robberies, sexual assaults and homicides that occurred in the past year. He inherited the Baseline moniker because the first few crimes began along Baseline Road, which is in south Phoenix. Supposedly he has worn a wig, dreadlocks, a fisherman's hat and/or a Halloween mask. And best of all, judging by a map of where all his crimes happened, I am centrally located in the territory he's covered. Anyway, the suspect police arrested is named Mark Goudeau. After comparing him to the composite sketch, one could argue there is a resemblance. But then again, a reporter in the office says a guy that works at Honey Bear's BBQ down the street looks like the Baseline Killer. More importantly, I don't think people can necessarily go out walking at night now. I think they have yet to link this guy to the homicides and sexual assaults that are strongly connected by forensic evidence, but not connected to these sexual assaults he's charged with.

So, the reason I'm writing about this is because...guess who got sent to sit outside his house in the hot sun waiting for a family member to come out and be willing to talk to the media? Good thing I had my umbrella. With no sunscreen, I had to shield myself somehow. Oh, and it turns out this guy lives not far from me. Three blocks and a few streets southward. Must be Kismet. Stake-out situations like this are when one questions one's career choice. Whether you're a cameraman or print journalist, you're living and dying for those hours for any glimpse of a subject. You feel like a vulture trying to get a scrap of meat. Luckily, after two hours, my boss gave me the okay to come back.

I should be talking about more upbeat subjects. I spent Labor Day Weekend in Bisbee, an old mining town south of Tucson--which makes it very south of Phoenix. Now it's this artsy, hippy place. I swear I felt like I was on the set of some quirky, small-town dramedy a la "Northern Exposure." It would take a whole other entry to explain. So, I'll save it for the weekend and post pictures.