Pain

I had a surgery yesterday. I woke up with severe pain. It was the worst post surgery condition. I remember I was grasping the bed, screaming and crying. I could barely open my eyes. What I saw was doctors and nurses surrounded me. 

I first heard the resident doctor speak to me. The only words I heard were “went well”. Then I heard my surgeon said “I am glad to see…”. I think people select what they need to hear under certain circumstances. I was amazed I could catch the very key words from my doctors.

Then I heard the nurses were talking to me telling me they were giving me pain medicines and they should take effect soon. I remember I wiped my tears and tried to fight the pain waiting for the help from the medicines. 

They had to give me a lot medicines for the pain. The medicines made me nauseous for the rest of the day. What a terrible day!

The medical issue has been ongoing since Feb. I don’t want to be superstitious but does it really have something to do with it’s my 本命年?!

It’s almost the end of the year now. Hope this is my last surgery and it will fix my problem!

Advertisements

Who’s the president 

This is gonna make you laugh. I woke up at the recovery. The machine kept beeping. The nurse told me to deep breathe. Then she walked up to me. “I am going to ask you some questions. What year is it?” “2017” I responded and felt amused. They never asked me those questions at the last two surgery. I wonder why the machine was beeping. “Do you know where we are?” She continued. “Tufts medical center.” I was pretty sure my mind works fine and I could answer any of those questions. Then she asked “who’s the president?” Ohhh wow!! 

That’s a tough one! This could totally trigger a debate lasting longer than the surgery if the patient is on one specific side and up for it! 

Maybe it’s one of the standard questions on the list but should the list be re-visited and updated once a year or once every four years? Given all the controversies, I am afraid this question may disturb some patients. Probably not a good question to ask someone who just woke up from surgery and whose political view wasn’t clear to you. The machine may not beep before you ask the question and it may after. 

I wasn’t disturbed and I wasn’t trying to criticize the nurse. Nurses are angels and if I sound like I was criticizing my nurse I was just really amused by the question. Not personal at all. 
“Donald Trump” I said in an extremely plain way. I feel I almost ruined the moment. Such a highly entertaining figure and rich topic, all I gave was just two normal words, like “Jack Smith”. I wish I said something like “I don’t remember the name but I know he tweets a lot” or “he didn’t do a great job in PR and I hope he’s doing a great job in LV, since I am sure he knows by heart LV is part of US. Oh, what’s his name?” Sadly my wit hadn’t come back to me at that moment. 

Or, maybe I gave the right answer. If I had said any of those, she might really think something was wrong with me. Anyways, the nurse was satisfied with the answers and she turned off the beeping monitor.

Woman Power

I have been having this conversation with one of my girl friends for some time. It seems to us women sometimes are more brave and willing to take challenges than men.

We first had this idea when she was telling me about her trip to Europe with her husband. My friend is an Asian woman like myself. Her husband is a white guy born and grew up in the states. They rented a car and drove around Europe which is a new continent to both of them. They sometimes got lost in the narrow streets of some small town. The husband immediately became nervous. “I don’t know why he was so nervous. It’s no big deal we just had to turn around and find the right way. But he made it feel like there was danger every time we made the wrong turn.” 

I totally agree with her and can relate to that myself. I remember when Joe and I were in Cozumel Mexico, the same situation happened to us. We drove to a strange area which we didn’t intend to go. I was at ease and even appreciating the uniqueness of the place. Joe was quite nervous. I understood the place was definitely not one of the best neighborhoods. But it doesn’t mean we were in danger. I shared my story with my friend. For a second, we thought this might not be a woman vs man thing but an Asian immigrant vs American thing. We came to US and live in a new country so we are used to difficulties and challenges and potential dangers. Our home grown American partners are more cautious now they are away from home because they are not away from home that often. The foreign country is new to the couple but being in a foreign country is not new to the woman but only new to the man. 

As we were about to establish this theory, we realized we had some counter evidence. 

My friend’s parents came to visit the states very often. The dad always preferred to stay at home and the mom just went out by herself. There was once when the parents wanted to visit a place. The mom had to be at somewhere early in the morning. So my friend told her dad to take the T and meet the mom at one T stop. The dad refuses and insisted my friend give him a ride to meet up with the mom. “I don’t speak English and I don’t read English. What if I got off the wrong stop and I’ll get lost.” They have taken the same train and been to the same stop many times and my friend was quite confident the missing dad accident wouldn’t happen. But the dad was very nervous. “If you are busy then I don’t want to go at all. I’ll just stay at home.”

My parents don’t speak English and they don’t read English either. When they came to visit me, they would avoid flight with transit within US. There was one time they flew to NYC and I drove there to pick them up. My dad is always the one who’s very vocal about not being able to change flights within US on their own. 

I got some medical problem now and will have a serious surgery tomorrow. My mom decided to come to take care of me. Because it was a short notice, direct flight tickets were expensive. “I’ll just transfer in US. It will be fine. I’ll find my way.” My mom said that and that was really brave. We still booked a direct flight so she doesn’t have to deal with the layover. But I clearly felt my mom’s determination about coming here no matter the challenges are. 

Love makes people strong and brave. Women are filled up with love. That’s why they are more powerful sometimes. There’s a saying in China that every successful man has to have a wonderful woman at his back. I guess that is very true. 

A special experience in Peru

I love to travel. I also love to plan a trip. Doing research about the destinations and making reservations might be a burden to some people, but are a pleasure to me. The trip to Peru was an exception. My friend Diana and I were not able to find much hotel information on the internet back then. We were looking for accommodations as we go, and it was not easy.

I remember the day when Diana and I arrived at Cusco, the last city on our list. It was a little past ten at night. We had no clue where we would stay for the next two days, as the city was getting dark. We got off the bus at Plaza Mayor del Cusco where you could still see some lights shinning from the windows around the plaza, which restaurants or bars could be recognized.

Diana and I followed a map and walked through the narrow cobber stone streets leading to Plaza San Blas, where we were told would have more local hotels. We found quite a lot local inns, but they were either fully booked or closed with no one answering the door. Finally, on this quiet street, we found the place called Casa De Luna. It is a four story local inn, exactly what we were looking for. We rang the bell. A middle-aged Peruvian man opened the doors. We told him we were looking for accommodations. He welcomed us warmly and let us in. Everything was nice and clean. And they had a vacancy.

Pablo is his name. He gave us a very reasonable price and checked us in smoothly. He told us he was the “night crew” watching the hotel from 7pm to 7am. Pablo was extremely friendly. He was trying to guess our nationality, telling us his way to tell apart Chinese vs. Japanese and Korean. He told us there were a lot of Japanese visitors in Peru. He also didn’t forget to show off the only Chinese words he knew, which meant hello and thank you in English. Pablo became our first friend in Cusco.

Cusco is a wonderful city, even if it is not the gateway city to Macho Picchu, it is still worth visiting. Diana and I walked almost every corner of Cusco on the next day. When we finished all the sightseeing, it was almost 6pm. We went back to Luna for a little rest. Pablo came to his shift when we were heading out for dinner. He chatted with us asking where we visited. Then he recommended a bar/restaurant, where we had a great Peruvian dinner.

I brought my purse with me during the day, but left it in the room when we went out at night. I took some cash with me and that’s all I need for the night. When we came back from our night out, I put the cash that was left back to my purse. I didn’t have too much cash left at that point. I looked at the money in my purse, it looked like I was missing a 20 dollar bill. I counted the cash. Hmm… maybe I didn’t remember it right.

The next day was another day full of adventure. We visited several ancient sites outside Cusco, which I really liked. After dinner, we went to a bar called Mama Africa at Plaza Mayor del Cusco. It was a great place for salsa dancing and I had a wonderful time. When we came back to the hotel room, I was suddenly intrigued and immediately rushed to open my purse. I counted the cash and realized I indeed lost 20 dollars tonight.

The whole day went on in my mind like a film. I counted my cash last night, had my purse with me during the day, came back for a nap around 6pm, left room around eight for dinner, and came back around midnight after dinner and salsa dancing. Pablo’s face suddenly came to my mind. He was at the front desk waving and smiling to us when we headed out for dinner. Our best friend Pablo was the only one at Luna when I left my purse in the room.

A chill suddenly went through my body. It was only 20 dollars or at most 40 dollars. Why am I so upset? I felt deceived and betrayed. It was Pablo, the super friendly and caring host turned into a sneaky thief. The person who we trusted stole from us. He was faking the whole time. Disappointed, sad, and angry, I jumped up to my feet and told Diana “I am going to talk to Pablo.” “Don’t go now. We should go to talk to the manager in the morning. I told you to bring your purse…” I ran out of the room before Diana finished her sentence.

It was already past midnight. The lobby was dark, with only a dimmed ceiling light. I ran to the front desk. Pablo probably heard the steps and stood up when I started “Did anyone go into our room?” Pablo looked at me without expression. I continued “I left my purse in the room and found I lost 20 dollars.” Now, his face started to act. He looked shocked with his mouth opened a bit. He frowned and said “I don’t know what happened. No one went into your room.” I think he looked concerned and that didn’t feel friendly any more.

There were no guest rooms on the first floor. The first floor was mainly the lobby, the kitchen and the breakfast room. It was quiet at this time and pretty dark. I could see Pablo’s face but couldn’t read it in this darkness. I wondered, if we started to argue or fight, would anyone hear us? What if he is worse than a thief?

“If you don’t know, that’s fine. I will talk to the manager tomorrow.” I turned back and walked to the stairs. I wasn’t trying to get my money back. I wanted to tell Pablo that I knew what he did. I wanted to release my anger. Now if I did that, it might not be a wise decision to confront him at midnight by myself. I should have asked Diana to come with me.

As I walked back to the stairs, Pablo started to follow right behind me. He grabbed my left arm when I was about to walk up the stairs. “Wait, I will show you.” It was Pablo’s lowered voice. I turned around to face him as he pulled my left arm. He emptied his pockets and showed me the money. That moment felt weird. His right hand was still grabbing my left arm, his left hand holding the money to me. He was in a position like he wanted me to take his money. “That’s all the money I have. I didn’t take anything.” Did I ever accuse him of anything? Did I say he took the money?

I managed to pull my arm away from his tight grip. “OK.” I turned back towards the stairs again. Between the darkness, his grip, the cash, and his lowered voice started to make me nervous. As I was climbing up the stairs, Pablo grabbed my left arm again and this time, he was trying to put the money into my hand.

I turned around, he was in tears. I froze for a minute before he started to admit his theft. He was sobbing and speaking in a low voice, “My daughter is in the hospital and I want to buy her some gifts. I don’t have much money. This was my first time, and it was wrong, I know that now. Please don’t tell the manager, I can’t lose this job. If I lose the job, I can’t pay for my daughter’s hospital bill.” He kept sobbing and begging for forgiveness. I lost my energy. I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to end this.

I pulled a 20 dollar bill from his hand and said “OK. Don’t do it again.” He looked relieved, letting go of my arm. I turned around and ran upstairs to my room.

What happened was like a dream. The next morning, I decided to tell the manager what happened. I thought that was the right thing to do. As Diana and I walked out Luna, the manager was still investigating the situation. I heard a young girl telling the manager “He is not married and he doesn’t have a daughter”.

I used to be careless when I traveled. I easily get overly excited in a new place and tend to forget some common knowledge. People used to say when we act recklessly, we are inviting crimes and putting ourselves in danger, which can be true sometimes. Diana constantly asked me to carry my purse with me all the time just like when she did. I didn’t listen, but now I know that I should have.

Education in China

My college mates are talking on wechat about what majors they should put their children in or lead their children to or what the most popular subjects are nowadays to study. 

I am so upset about the Chinese education system. They push the smartest kids to the hottest areas no matter what their kids really want. 

Most of the children have to spend all of their free time on additional classes and parents monitored studies and homework. They don’t even get the chance to expose themselves to all the possibilities. You ask them what they like. They give you this blank look. When the time comes they need to make a decision of what they want to study, how can you expect they would have any idea other than what their parents or the society have told them. 

I went to the best university in Shanghai and studied the most popular subject at that time. Why? Because I was smart enough to get in. Really? No! I was dumb that I didn’t know what I really wanted. 

I wish I could yell to my classmates “being a truck driver is no worse than being a banker if that’s what your kids want”. Don’t make the decision for them and give them the options! If they don’t know, give them a gap year and travel and until they find out. I was able to say this to my white male boss in US but not to my old college mates in China. And I know why.

American language 

Someone was talking about American name vs. English name. Then I realized there is no American name because American is not a language. Actually there is no American language. Every language spoken in America is a language spoken in a European country – English, Spanish, Portuguese, French. A new discovery for today. 

Saturday morning

I am taking a 9am English class every Saturday at a community college. I was on an early Saturday morning bus and then a train to the school. There were several kids on the bus and the train. They all are Asian with their school bags. Ya.. classes on a Saturday morning for Asian kids… Sounds familiar. 

We did introduction at class today. Although there are several Asian faces, I am surprised I am the only Chinese in class. Ya.. Asians go to good schools they don’t just go to community college… Sounds about right.

Embarrassing 

I now often remember what Steve said to me the day after the election. He was extremely upset and he told he couldn’t sleep the night before after he learned the result. I tried to ease him from an outsider’s standpoint and shared with him that in China’s 5000 years history we had quite some terrible rulers. But then he said “it is just embarrassing”. I was surprised such a white guy said that. 

Now when reading and watching all the news. Even an outsider finds it’s concerning. I am traveling in a country whose president is terrifyingly ridiculous and ridiculously terrifying. 

I saw Steve in the office the other day. I wonder how he feels now…