Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Waiting for my happy ending?

The other day, I saw a book in the bookstore by the woman who wrote "eat, pray, love". It was some book about marriage and a continuation of how she found love and happiness after her soul searching of eat, pray, love. One of my pet peeves about best selling books and Hollywood movies is their feel good factor/happy ending. It's a cute idea to believe that after taking a year off to find yourself after devastating heartbreak there's a chance to find undying-happily-ever-after-love.

Though I agree that you have to open yourself up to finding love and learn from the mistakes of previous relationships, that's only part of it. You also need timing and fate on your side and, as I'm learning, geography too.

As I knock on the door to 40, I'm discovering for all of these factors to line up, the odds of this happening are akin to winning the lottery. Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking on desperation's door nor do I think any relationship would ever bring "happily ever after". In fact it annoys the hell out of me that any book/magazine catering to my demographic suggests that a guy, any guy presents the possibility of happily ever after! Society, women's magazines and virginia slims cigarette ads tells me that as a woman in the 21st century, anything is possible. But they also give the subliminal (and not so subliminal) message that someday your prince will come. I'm here to say, that judging by the amount of frogs I've kissed, I'm pretty sure there are no princes left. And I'm ok with that.

That's not to say there are no great guys out there. There are, and many of my friends have found them. I would be honored and grateful for any man I met to treat me anything close to the way my brothers treat their wives. The thing is those kinds of guys are once, maybe twice in a lifetime occurrences. I can't bitch and moan that I never had the possibility of a great guy, I just didn't know it at the time because I was in my 20's and too busy running from commitment and trying to find myself at the time.

So best selling books and Hollywood movies, I defy you! I'm not sold that the next guy sitting on the plane next to me is going to be my soulmate or that some guy is going to be standing at the top of an escalator drawn to my new perfume and tell me he's been waiting for me his whole life. For if he did, I would surely laugh at him or be too skeptical and send him packing.

Of course I would love to share my life with someone again one day, but I don't have any romantic notions of how and when it'll happen. I'm smart enough now to know not to run if a great guy comes my way, impatient to keep living and enjoying my life yet
realistic enough to know should I be lucky enough for him to come my way, happily ever after, it does not mean!

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Tummy drumming in Taiwan

One of my favorite parts of business trips is treating myself to a massage at least once per trip. After flying endless hours and sleeping in a new bed each night, a massage is awesome at working out the business travel kinks.

The first time I travelled with a new colleague, we both booked massages at the same time, we didn't know each other that well and had only been working together a month. We were both excited for our Thai massages. Imagine our surprise when we ended up with a couples massage. Well, nothing quite breaks the ice getting to know each other than a couples massage. After a little karaoking in our private room afterward, we quickly became (& continue to be years later and several more couples massages) fast friends.

Well today, I had another couples massage experience. And this time, a whole lot more awkward. It was my first time meeting this vendor in Taiwan and the subject of massage came up. They asked me if I wanted to book one after our meeting and I happily agreed.

And then I realized we were having a couples massage. Now this lady and I had about an hour of interaction and here we were. Stripping down on our respective tables for our (not really) private two hours of bliss. With each other. Awkward.

If you've ever had a massage in an Asian country, you know there's no messing around. There's none of this light relaxing stuff. I've learned not to say I like a hard massage because that usually ends in me trying to fight off tears of pain. I should mention that this two hour massage not only ended up being the best massage of my life, but it was also the most interesting.

At one point she had me bent in this twisty position and then dug her elbows into the side of my butt. I almost went thru the roof. After using her elbows, she decided to use my ass as a drum. No joke. Try not bursting out in laughter when you have a small taiwanese lady with a face mask on (to protect from germs) mounting herself onto the massage table while using your ass as a drum. Oh ya, and you're sharing the moment with someone you just met.

After that she went on to massage my abdomen. The fact I didn't pee on her while she was pressing on my tummy is testament to the strength of my bladder muscles. I breathed a sigh of relief when she stopped kneading my tummy like pizza dough. Then she decided to drum on my tummy with her hands. Again, no joke. here I am sharing my first tummy drumming session with someone I just met! Awkward! But I should say at this point we were an hour and a half into the massage, I was relaxed and felt like rubber so I didn't much care!

To be fair, my hostess and lady I shared a massage with was great! And funny! And now that I've live in Europe a while, I'm getting slightly more comfortable with this whole nudity thing (I won't say comfortable- but after living in Germany, I no longer

Next time you need to break the ice with someone, I suggest a couples
Massage! There's nothing quite like it to break the ice!

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

The Glamourous Life

Part of my job involves traveling to Asia.  Usually once or twice a year.  International business travel sounds a lot more glamourous than it is.  Intially, the thrill of seeing a new city and eating Haagen Dazs while flying business class makes up for the inconvenience of jet lag, cancelled flights and security scrutiny (and none compares to a getting into Israel security scrutiny)

But after years of several time a year business travel, the ritual gets a little draining.  Luckily, due to the sheer number of trips I've made, I've learned how to be time efficient.  Most of the trips involve a large amount of time in meeting rooms getting a whole team of people to understand and agree on what you're trying to get across.  Initially, trying to head up a meeting like this overwhelmed me, but I quickly learned that unless I was going to stay there until midnight each night, I was going to have to take the bull by the horns and move things along.  Getting a large group of peole to agree on something is challenging.  Doing it with only a fifth of the people in the room understanding the language you're speaking is like herding cats.  A typical meeting usually goes like this:

- I explain something
- someone translates what I say
- the team discusses.  Usually with some arguments, gestures and finally (and hopefully) agreement.

This last step can take anywhere from a minute to an hour.   In exceptional situations we can get hung up over the most minute task for a full day.

When you have 8 people trying to discuss something, it's sure to go off track.  Or so I assume.  If it's like any meeting I've been in, people start to go off track.  So, after years of being polite but attentive, I've picked up on some cues.

For instance, if someone in the group doesn't get what's being explained, a loud "aaaaaayyyyyy ya" frustratingly is expressed by one of the others- that's my cue to elaborate further.

When someone does get what I'm explaining, an enthusiastic "hai-la" is expressed.  "hai-la" is usually expressed at rocket speed like "hai-la, hai-la, hai-la"  That means I've gotten my point across.  Usually I wait for everyone to "hai-la, hai-la, hai-la" at once.  This signals group agreement and my cue to move onto the next point before we accidentally slide off into kids soccer games and vacation plans.

I've also slowly learned not to embrass myself on business trips.  Anyone that knows me knows that on a good day, I lack grace and elegance.  Add this to jet la and exhaustion and it's not pretty.  I've gone into uncontrolled laughing fits when presented with a chicken head used as a garnish (proof it was fresh and indeed chicken)  I found the chicken's expression of shock and surprise together with being deep fried too much to bear and couldn't contain it.   ahhhhh the food!

Also hard to hold back can be meeting new people for the first time.  Most Chinese people pick a Western name and as I understand it, pick it themselves in adulthood.  It's one thing if your parents named you Water, but if you chose it yourself....  Over the years, I've met Cinderella (sans glass slipper) Tiger, Dorian (a woman), Enrico (also a woman) Dragon, Beer, Bear, the fruit basket that is Apple, Peach and Cherry, a couple of queens and Creamy.  Not one, but two Creamy's.  You try and keep a straight face when someone introduces themselves as creamy.  Not. Easy.

I've survived China thru a few flu epidemics when people in face masks inexplicably walked up to me and pointed a gun like object at my forehead without warning to take my temperature and fill it on my customs form.  I had one customs agent refuse my form because I filled it in a shade of ink he didn't like.  I had yet another correct all my messy hand writing and properly dotted my "i"'s and crossed my "t"'s.

And that's just china.  There are the endless visits to India and an especially memorable flight thru a thunderstorm in a propeller plane (the first time I prayed as an adult!)  The time in Vietnam where the customs official wouldn't let me and a co-worker pass until we dished out the US$25 visa fee.   Payable only in cash, and only in US dollars.  I think I might still be sitting there if my co-worker hadn't remembered she accidentally stashed away some money (which happened to be US$53!!!)

5 years ago, I never thought I would get bored of going to the airport, yet thousands of miles later, I find the travel tedious.  Before, I considered a perk of the job.  Now, it's just part of the job.  I'll still continue to relish the experiences and there's nothing I love better than a good story (which all of my trips have provided me with) but a glamourous life, it's not!

Sunday, July 01, 2012

The Gambler

Recently, some friends told me that they lived vicariously thru me and I found it surprising. Maybe I take things for granted, but I don't think anything I've done is particularly special or unattainable. Sure, I've had some cool experiences, but so can anyone. I'm not smarter, luckier or better educated than anyone else, but I guess I'm willing to take a gamble.

Life is filled with daily subconscious gambles. That street you didn't cross- maybe you just saved yourself from being hit by a bus. That guy you talked to in the grocery story line, maybe you'll be having his kids in 3 years. You just never know!

I would never define myself a gambler in the literal sense. I've been to a casino 3 times in my life and 2 of those times I was escorted out of the casino. And it wasn't for reading cards. When I was in Vegas, I spent $20 on the nickel slots and it lasted me 3 days! The thought of dropping a $100, $50 or even a $20 bill on a hand of cards makes me break out in a cold sweat. Yet when it comes to gambles in life, I don't hesitate! Some have worked better for me than others (going to fashion school, moving to Switzerland) while others have epically failed (moving to, marrying a d-bag). To borrow a line from Kenny Rogers: "you gotta know when to hold em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away and know when to run"

When I left Vancouver for an unknown life in Germany, it was a big gamble. Huge. I was leaving family, friends a comfortable job and an apartment behind. A lot of people said "wow, I could never do that". Well, technically, you can, but you have to put your chips on the table. And if things don't go particularly well, cut your losses and move on. I mean you don't want to be the only person left at the blackjack table crying in your free beer!