Monday, March 14, 2011

Sad Sad Sad

I love Japan. Anyone who knows me is aware that I plan on moving there someday, at least for a little while. Watching the destruction that the massive earthquake has ravaged on the country and people that have always offered me such kindness has left an aching in my heart and a lump in my throat.
I have read horribly insensitive comments online from other Americans implying that this is god's way of punishing the Japanese for Pearl Harbor. As someone who had relatives fight in WW2, I find these comments disgusting and insulting to the men who fought then, because there is no way in hell that men of that kind of honor could return from war with such a pathetic, ignorant mind.
In all of my traveling there is one thing that is shared amongst all cultures, and that is that people are inherently good. I can not condemn an entire culture for the destruction caused by some of its members. And I sickens me to see that some people still do.
So in the hopes that any one reads this silly blog, I wanted to re-share a post I did a few years back while I was in Japan.

Over the course of my eleven years dancing with New York City Ballet I have had the pleasure of traveling around the world. I have danced in Athens, Greece, St. Petersburg, Russia, Edinburgh, Scotland, Paris, France, London, England, Copenhagen, Denmark, Los Angeles, Berkley, Orange County, California, Houston, Texas, Stonybrook, New York and Tokyo, Japan. While each city and country had so much to offer, Tokyo is definitely one of my favorite places. Sorry Stonybrook.
From the moment you get off the airplane you know you are about as far away from home as you can get. And after a thirteen-hour flight, food becomes your first priority, but oh the language barrier you are about to encounter. In Paris you can get by easily as a tourist. We’ve all ordered steak au poive from a menu at home. And in Athens you just drop the ‘Greek’ off of your Greek salad and there you go. But try to read a menu in Tokyo and your eyes cross and sometimes you just end up pointing at something and hoping for the best.
This is my third time to Tokyo and I’d like to think that I’ve learned my way around a bit. I haven’t. Tokyo is a dizzying city of perpetual daylight. Is it four AM or 3:45 in the afternoon? Your guess is as good as mine. There also seems to be no separation of indoors or outdoors. I have walked down the sidewalk only to find myself in the basement of a department store, having never passed through a doorway nor taken an escalator. Just like magic, there I am standing next to a mannequin, with an umbrella still opened in my hand.
Aside from its’ magical sidewalks and never setting Sun, Tokyo is an odd melding of the old way of living and a futuristic way of living that the older natives seem equally as confused and amazed by as I am.
It’s where these two completely different ways of life meet that enthralls me the most. In a subway station yesterday, I saw a couple of young kids run in to a friend in passing. After catching their friends’ attention, they all bowed to one another. No high fives, no over the top hug-fest that seems to be taking over public schools across America. And most impressive, no fist bump. Oh how I loathe the fist bump. Maybe it’s because I have terrible hand-eye coordination and most of the time I end up punching the other person in the forearm with the strength of a ninety-five year old lady, but the fist bump doesn’t seem to have any point. Where is the sign of friendship and respect in an intersecting punch? But a bow to your friends, that is honor.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Hong Kong is like a prostitute, you love her for a few minutes and then you're left itching for days.

Here are a few questions that I have for Hong Kong...

1. Why don't your elevators work? It shouldn't have to tack on an extra half an hour to my commute. After the button is pushed, you should be at my floor at least within 25 minutes.
(an interesting side note.. the elevators in the theatre here are made by a company named Schindler's Lifts. You can't make up shit like that.)
2. Why are you so willing to push people on the sidewalk, yet you don't have the balls to J-walk?

3. You are so afraid of germs. Signs everywhere declare how often an area is sanitized, yet you are so eager to cough in my face. Explain.

4. Why do you put the "double chili pepper symbol" indicating extreme spiciness next to what arrives as bland boiled chicken?

5. Where are all of your daughters?

6. Why don't any of your signs regarding contracting swine flu contain the advice of staying away from pigs.

7. How does a 20 year old male drive a Lamborghini down the street with the same look of excitement as I have when I rent a Dodge Stratus from Avis?

8. Are you sure that Cantonese isn't the "Language of Love"?

9. I'm pretty sure that we invented Air-Conditioning, so why don't you turn yours down, I'm not impressed.

10. What's the quickest way to your airport?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Lazy Post

Something that I just can't wrap my head around here, is the fact that no restaurant provides napkins. At our pawn shop dinner (details later) we were given giant prawns with a honey glaze which we ate with our fingers. When our hostess noticed some of us wiping our hands on the table cloth (I'm looking at you Rebecca) she provided us with a bowl of scalding water, seriously, almost boiling, to dip our hands in and a nice half used roll of toilet paper. Classy.
We all miss Craig, and when the prawns came out, so did our cameras. And we all at once admitted we were taking our pictures for him. Love you Boo.
Sean's fashion here has been a fluctuation between Fonsie from Happy Days and MC Hammer.
Some locals.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Day Something, I don't know, does it matter?

I have to admit, I kind of like Hong Kong. It's a lot like New York but with a shit load of smog. I've never experienced smog before. No that's not true, I saw smog in L.A. once, but smog is actually the best thing about L.A., second best thing...leaving L.A., so maybe that doesn't count. 
Our theatre here is located right on the water and apparently there is a lovely skyline that we should be able to see set amongst some gorgeous mountains. Well, during the day you can't really see it. It's like looking at something after rubbing Vasaline and baby powder on your eyes. I keep asking myself, is that weather or pollution? (CNN has recently answered my question by discussing the fact that Hong Kong has no environmental laws. Don't cry Al Gore.)

People here are obsessed with material possessions. I have seen countless amounts of people taking pictures of store fronts. STORE FRONTS! Who the fuck wants a photo of the Gucci store's entrance hanging on their walls? Between our hotel and the theatre, a mere 10 minute walk, (which should really only take five but these people won't get out of my way), there are two Prada stores and two Tiffany's.  Full size stores no less. I don't get it, I was under the impression that China had loaned most of its money to the US, so who the hell can afford to shop at Luis Vuitton on their lunch break? Not this bitch, 96% of my wardrobe came from the sale racks at Urban Outfitters, and that's an improvement from the days when I use to shop at Webers.

I could and would love to talk (vent) about work here, but I won't. However I will say that craziness is contagious, and apparently a lot of people that I work for aren't washing their hands properly. 

Tonight we have plans to go to a pawn shop that at night lets some man come in and cook for people who book him. It wasn't my idea, but we've heard that a lot of people will cook for you out of their own kitchen even though they aren't licenced cooks. What's the worst that could happen right? So Mom, if you're reading this, if I don't post tomorrow, I've clearly died from food poisoning. 

Sleep tight.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Day One. Actually Day Three is you count the travel.

We have arrived in Hong Kong. Our flight was 16 hours and 10 minutes long, but who’s counting when your seat doesn’t recline but rather scoots your butt forwards in to a position that can only be described as the ‘shove your penis in to your belly button position’. (Yeah, you had to click the explicit content warning on this sight, so don’t act surprised)
But 16 hours isn’t so bad when you’re being gently rocked to sleep by turbulence. At least I think it was turbulence although it might have just been the plane rocking from the incessant bowing of our flight attendants. Come on ladies, you don’t have to bow to me after handing me a wet-nap. It’s just a wet-nap; they come free with a box of Kentucky Fried Chicken. But our plane landed safely in the correct destination and I guess that’s really all that matters.
After checking in to our hotel and freshening up, we set out to get a quick bite to eat before attempting to sleep. We wandered around our neighborhood checking out a few menus outside to see if they had what we were in the mood for, which luckily was Chinese food.
 Now I know that people call me “negative, cynical, pessimistic, even an asshole”, but those people don’t know shit, I’m a realist. There are things about other cultures that just drive me nuts. I don’t think less of the culture for it, but I’m not going to pretend that I blindly love everything that I see. Also, I think that I can be quite generous in my praise of things that tickle my fancy, such as my love for Asia’s obsession with photo menus. Nothing gets my mouth watering like a photo of oily noodles with slices of spicy beef on top. See, when you just read “oily noodles with slices of spicy beef”; it probably did nothing for you. But if you had seen the picture, shiny, shiny noodles with steam coming off of them, covered with pieces of beef just glistening with spicy goodness you too would walk in, sit down, and point at that picture to the waitress, whom I would presume would then bow to you and give you a wet-nap.