Archive | March, 2018

Amazing Year Day 23: Couple Cuts

31 Mar

The couple that gets their haircut together looks good together! (or bad, it depends on the quality of the hair dresser.)

I’m grateful Jaewon now takes me to her stylist. It has nothing to do with the unlimited free fruit tea and sandwiches. I’ve also learned that I love to have my hair washed and massaged by strangers, professional strangers, or at least those with a few hours of experience. Thanks to my good friend Peter me for introducing to such fingery festive frolicking among follicles. That sounds creepy.


Amazing Year Day 22: Blood of Peach

29 Mar

The third quarter has come to a close and with it a spring break. With no plans set plans this is a chance for me to spend more time with Jaewon; read, write, revise, and submit more manuscripts, and knock out my National Board Certification renewal. To celebrate the dawn of the two week intermission, I took advantage of the circumstance and enjoyed the company of cherished colleagues. Continually saddled with work and stress, it’s been difficult to get out, so it was a great chance to spend several hours sharing in childhood pop culture with fellow North Americans.

And by the way, I rocked another juice… #PEACH #FTW

I just now realized these were only in fact 50% juices. Oh well. #sugaraddiction



Amazing Year Day 21: Banana Bile

29 Mar

Another day, another juice.

It was actually pleasantly mediocre.


Amazing Year Day 20: Apricot Essence

28 Mar

Living life on the wild side!


Amazing Year Day 19: “Is that another word for Grape?”

27 Mar

Things are happening and life is progressing just as I had hoped.

But I need to leave something memorable here… in an effort to keep trying new things and “spice” up my life. I did something crazy. I bought four different types of juices. I’m not talking about your typical apple, orange, and grape. This is a whole nother level.

Each day over the next four days I will consume one of these special juices.


Amazing Year Day 18

26 Mar

Today I did something for the very first time. I ate cereal in a see-through bowl. Yep. How about that?


Amazing Year Day 17

25 Mar

I’m old. At least I feel that way. Sleep, exercise, and a well-balanced diet should be my best friends, but I’ve been neglectful.

Despite my aging pains, I rose early opting to ride the bus into Taipei with my wife.


“the woman on the bus goes…”

While I attempted to secure a sequel of sun on the day named after it, I fell short of success. My body just ached and I sluggishly crawled through Taipei.


These soon to be happily-everafter couples are everywhere. I even had to move from my comfortable spot next to the fountain so the photographer could get a “foreigner-free” shot. 


Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall

Even my favorite cheeseburger did little to spark my energetic muse.


Burger Ray’s Signature Burger, Medium-Well, Brioche Bun, Cheddar Cheese

Although… midbite a delightfully unexpected call from two dear friends from Buffalo began to pump the blood back in. During our “hot cup of talk,” they shared the sad news that the building that used to house Home of the Hits, an old record shop on Elmwood, had been torn down.

Home of the Hits

While I never stepped foot in the establishment, it was the basis for the greatest inside saying of all time. You could often hear our friends mutter, “Home of the Hits” as a positive response, and it soon birthed a family of phrases, including its polar opposite “Home of the $hits.” Now with the building left to rubble, perhaps we need to pay our respects and move on to a new expression. Here are some possibilities…

  • Mansion of Magnificence
  • Shack of the Surreal
  • Address of the Awesome
  • Domicile of the Dope
  • Condo of the Cool
  • House of the Hits (blatant rip off)
  • Apartment of Apartheid (the phonetics are cool though)

After a multi-hour nap, I struggled to get myself together. On the advice of my wife, I took a shower. Magic struck. I’ve long found the shower to be my meditation lair. I journey so far from my body that I often can’t remember if I already applied shampoo to my hair or body wash to my skin. It’s the prunish fingers that let me know. While the majority of my life’s showers have been in the bright morning (or late afternoon during those lazy college days), I relish a rinse in the dark. The lack of light allows me to focus more on mind and soul. So tonight I turned off the lights and drew open the shades. Thankfully the steam fogged up the windows protecting me from stalkerish neighbors, but I could still meander my way through the ordeal thanks to the accompaniment of city lights: dim street lamps along a tree-laden road, and beaming blue lights atop an office high-rise breaking through the mist.

I’m not sure how long I escaped in the night shower, but when I came out of there I had three new picture book ideas. Like most of my projects, they weren’t based on witty titles, goofy puns, or silly concepts. Instead they were reflections of my inner being. Through channeling my childhood I’ve been able to tap into sights, sounds, and the “soul” of what it meant for me to be a child. These ideas are all character-based and have premises deep enough to allow me to weave a traditional plot instead of trying to attach one to a list of crazy ideas.

Amazing Year Day 16

24 Mar

Today was what I had in mind when I started the “Amazing Year” project. With no set plans, outside of dinner with my wife, Jaewon, I took it upon myself to explore the possibilities and strolled my way through a surreal Saturday.

Arriving via bus at Yuanshan station, I had my stomach set on a BBQ Pork sandwich at Maji Square. Sadly, the vendor was closed. I was faced with a decision, 1.) head to Taipei 101 and do my usual Jamba Juice / Burger King mashup while I wait for Jaewon, 2.) take a spontaneous trip to Taipei’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), or 3.) just wander and see what happens. I opted for choice #3, and I’m glad I did.

Within seconds of venturing down an alleyway behind Maji Square I spied Cave’s Books, a children’s book store with scores of English books. While I had been there once before on a school shopping trip, I had no idea it was this close to Yuanshan / Maji, which I frequent nearly every weekend. The kid lit reader and writer in me just had to stop in. Having been actively involved in the kid lit world for many years, there’s often personal stories to go with many of the books I see. I almost purchased Grace Lin’s Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, which I’ve been eager to read ever since I heard Little Brown editor Alvina Ling share her story of working with Lin at a SCBWI (Society of Childre’s Book Writers and Illustrators) event in Tokyo. The same goes for I Can Be Anything, a picture book I bought as an inspirational gift for my wife Jaewon after hearing Alvina tell the story of why she decided to chose Taiwanese artist Jimmy Liao to illustrate Jerry Spinelli’s words. Lately I’ve been wanting to live in America. Besides spending time with family and eating more junk food, I’m motivated by the idea by having more access to English picture books. It’s difficult to write when I’m not actively reading in that medium. So naturally I took advantage of the few unsealed picture books and read myself to glee. In the end, I’m proud of myself for holding back and only purchasing one book: A Wrinkle in Time. I figured that I should read this classic Newbury Medal winner before watching what is being labeled by Rotten Tomatoes as a rotten film. I have decreed that once I finish this book I can rush back to Cave’s and purchase Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. Then after I finish all of the Ellray Jakes chapter books, I can storm back in and pickup Book #2 for the Dork Diaries, Princess Black, 13-Story Treehouse, and Ivy & Bean chapter book series.

After my “writer’s retreat” at Cave’s Books, I merrily continued on my random stroll through “wherever I was in Taipei.”


Never knew Tatung University or its high school existed but they sure boast a gorgeous campus.


Moments before this shot, it suddenly and magically rained leaves.


Daily dose of Chinese.


Cool to still spy public phone booths.




Doesn’t sound good.


Taiwanese couples take their wedding photos seriously. You see them all over the place.


That’s one way to theme your cafe.

I opted to give into one of my unhealthy habits, and snacked on a cheeseburger from the King. I must say, I usually don’t pay attention to fast food signs and graphics, but BK certainly added the royal touch to their restaurant decor.

Refusing to use google maps, I ended up running into a dead end: the beautifully scenic Dadaocheng Wharf.

A few weeks back Jaewon and I spied this “famous-looking” duck/chicken restaurant on the southern side of Sun Yet San Memorial Hall, and we thought “hey we should eat here one day.” We’ve said this about hundreds of restaurants in Taipei. But with this being an “amazing year” we actually stuck to our casual promise and dined at Beijing Do It True. There’s nothing fancy about this place, but boy do they serve up some DELICIOUSLY oiled rice, and a fine slab of dead chicken. The duck was “ehhhhh.” For dessert, we stared at the framed photo of former US President George Bush posing with the staff.

Jaewon surprised me with Aomori (where we used to live) Apple jelly and we romped around the Taipei 101 area for the remainder of the evening.


Taipei’s newest skycrapper is literally in the shadow of Taipei 101


Just like the bikes with no pedals that are oddly popular in Taiwan, there is now this dumb contraption. The child does nothing but enjoy the ride as a pathetic parent has to push every inch of the way.

As far as I can recall, I have NEVER given money to a street performer. You may call me stingy, a freeloader, or rather someone with good taste. Nevertheless, an unusual act caught my eye. There was no giant hoop, drums, guitar, or lame juggling, instead a fat guy played with his yo-yo. I became interested in this Yo-Yo Man. I even took the time to film this talented lad. He noticed me filming and enthusiastically came closer, to which I responded by shutting off my phone and cowardly running away. Although, I returned seconds later and…. (drumroll) dropped some major coinage into this man’s otherwise empty basket. I ducked my head and then ran away again. Did I feel better for doing it? Not really. Do I care if he appreciates the gesture? Nope. Will I support the street arts in the future? Perhaps, especially if there’s a light-up yo-yo attached to a large man, woman, child, or animal.

Screen Shot 2018-03-24 at 11.20.50 PM

#Yo-Yo Man

Amazing Year Day 15

23 Mar

Today’s highlight was being able to celebrate a cherished friend’s birthday. It’s good to catch up with the old Hsinchu gang and to meet friendly new faces as well. Happy Anniversary of Your Birth, Peter!


Amazing Year Day 14

22 Mar

These days it’s rare for me to have time to watch an entire film. Instead, I’m usually able to pick away 20 minutes at a time. Today’s highlight was being able to continue Conan the Destroyer, which I’m seeing for the first time ever. I still can’t believe Arnold was able to etch out an acting career after this performance. Wilt Chamberlain did a great job though. Overall, it’s a quirky and fitting ’80s adventure movie.