by the seat of my pants is something I do. Perhaps a bit too much, because planning has its place, but at times I’m not all that good at planning.

It’s not a trait isolated to me, apparently. My parents had decided that they were going to visit Taiwan during Chinese New Year, and then realized that their passports were expired. We tend to be last minute.

For example, this weekend is a long weekend for Tomb Sweeping Day. (Traditionally people are supposed to clean out the tombs and freshen them up). I originally thought of going to Japan, but then never got around to making flight and accommodation plans. Also, the idea of spending tons of money wasn’t that attractive. I then thought of going down to Tainan to spend some time with the family, but no one seemed to be going down to Tainan (though my auntie would definitely be there). Traffic would be bad, etc… And normally this wouldn’t be a big deal, but I’m a bit shy of asking my aunt myself if I can crash in on her because my language skills are still deplorable, and I didn’t want her to feel obligated to host me.

So, I asked my Taipei aunt off-hand if she was going to be doing anything this weekend, and she said they were still figuring it out. Called my partner-in-crime cousin on Monday who mentioned that we were going somewhere for a day trip this weekend, but there were no ideas like time and where to meet yet.

Heard nothing.

When dawn had yet to poke me awake with her rosy fingers, my phone rang this morning. My aunt asked if I could meet her at the subway station by her house at nine. After saying yes, I paused… “You mean jintian (today)?” Yup, she meant today. I assured her it would be fine as my feet hit the cold tile floor. I did not really slept the night before, which was why I was able to dazedly walk instead of oozing to the bathroom to humanize myself. Once under the ministrations of hot water, only then did I realize that I had no idea what time she had called me, and it takes about an hour to get to where they are from where I am. Unfortunately, moving faster was kind of physically impossible for me at that point, so I just tossed on clothes and finally found my watch to see that it was past eight…

I did the run down the escalator where each step feels like a tiny graduated fall, as if I’m water flowing down the rocks of a moving mountain…

Only to see that my train was five minutes away.  Resigned that I would be late, I tried to remember those meditations where in spite of being late, you’re really feeling the fresh petals of a rose on your cheek, or cheerfully contemplating your decomposing body as an exercise in detachment (Buddhists are a bit weird, but then most religions are in the cold light of rationale, I guess). I watched the previews on the televisions in the station instead.

There were a lot of people in the early morning still going to work in their office clothes.

I finally met up with my aunt and cousins at nine and learned that she’d called me at seven-thirty. We were interrupted at that particular moment by my cell phone singing my alarm to wake me up.


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Free Rice

April 2007
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