(Old Faithful Geyser)

Settings: Impressions from the places/cities in which I’ve lived, visited, breathed–inspired by wmc, whose strengths as a writer includes setting…

New York City 1973-1978
Pizza emerging from a window, a hole, in the wall. Me, a toddler, walking in pink plastic clogs, pizza in hand, under the El. Watching karate in the neighborhood karate studio, holding tightly onto my grandmother’s hand, frightened at the violence.

First day in school, not speaking a word of English. Hysterical. Being locked in the school bathroom; somehow I could understand when the teachers would ask me, “Are you done crying yet?” before hearing the door latch shut.

Being born.  I do not remember.

Walking outside all day.  Living a life on sidewalks, an apartment only for sleeping.  They break up on the sidewalk, too.  He walks two feet behind her, pleading.  She answers only reluctantly.

My favorite city in the world.

Tokyo, Japan 2005
Tsukiji Fish Market at dawn: Have they emptied the ocean of its fish?

Weird.  In a good way.

Seoul, South Korea 1981, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1997, 2000, 2005
I’m eight years old. Meeting maternal grandma for the first time. Open air markets, pig heads for sale.

Dwae-ji (piggy) bars. Not pork, but the name of delicious ice cream bars. So hot. So humid. No appetite for anything else. Lotte Hotel air conditioning. Swimming at the amusement park but being pulled out of the pool by the lifeguard. “Swimcaps required.” Wearing a loaner flower swimcap, the desire to swim diminished.

DMZ. Going underground in the tunnels. Claustrophobia.

High school and college summers in Seoul. Seeing my maternal grandma for the last time. Short hair, hot pants, clubbing all night. Short hair, skirt, visiting family.

Summers, Spring, Autumn.  Autumn is the best.

Nikko, Japan 2005
Landscape dripping fog. Green, gray, and red.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 1999
Honeymoon. Beach. Guaraná and cerveza vendors. All you can eat meat. Condom in the water. (Not ours).

Los Angeles 1978-1980
Cloudy in June.

******* 1980-1991, Never.
I will never live here again.

Paris 1998, 2008
L’as du falafel. Pierre Hermé macaron. Beautiful, even when ugly. Under dressed.

Berkeley 1991-2009
Where I began.

Las Vegas
I believe in luck.

Wyoming 2009
Beautiful. But not always kind. Oh so beautiful.

London 2002, 2005, 2007, 2008
I did not like it when I went on a budget. I loved it when I broke my budget. And then I loved it very much.

Walking through Belgravia at night, the white stucco houses reflecting moonlight. Purple crocuses in St. James Park in Spring. Balham with a friend. Indian food. Would live here.

Edinburgh 2008
Green. Crag.

Sierra Nevadas
Alpine lakes mirroring mountains and sky. Yellow aspens against blue sky in Autumn. Cooking burritos over a campstove under the darkening sky. Awakened by mountain lions in the dark.  Falling stars.  Falling snow.

Miami 2007
I do not remember anything for longer than one hour but still we go to Miami because I hope that travel will pierce my psyche. Two years later, I remember dimly the beach, the tepid ocean, neon South Beach.  Like a dream.

New Orleans 2003
Rendezvous with husband here–he driving from Georgia, I flying in from San Francisco. Meeting up at a hotel that lost our reservations, driving to Metairie. Pre-flood New Orleans. Dinner at Galatoire’s. Muffaleta. Chicory coffee, beignets–all tasty New Orleans clichés.

I’m the only Asian.

The gargantuan Mississippi.
Lake Ponchatrain and a bridge that never seems to end.

Rome, Italy 2003
So many motorbikes.

Tel Aviv, Israel 2007
She is dead.

Jerusalem, Israel
The Wall. Sending a message up to G*d.

Beijing, China 2008
Dust storms. The Forbidden City. I recognize Chinese characters. The airport is so pretty.

Hangzhou, China 2008
The lake. Longjing tea.

Amsterdam 2005
The red light district has a lot of red lights.

Antwerp, Belgium 2005
This hotel sucks.

Ann Arbor 2008
R. White Castle.

Barcelona, Spain
Starving but everything is closed. Siesta.



Filed under Memes, Travel, Writing

4 responses to “Setting

  1. wmc

    I love this. My favorite line: “Swimcaps required.”

    I wish I’d visited more cities. But there are so many stories and impressions in even just one city, aren’t here? I’m looking forward to continuing this series, and I’m so glad you played too.

  2. *long time reader of your blog (about a year), first time comment*

    Like WMC, this makes me want to see more of the world. That said, I enjoyed reading. Felt like hopping from country to country with few lines.

  3. wmc: You will visit many many more cities! I love your post just on NYC, the city broken down into addresses, neighborhoods, streets, and the experiences/impressions associated with each. Wow. I may do that with Berkeley. You inspire me!

    mensah: welcome! thank you for commenting and for your encouragement. 🙂 the world is so awesome–travel is so amazing, there are still so many more places i want to see (like Greece). check out wmc’s post (the one that inspired me) for more inspiration! 🙂

  4. EJ

    execpt that they have emptied the ocean – its weird but not good.

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