Hi, I'm Tina. Welcome to my blog.

13 Jun '18  — a house favorite

Since my husband and I were away for several weeks, we hadn’t had our homemade food in a while. I was excited to cook and have some of the meals we regularly prepare at home. Yesterday’s lunch was tagliatelle with a reduced cream and white wine sauce.

bon voy-HOME

I’ve made pasta before but I came across new instructions from other cooking websites. While thinning the pasta dough, I let the dough rest one to two minutes in between changing levels on the pasta maker. Then it took several hours to completely dry. Normally I cook the pasta right after I cut it but I’m glad I tried these new steps–it tasted way better with drying involved. Pasta is technically slow food but I’d never thought of it that way.

pasta making

Physically, I felt so much better eating my own food. Traveling is somehow becoming less and less enticing each day.


13 Jun '18  — relatable to the gulag

Reading Varlam Shalamov’s Forty Five Things I Learned in the Gulag, I was surprised how relatable the gulag is to today.

“I realized what a terrible thing is the self-esteem of a boy or a youth: it’s better to steal than to ask. That self-esteem and boastfulness are what make boys sink to the bottom.”

To steal than to ask reminded me of the ‘It’s Better To Beg For Forgiveness Than To Ask For Permission’ attitude. People who live by this rule often brag about bending the rules/finding a loopholes–basically brag about being an asshole. The fact that you know beforehand that you’ll have to ask for forgiveness later means you totally don’t deserve to be forgiven. It’s anticipating that you’ll have to apologize insincerely.

“The people whom everyone—guards, fellow prisoners—hates are the last in the ranks, those who lag behind, those who are sick, weak, those who can’t run when the temperature is below zero.”

Inside and outside the gulag, the poor and weak are unpopular. Is it because they aren’t ‘adding value?’

“Ordinary people distinguish their bosses by how hard their bosses hit them, how enthusiastically their bosses beat them.”

There are many examples of distinguished people who beat hard–rarely are there celebrated examples of distinguished persons who don’t beat at all. This quote reminded me of a lady who was grateful that her superiors gave her harsh criticism, telling her she was too selfish. There’s seems to be a correlation between beating and respect. I’m not sure if ‘distinguish’ in the quoted text meant simply to tell apart or whether it meant to set apart on a higher level.

Lastly, #45 was the one that made a lot of sense but I can’t explain why.

“I understood that a writer has to be a foreigner in the questions he is dealing with, and if he knows his material well, he will write in such a way that nobody will understand him.”


12 Jun '18  — no one warned me

lily pads unexpected similarities on both sides of the pond

Every time my husband and I get on a flight, my mom makes us vegetarian sushi. It’s got fresh carrots, avocado, cucumbers and an egg. It’s the best thing to eat on a plane because it doesn’t give me stomach trouble as much as plane food.

The day of our flight, I noticed she had gotten up early. I saw a message from her sent at 6am. ‘She’s probably making sushi for us. Why can’t she just relax and sleep in?!’

I was expecting the sushi. But when she came to pick us up, there was no sushi. My mom was up early because she was went to exercise with a friend.

While staying with my husband’s parent’s, I noticed my husband’s mom wasn’t stuffing us with food as much as she used to.

This is a huge turning point. They don’t consider us as growing children that need to be fed.

While it was annoying at times, feeling so full and having plates of food pushed towards you with requests to eat more, I did enjoy the convenience of having food available and it felt like it would always be. Our parents always went overboard.

Not anymore. They’ve moved on.


12 Jun '18  — serious issue that seems not so serious at first

biscuit breakfast nothing like waking up after a GOOD night of sleep

I’ve had insomnia twice in my life. The first was in my mid twenties. For months I’d go to sleep at 1 or 2am only to wake at 5am. It was too subtle to treat as a real issue but weeks went by where I hadn’t slept much.

Last month, insomnia hit again. But this time, I knew I needed to address it. After a week of internal questioning, I found a way out. I had to upend who I was and how I related to the world. It wasn’t easy.

Today I was happy to hear about Kim Cattrall’s experience with insomnia. I’d never come across anyone who talked about it so it was nice to hear another person going through the same thing. Kim created an audio story that describes the worries and memories that pour out in the darkness and the ways it always seems better off to get up and be productive.

Letting go of being productive was what cured me in the end.


11 Jun '18  — better than first class

plane the best seats

On our way to Europe, my husband and I played several hours of poker. It was one of the best rides I’ve ever had. On our return trip, I planned on having another smooth flight but I was too tired to concentrate.

When will gambling be available on planes? There are cruise ships full of slot machines but none yet on planes. Gambling allowed me to forget how uncomfortable the seats were. I even stopped hearing babies cry.

Instead of first class, there should be casino class. I can see why gambling is essential to any human civilization, from cock fighting to dominos–it’s a natural pain reliever. The highs feel so good and when you loose, you can’t wait to try again.

american food back to eating ‘merican


07 Jun '18  — would've never thought

view of mountains a different view

I’ve changed my mind since becoming an adult. What I used to hate are now things I love and vice versa. The optimism that comes with youth subsides–in a good way. People who I once thought were losers really aren’t. Although far from ideal, the suburbs become preferred. The economics behind reuniting with friends reverse.

Most strangely, activities that once made me tear up from boredom are now exciting.

I wonder what other changes are in store.


05 Jun '18  — moral boundlessness

The Seven Five is a documentary about one really bad cop.

I enjoyed the movie because it describes how much morality can be made up. Police serve the public and there’s an idea that they’re providing something good. In practice, they’ve got to cover each others’ backs. There’s a level of trust they need in other to work in dangerous situations.

In Police Academy, officers are told that if their partner describes something that happens in a way that didn’t, a ‘good cop’ backs them up. When officers get to a scene where there’s gunfire, there’s reluctance to protect a rat over someone loyal.

From the beginning the documentary describes how moral codes contradict each other, there’s no truth to justify. Within the police organization you’ve got to follow one set of ideas that often contradict a more general moral code. Understanding that there’s no basis behind morality–how comfortable are you in disregarding moral guidelines?

It’s a great movie to watch. Moral guidelines are made to be beyond everyone’s reach and the movie reminded me that they will always be. After watching, I fully embraced the bad qualities (impatient, unnecessarily opinionated, sometimes a liar) of myself.


01 Jun '18  — not eco-friendly

flowers in the sun

I’ll never forget the time my friend Kathy drove me to lunch back in high school. It was super hot, 90 degrees and her parents let her borrow their car for one day. The windows were rolled down and the AC turned to the max. We wanted to feel the wind from the outside but also, we wanted to feel comfortable in the heat. The hot and cold felt so good together.

Open windows with the AC is something you’re ‘not suppose to do.’ Anytime anyone turns on the AC, the windows are forced to come up. This is sad for a person like me who loves open windows. I often feel carsick when there isn’t much air flow.

It makes more sense to open the windows and have the AC running. But I’ve never been allowed to enjoy such a thing outside that moment with my friend. Her parents were dentists. There was no guilt in being luxuriously wasteful. At the time, being ecologically friendly wasn’t yet much of a concern.

If I ever get a car, one thing I’ll make sure is to blast AC with the windows rolled down. I wonder if running the heat in the winter would achieve the same?


31 May '18  — marvel

I swam in the lake this morning without needing to stop.

In the past two days, whenever I was several feet from the dock, I would panic and turn back. ‘If I can’t find somewhere to stand in the next thirty seconds, I’ll drown.’

That’s what I was thinking, yet, today, I was far from the dock for a long time.

How did this happen? Swimming the past two days, I kept wishing I had a floatation device. I got tired easily.

But today, I could have swam the entire lake without stopping. Now I understand why people don’t buy flotation devices. You can easily float–for a long time–if you just relax.

It’s strange how things can be impossible one day and completely natural the next.


30 May '18  — controlling chaos

I hate chopping tomatoes more than most things in this world. But when I cook tomatoes, I have to chop them. Slicing one tomato isn’t bad but it’ll leave enough liquid so that it’s difficult to cut any more. Chopping no longer involves just slicing but also maneuvering of cut pieces so that pooling of juice is controlled.

I try to keep the liquid on the cutting board but at some point, it spills onto the counter. When this happens, a river of juice flows fast from the board. Then the chopping advances to where it’s more about maneuvering the board. With each cut, I have to figure out a way to direct the juices so that they won’t pool towards the edge of the counter. I absolutely hate it when tomato juice streams down the counter to the floor.

It’s frustrating to control the mess while trying to chop. Getting the knife to slice into tomato skin is hard enough.

But I’ve come to realize, if I can manage to accept this mess, I can manage the mess of life.

Life has a tendency to spread beyond where I’d like things to go. I often hope to contain situations but things always move towards possibilities I’d never imagined.

‘Just let the juices flow.’

That’s what I’m trying to do every time I chop now. It’s so hard, I want to contain the chaos, but I’m starting to tell myself no.