and the latest longflight…

it has been more than a month since i last blogged. i think.

i’m not here to talk about that.

last time i posted, i was in hong kong.

then i took a very long flight and am now sitting in my bedroom in the house where i grew up in Alabama in a very small town.

this year i took a different route home. American Airlines recently opened up a new flight from Dallas straight to Hong Kong. I decided to try it because I really hate having layovers in Tokyo where the wifi doesn’t work to post my family where i am and there’s no interesting people to watch and it seems like i just took a useless 4 hour plane ride before another 12 hour flight to get to an airport 3 hours from home (ATL).

So I decided to try this one, HK to DFW, because my aunt and uncle live in Fort Worth, and I could see them (since we don’t very often, they’re so far), before making a short and easy 1.5 hour flight to a one-terminal airport in the city where both sets of grandparents live. Sounds awesome.

I actually quite liked having the long-haul flight over and done with first thing (though unfortunately it won’t be like that on the way back). I wasn’t able to pick an aisle seat, which is a little bother for someone like me who drinks 47 gallons of water to keep from turning into a raisin in the recycled compressed air for 13 hours and i have to pee all the time. at first when we got into the plane i was sitting at the window seat beside a couple. we didn’t really talk, we were civil, nothing special. within an hour the flight attendant recommended i move behind me where there were 2 free seats.

great! i thought.

so i moved…next to the rudest human i have ever encountered.

this is a white man, mid-late 40s, graying hair, who made it very clear over the duration of the flight that he hated my guts and did not appreciate my existence. (there was a point i began to take this personally then resolved to laugh it off. i find it upsetting that someone can be so horribly bitter, especially at someone they have never met before.)

what did he do? firstly, never once did he look at me. when i needed to get up, he ignored me. it took a while to get his attention. i had to physically tap his shoulder after waiting till my bladder was about to burst. he would roll his eyes in the most drama-queen manner i’ve ever witnessed, and ever-so-slowly rise from his seat, take a step forward with his eyes on the far end of the plane as if i didn’t exist. i ended up viewing this as a sort of freedom. i could stand, as long flights with incredibly long legs don’t mix too well. i would stand up as long as i could till the seatbelt signs came back on and the flight attendants would fuss at me to sit back down.

then i’d have to tap him on the back of the shoulder, and an audible groan would emit from his mouth as he would once again, without casting so much as a side-eyed glance at me, take his little step forward in the aisle till he heard me sitting down in my chair.

this happened numerous times. then there was the light incident. my reading light didn’t work, so when he turned his on i used the edge of it to read on my 1st-gen kindle (i’m on George MacDonald’s Phantastes). He pulled out his legal pad for short intervals throughout the flight, writing what appeared to be a book or some grossly boring report. he finished and noticed i was using the light – i saw him look at my kindle (not me of course). he fidgeted with the pad. put his eyeglasses down. turned the page to look at something he wrote which he paid no attention to. took his pen out of his shirt pocket and put it on the pad. then he turned the light out.

i understand he didn’t want to keep it on, but at least speak to me like i’m a human. ‘Hey, I’m going to turn the light out.’ That’s all i ask. is that too much? too old-fashioned? i just can’t buy that.

so you know what i did? after playing with my light that never came on, i turned on the one in the middle – between us – and read for 30 – 40 minutes while he made such a dramatic scene, leaning forward and backward and groaning and fidgeting like he was trying to sleep, but i didn’t relent. i wanted to read.

eventually, i turned it off, and i kid you not, the instant i turned off the light he straightened up and began flipping through the movies on his screen. i settled down to sleep again.

and what woke me up? the light. in my face.

he turned the light on my face while i was sleeping.

i couldn’t even grasp the situation but alas! i’m a PROFESSIONAL player of possum. i can make my parents, friends, strangers, whoever believe i’m asleep when i’m actually perfectly coherent. so the light didn’t phase me at all. i kept sleeping for 20 more minutes (i reckon), till i suddenly got so curious about what was outside that i popped up and…

cracked the window.

and it was bright, so blindingly white, outside that it was an utter disturbance to Rude Man, but i got some lovely pictures of the mountains.

when we FINALLY landed in DFW, the man stood up immediately and exited the plane as if I was nonexistent. and i have to tell you i was so glad that flight was over.

not only because of Rude Man, but i slept through all the meals. at some point i managed to find a spare sandwich and some juice in the back.

so that is my 2014 flightstory part 1. hopefully nothing too remarkable will happen on the way back. and hopefully i can find an aisle seat.

(on the flight from DFW – home the passengers just told bad jokes and i slept through it. but the welcoming committee of my dad’s parents, mama’s mama, and my aunt and uncle – oh yeah and my parents/brother/sister – made the whole trip worth it. not to mention having seen my other aunt and uncle in Dallas and filling my empty tummy with a beautiful fish sandwich from a great local place in Grapevine.)

 

the end.

- s

#umbrellarevolution

i’m living in the literal middle of the Umbrella Revolution here in Hong Kong and, strange as it may sound, i’ve never been more proud to call Mongkok my neighbourhood.

 

so it’s one of the world’s most densely populated places, but it’s also an area where political messages and protests are strewn. the market is a tourist haven, as is the weirdly-constructed Langham Place mall. local businesses tend to stay around longer than a lot of other places in HK. many of the tiny local restaurants get their ingredients from the wet market across the street (and some places even make their own soy milk). the soup noodles i get from one of my canteens is always a little different based on what’s at the market that day.

 

i’m known as the neighbourhood white girl. i have a few places i return to eat and they usually give me free tea. i make sure to walk through the market every so often to say hello to my neighbours who own the booths (i don’t have to bargain much anymore!). mongkok has its own subculture; many people perceive the residents here to be unfriendly as they tend to bark at everyone harsher than other districts, but that’s actually just how it is – even though it’s a small area in a small country, each district has its own culture. in fact, there’s even a slang term-of-unsure-endearment: ‘MK.’ it’s that distinct. i can’t explain what the term means. if you came here it would make more sense.

 

so in the midst of this umbrella revolution, i’ve wandered out to see what’s going on (with some other photographer companions) and managed to talk to a few people. the locals are quite upset at how tourists are taking advantage of this time and not paying attention to the reason behind the whole protest. Nathan Road, a 6 lane highway that is a route for over 100 buses, has been completely blocked off for 3 weeks now, the frontline being at the intersection of it and another central road called Argyle Street. police standoffs are commonplace now, but that’s all they are – standoffs, except for the couple of incidences publicized internationally. the tension in the air is tangible, however.

 

a couple of nights ago i was walking to Langham and got to witness the taking back of Nathan after the police managed to open it back up (for only a few hours). imagine this blonde white girl standing on top of a fire hydrant filming the double-decker buses slowly coming a stop. the hundreds of people standing within my range of sight erupt into an enormous cheer and make way just enough for the buses to floor it and get out of there as fast as possible. just before, one older man looked at me and we had an awkward stare-down for a few moments before he asked, ‘Do you know what is happening?’ I told him I live here and I’m glad to be with them, cheering alongside. he was astonished, as were the other locals I talked to. i have personally encountered no hostility, no disrespect. some people probably think i’m from the press like most of the other (few) ‘gwailos’ (white people). some people are used to seeing me around the neighbourhood. some people offered my roommate Dana food and water from their short supply. i wish i could bake all of them cookies.

 

here’s a good video on VICE i found, and before i conclude this post, i just want to clarify that there is no intention for this protest to be a violent one like i’m sure it would have long already been in other places. instead of setting things on fire and tearing things apart (besides relocating bus stops to the middle of the road), people are taping art and quotes to building walls and MTR station exits. they’ve brought their folding chairs and eat street food and help pass out water and umbrellas to everyone. they’ve set up desks and tents and are working on their laptops and watching TV on their phones. this isn’t a fight, they’re simply occupying. it’s done my heart good to see people coming together peacefully and chatting although they’ve never met.

 

i just looked out my window to see Nathan Road and there’s not too many people out. there’s some construction work a street over; i hear a jackhammer and that’s it. there’s no noise from buses, maybe the occasional taxi going the back way through my street since it’s one of the only ones easily accessible. people are going about their business as usual. sometimes i catch snippets of conversations from the street 11 floors down. it’s a beautiful day here in HK – fall is officially here. the sun is shining. the breeze is blowing in through all my open windows. i am glad to be here.

 

more footage of the protests coming soon – these pictures were during the week with little action.

 

- s

vision

 finding solace in the lack of light

finding headaches in the sunspots

finding disturbance in the sunsets and truth in the twilight

inspiration in the golden hours

 

hearing echoes in the water’s cries

and creaking of ancient oaks

and whispers of the wind – twisting & turning & writhing  in rhythm to the music of the rotation of the earth

  

 our souls are the ones that turn to water & air;

we live, we remain, we see the spiritual beauty in everything -

our legacy lives on

we inspire others

our love lasts till the end of the world & our job is to nurture that

 

suntime, paying rent with peanut butter, grandpa glasses

so basically, dana and i could pay rent with how much peanut butter we eat.

not really because hong kong is stupid expensive.

on another note, our plants are still generally doing well except our mysterious purple plants. they aren’t telling us what they need. kind of like how a baby can’t express himself.

but the rest are doing fine.

and i am now a grandpa.

that’s about all.

x

- s