Friday, September 28, 2007

Gettin in the cultcha!!!, in my search to keep busy, I went to the Center the other day. It's a wonderful non-profit community center where they hold classes, offer sightseeing tours....they basically help "foreigners" orient themselves to Taipei.
Last year when we were here I took Survival Chinese there - but didn't try very hard! I really just wanted to meet other ex-pats...and I did. I learned A FEW words...I plan on taking private lessons at the Taipei Language Institute. I need to be held accountable (i.e given homework/tests!!).

Well, it looks like I have to wait until November for the real fun to start, but this is what I signed up for:

1. Shungye Museum of Formosan Aborigines - a guided tour. I am fascinated by aboriginal culture. Should be really interesting.

2. Yangmingshuwu- guided tour of Chiang Kai-Shek's guest house located in a "tranquil forest surrounded by lush vegetation and singing birds". Sounds lovely!

3.Chinese Health Secrets- A lecture which is supposed to tell you "early warning signs using simple methods" (like checking your tongue and pulse). I am intrigued by Chinese medicine so I can't wait for this lecture.

4. Flower Arranging - 3 1 and 1/2 hour classes. This will be SO cool, and relaxing too - I look forward to learning this skill and vow to always have fresh flowers in our home.

5.Green Galore (I think she means "Greens") and Tasty Tofu - a one session cooking class. I have been craving greens lately. Tofu is tofu is tofu. (maybe not???? yeah dream on).

6. Thai-riffic - Thai and Indian food are my faves and I have never really tried to make Thai food. It's also a one session cooking class where we we learn how to prepare 3 dishes. No Laura, they're not vegetarian. Maybe I will take a few private lessons with the instructor.
Cooking is GREAT therapy.

Speaking of which - last weekend, Sujoy and I bought a bamboo steamer and steamed a HUGE red was AWESOME. Just melted in your mouth. Sujoy cut himself on one of the (teeth? some part of the fish) and his finger swelled. That was weird. Anyway, it was our first experience w/a bamboo steamer and it was a success! Hurrah!

I am also going to volunteer in the Center's office. They are having an fund raising auction and will need help in early October. Thank goodness they need help because I am truly going nutters with so much time on my hands. I am also going to volunteer at a few school events - but they're not for awhile.

Anjoli has had a stomach flu for the last two days, so I have barely been out since Wednesday. I miss my workouts and couldn't get my face massage from Sean. Oh well, at least Sujoy massages my face EVERY night before bedtime. Good man. :) He is an awesome masseuse!

Oh good news: I have a weird, tingling slightly painful sensation near my nose on the left side where it's paralyzed and a line is starting to form!!! I believe this is good news - it wasn't there before, and neither was the feeling. I am taking this extract of 7 mushrooms that I brought with me from the U.S. It's supposed to be good for the nervous system and immune system. Maybe it is helping. It helps cancer patients.

I know my posts are long now...but like I said, I am going stir crazy! Oh I have a "lunch date" with a friend of a friend I met in my Chinese class last year this Wednesday. Finally I will have a social life. Phew!

Hope you are all well.

Lots of love,

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Good Times (for a change)

Yesterday was a great day for me.

(I realize most of this is boring and LONG - the last two paragraphs are about the fun I had!).

In the morning, I went for a first visit to a local (family) physician. I had a laundry list for myself, but the main reason for going was to see if I could get a medical excuse for my daughter to not have the MMR vaccine.

[Background story: I waited until last year to pick and choose which vaccines to give Anjoli. A year before she was born I researched and wrote a lenghty article on the cons of vaccination. I was always worried when we travelled to India, but I breast fed her for YEARS and gave her homeopathy and herbs, etc. Thank goodness, she never got that ill in India. Her pediatrician was adamant about her getting polio, DaPT and Hepatitis A before travelling to Taiwan last year (when we came the first time). So I did.

A few weeks ago, I received a letter from her school (the Taipei American School) stating the records show she is missing the MMR and must get one. I went to the nurse and explained that I was not planning on giving her this. About 6 years ago, Sujoy's cousin, who lives in Liverpool, gave her infant son an MMR and he became autistic shortly after receiving it. His doctor even warned her about the controversy surrounding the MMR and Hepatitis B shot. Both are preserved with mercury, and there is mounting evidence of a link between children who are "sensitive" to mercury and the onset of early childhood autism].

The doctor was WONDERFUL. So warm and friendly - he spoke perfect English. He was extremely compassionate - couldn't believe my brain surgery story. Oddly enough, while he was in graduate school at NYU, his wife (who was his fiance at the time) had a similar brain tumour. Her host family's "dad" happened to be a neurosurgeon and diagnosed her shortly after her stay with the family. We talked about how everything is in the hands of the Divine - and how it was NO ACCIDENT that I was diagnosed in Boston - where I had access to possibly the best medical doctors in the world.

I told him how upset I have been - how I was diagnosed when I was "homeless" en route to relocating to Taiwan. I started to cry a bit - he held my hands and said "OF COURSE YOU ARE UPSET! YOU ARE SUFFERING FROM POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS SYNDROME!" Wow. A doctor who actually CARES and listens. I told him I needed a refill and higher dose for my anti-depressant - he checked on -line to see if he had the same type (the doctors here have their own pharmacies). He did - so he gave me a month's supply.

He asked me if I was comfortable with acupuncture - so I told him THAT story. Then he gave me the name of a local, top notch acupuncturist who cured him of temporary hearing loss. He explained that he was a professor of Chinese medicine and was once the head of the Dept. of Chinese Medicine for Taiwan's Dept. of Health. Cool! So now I can see someone locally (but I love my Buddhist Hospital - I still want those face massages). I am really looking forward to seeing this doctor (I hope he speaks English though- I forgot to ask).

Then, I nervously showed him the letter from Anjoli's school - and he explained that he was out of the vaccine at the moment. I told him that I didn't want her to have the vaccine and he said, "oh, I understand your concern." Then he pointed above my head to a certificate on the wall that said something like, Specialist in Heavy Metals and Toxicology.
"This is my specialty. I am going to a seminar in Singapore in November - and he showed me the brochure - and the main reason for going was to hear a doctor speak about the link between autism and mercury!
My mouth dropped. I couldn't believe it. It felt SO GOOD to be validated - because most people think I am nuts. He explained that in his 14 years of practice, he has seen a significant, steady increase in autism in children. We blabbed and blabbed about vaccines, bureaucracy,and chelation (removing heavy metals from the body). He has cured kids of mercury induced autism using chelation. I told him about our cousin's son, and he gave me his CELL NUMBER and email so Sujoy's cousin could speak to him about (possibly) curing her son. He explained that there are doctors in the UK who could help her son.
I finally said, "I better go- there are other patients waiting!" I could have chatted for hours with the man. We had so much in common. He was excited to hear I was from San Diego, as he attended a conference on autism there and - oddly enough, his wife's name is Susan too.

Then I came home and rested a bit before getting Anjoli. Around 5 o 'clock Sujoy and is friends Thomas and Alice (Thomas is his business partner too) came to pick us up to go shopping for BBQ food. Thomas and Alice invited us over to their condo to celebrate the Moon Festival (which is actually today). There is a legend behind the moon festival, which I was going to include but this post is already a mini novel, so I will just say that the moon festival is very much like our July 4th. Families and friends get together and BBQ (you MUST BBQ), light fireworks and eat very rich, sweet Mooncakes.

We had a great time barbaquing - Thomas and Alice have an adorable one year old girl, so that was a treat- playing with her. They have a "penthouse" - so we all hung out outside on the balcony which has a great view of the city. They live alongside a river - and loads of people were out partying along the banks. We watched a beautiful display of fire works - right outside the building - I've never been so close to them before. It was fun - the highlight was when I opened a bottle of champagne and let the cork fly over the balcony (I didn't hear them say "aim for the wall, Sue!" well, I am deaf in one ear). Thomas was worried about me damaging cars. Immediately after popping it I though to myself that was really stupid - I could have hurt someone. No cars or people were injured though! phew.!! We toasted the moon and went home. My first bit of fun in a LONG time!!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Not so good news

Well, after doing research tonight I found that electro therapies are not recommended for facial paralysis and may actually DAMAGE the nerve.
Oh well.
I will keep eating healthy, exercising and massaging my face though!
From what I have read it can take YEARS to recover though.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Whole lotta healing going on...

Today I had a lovely facial massage from a sweet young Taiwanese man...yeah yeah some girls have all the luck. (He's my physical therapist- today was my first appointment with him - I will see him twice a week for however long I need to go). My only (minor) beef was he used Johnson & Johnson Baby Oil. He was going to use the lotion which I REALLY can't stand (I am kind of allergic to perfume). A female PT suggested I bring my own oil next visit. On the way home I found a health food store that carried organic NEXT time my boi can grace my face with some sweet smelling Jojoba Oil. Ah...

I'm supposed to massage my face 3 times a day. "Sean" taught me the technique...first you stroke, then you knead, then you scrunch up your face and pretend you're playing the piano all over your face! Cute eh?

Before the massage I had electro muscle stimulation on my face for 15 minutes. Sean explained that it won't heal the paralysis but it will help improve my muscle tone.

He told me that in order to heal I must think positive and pray. I told him I sometimes get down about my face. "No no no," he said , "You MUST be positive...and pray, pray to God." Then he said "God bless you," when I left. I'm so glad HE'S my PT. Such a sweet soul.

I also had my electro- acupuncture. I love all this pampering! This hospital (it's called the Tzu Chi Buddhist Hospital) is SUCH a find. I LOVE IT!! It's so calming, I can't tell you how good I feel there. It's a 180 degree turn from the frenetic pace of western hospitals (not that I don't APPRECIATE American hospitals - well the staff anyway, I do). It takes an hour and a half to get there, but it is SO worth it.

After acupuncture I went to the food court for the first time and found a fantastic vegetarian buffet at the "Minder Cafe." The food was FANTASTIC. The BEST vegetarian meal I've ever had.

I left the hospital feeling SO good!!!

I came home and had a "coffee break," ok that's code for a coffee enema. It works (as a detoxifier) I am NOT joking. I juiced 5 huge carrots and ginger...yum. Yes I drank it, I didn't shove it up my bum, ok? I was feeling really really pumped (you DO get a caffeine buzz, but it's NOT the same as drinking a quart of coffee!! Yes I do take in a quart and hold it for 15 minutes! Yikes. I know I know too much info....).

Loving life at this point, I headed for the gym where I worked out HARD for one hour. I jogged and did the mountain climber machine (that's what I call it - the slidy thing - not the elliptical trainer). Anywho, I burned 400 calories! Yahoorama.

I have been praying like crazy lately. I can tell that others (you?) are praying for me. I can feel it- truly. It has changed my life - having so much faith, and having the WORLD pray for me (it feels that way). One prayer that I say more and more is simply, "thank you, thank you God." I have an attitude of gratitude. (I heard a voice inside tell me: "you need an attitude of gratitude, girl." So I listened).

Tonight - I started to feel little twitches and tiny bits of pain in my face. It's the first time I have felt this sensation. I am SO EXCITED!!!

Today is the BEST I have felt since my surgery - which was only seven weeks ago. It's all coming together now: the praying (yes,that includes YOUR PRAYERS as I mentioned), my diet/detoxifying, the acupuncture and now PT - physical therapy that is, but yeah, the other PT, along with his beautiful soulmate, Rachel, have healed my life... Of course, being at HOME with Sujoy and Anjoli has made ALL the difference in the world.

I feel good. I KNEW that I would...eventually.

Monday, September 17, 2007

This post has nothing to do with ME and my face!


I MUST say...kudos to the EU for taking on the Bill Gates.
Darn right Microsoft is monopolizing the market. I wonder what the effect of the suit will be?

Ok that's as deep as I get.
I have been carrying around the cutest list in my purse for months now. It's getting all tattered so I better hurry up and share it. I came across it on a teacher's desk one day while subbing for a First Grade class in San Diego so the kids were 6-7 years old. (Yes I am a nosey, but it wasn't like she was hiding it or anything...). The school was located in a low-income area. The last one is my favorite. Poor babe must have privacy issues...

What would you buy with $100?

1. A big house
2. A picture of me and my mom
3. A bike
4. A car
5. Toys for me, flowers for my mom
6. A car, I think
7. Clothes
8. 100 Apples :)
9. A house to live in
10. Matches in case my stove doesn't work
11. New clothes that I always liked
12. A bike
13. A house
14. A car
15. Candy
16. A bathroom, extra bathrooms, some baby bathrooms for my baby sisters with little doors. :)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Adventures in Chinese Medicine

So yesterday Anjoli had a day off from school. (She has today off also).
My goal since arriving is to start mega treatments of acupuncture to speed along the healing of my facial paralysis (it looks like Bell's Palsy). Our friend and Sujoy's partner's mom recommended I visit a Buddhist run hospital - it's VERY FAR from our apartment.

Getting there was a bit of an tricky, but fun! I told Anjoli it's like finding buried treasure via the subway! I love the challenge of going somewhere new. First we took a cab to the MRT (subway) station. Of course he took the long way but whatever. Five NT more big deal.

Anjoli and I checked out the route - I thought I figured it out but it was a bit confusing. While looking at a map while on the train, I asked someone if I needed to get off the train at the next stop to change lines. She said yes, (then I remembered that even when people don't really understand you, they often just nod and say yes to save face- even though I am the dope that should know Mandarin).

When we got off the train, it still didn't seem right, so I asked ANOTHER woman if she knew the route to Dapinglin station. "What? She said, "you want to eat dumplings? You hungry?" NO! I need acupuncture! Hospital! No dumplings!!! I didn't say that, of course, I just led her to the subway map and pointed to our destination. "Oh!" she said, "you needed to stay on the train!"

So we waitied for the next (correct) train, got off at our stop, then had trouble exiting. Turns out I didn't pay enough for the fare, so we went to a worker there and I had to pay $10NT each more for our tokens. It's so cool - they have these plastic tokens that you scan and it reads the fare. Weird.

So we went up to the street and looked for a shuttle for the hospital. Um...I neglected to find out exactly WHERE to take the shuttle, so we just took another cab. I pointed to the address on their brochure/schedule and we got there in less than 5 minutes.

The hospital was HUGE and BEAUTIFUL. As we entered there were lots of plants, a huge mural of the Buddha smiling over ill folks and lovely, serene flute music playing in the background. I have never felt so good to be in a hospital. No sign of concrete anywhere - just wood (looked like bamboo) and gorgeous Asian art and Chinese calligraphy. (Made me realize I would LOVE to learn Chinese brush painting which looks deceptively easy but it is so beautiful and soothing to the eye).
The registration forms were in English, but a volunteer led me right to the front of the line and a woman behind the counter walked me through the form. Immediately a patient in line chimed in to help as her English wasn't so great. At one point, I thought they asked me: "white?" So I said, "yes, I'm white!" as in Caucasian. "No no! they said, "Do you drink wine?" OH!!! "Nope," I proudly answered, "no more!" no no no. It's not even a thought at this stage in my life. No smoking either. Angelic Sue, c'est moi.

So we made our way to the Chinese/Integrated medicine floor (the hospital is mainly a Western Medicine/Conventional hospital). We had to wait over 2 and a half hours to see the doctor. Poor Anjoli! Good thing I fed her a big grilled cheese sandwich before coming....and she had a snack.

The doctor (a woman) was excellent. Very kind and efficent. I showed her my surgical report. She was kind of taken aback, I could tell. I told her the doctors said it "may" take 6-8 months for my face to come back (the left side). That was unacceptable to her. She told me she wanted me to come see her 3 times a week, but to ALSO go for Rehabilitation Therapy (Physical Therapy) on the same days and they would do muscle stimulation on my face (which is exactly what I had done in Massachusetts, but I only made one appointment).

I had one half hour of acupuncture - she used electrodes on the needles on my face as well, so it was a weird sensation. The good news was I felt an itch coming on on my left side of my face! I took that as an excellent sign. She also inserted a needle in my left hand between my thumb and index finger - I believe that is to help with my insomnia. She told me she can help me with my insomnia- phew! I did sleep REALLY well too, but I still took my Ativan, which I will wean myself off of very very soon, now that I will be busy and on a good sleep schedule. I am asleep by 10:30 now and up every day at 6:30. Perfect.

We didn't get home until 7:00 - we left at 12:45! Oh well. Next time it will be quicker. I have a yellow card which I show to the nurse and I just will immediately go for acupuncture (with an appointment of course).

I am HUGELY relieved that I will get a combination of eastern and western medicine. It's a huge trek but that's fine by me. I have all the time in the world to heal! I have been eating a "caveman's diet," lots of organic grains, almonds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, coconut water, veggies (not enough probably), fruit,plain yogurt, fish. Barely any meat but I did have chicken and a bit of shaved meat in my hot pot dinner the other night. Eggs, salmon. ALL good stuff. I also started, yes, I know people think it's freaky, but I am taking coffee enemas. They helped me get pregnant I swear (I also cleaned up my diet).
It's an adventure in healing.

I'm drinking organic apple cider vinegar in water - two caps full in a cup of water. It's supposed to give you energy. I feel a little more awake, but I sure would love a cup of coffee! I am too paranoid to drink it now for fear that I won't be able to sleep at night. I just want to cut out all caffeine.

Oh another thing, I have been BUGGING out because my left eye is SO dry since it doesn't blink that often due to the palsy. The weight helps a bit. This morning, I am happy to report that it is pretty teary (it still feels odd with the weight in my eyelid- I hope to have it removed ASAP).

Oh and of course, I pray like crazy. I am still confused about religion and going to/finding a church. I have DEEP faith on my own, but I do recognize that it is important to give thanks and praise to God and show respect by making the effort of going to church. Plus it is nice to be a part of a community. Being surrounded by Buddhist nuns and volunteers, I felt so much at home. I am very eastern minded, spiritually. I want to explore Buddhism, but still hold onto my love for Christ. While waiting for the doctor, I realized I can of course do both. Buddhism is more of a philosophy, a way of life. People do not pray to Buddha (I don't think) he wasn't God. But they DO believe in God, they just do not believe in an afterlife - they believe in reincarnation. That's the rub for me, because so do I! Yikes.
That would really set off a die hard Christian. Oh well. This is Sue. I never do things the easy way.

This is long, I know. I don't expect anyone to read it all! If you do, bless your heart.
Lots of love to you all,

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Sue the insomniac

Ok it's 4:30 a.m. here in Taipei. I have been up all night because I took a 4 hour nap yesterday. Ah well. It will take time to adjust. I am now 12 hours ahead of eastern time.

I am finally in a good place after feeling suicidal and ending up in a psych ward! I thought it would be a place where I could get HELP or SOMETHING. Well I did get something, but let me tell you, the mental health care in the U.S. in abysmal. I don't think things have changed much since One Flew Over the Cukoo's Nest . I need to read the book now. Truly it was similar to the movie, EXCEPT, I must say there were NO Nurse Cratchetts - the counselors were fantastic - one was even coaching me on how to get out. Even the nurse who checked me in thought I'd be out in no time (she knew I didn't "belong" there). Well, I was sent 75 miles from my cousin's house on a Saturday, after spending all day Friday in the ER. Things do not start moving until Monday. They do not let the patients out for supervised walks (unless you ask for "level one" as I learned and had to wait forever to ask the psychiatrist for it). Only 3 of us were given permission out of um, maybe 20 people?

The patients do NOTHING all day. They MAYBE have one half hour "group" session per day but they were pretty lame. The place was FREEZING - I didn't have any warm clothes and had to beg for a jacket (they have a room of donated clothing - mostly men's) from my roommate who hoarded all the warm clothes. She was elderly and very ill - not able to keep weight on, but don't worry she had a thick sweatshirt and wasn't using the jacket.
Our room was an ICEBERG so I slept (when I slept) with three blankets. My roomie was an absolute angel - and I am praying for her. She has dementia (a bit) and is an alcoholic.
She doesn't really remember how she got there (she did call 911). She told me she arrived without pants and that someone took her clogs. I don't think she was wearing them when she arrived, but I just listened to her. Poor lady was diabetic and incontinent.
She told me: "You have to tell me how you pull the toilet paper so evenly." So Sue, being a bit of a brat said, "Oh yeah - it's a real art!" OK that wasn't nice. I did in fact SHOW her my techinque though! Ok I know this is weird! Funny though.

I briefly saw the psychiatrist on Sunday. He said, "I read your note." WHAT NOTE???? (Later I figured out that the crisis counselor in Plymouth "fibbed" a bit to get insurance coverage because you have to be legitamately suicidal to get coverage! Which, when you think of it, makes sense). He told me, "ok, no more talk about THAT," since he probably realized that I hadn't written a note. He gave me the feeling that I would be dischargesd soon and that he would work on it "100%."

On Monday, my social worker told me that the plan was to discharge me on Wednesday.
I was told I would meet with the shrink (it's easier to spell that!) later that day. I was a BIT anxious to say the LEAST. I kept hounding the poor man and all the counselors that morning and afternoon. I was bugging out - even though friends told me to be cool and I would be released quicker. When the shrink finally saw me, he told me I was being irrational and that he would consider my case on a "day to day basis." !!!!!!!!!!!!
Oh man. I was just beside myself at that point. I didn't think God was listening to me, even though I prayed like a maniac.
BUT! Prayers were answered when my wonderful friends Prakash and Asha came to visit.
Prakash went to university with my husband in India. We haven't really been in touch for a long time though, but Sujoy had been in contact w/him when he learned I was in trouble.
Sujoy has the BEST friends (and they are mine now also, thank goodness). They are always there for us.
I was SO tired that night from not sleeping at all the night before, so I actually called Prakash and told him that I was going to sleep. So, I was in bed when a nurse told me that a beautiful Indian couple were there to visit - and asked if I wanted to see them. I jumped out of bed of course!
They were my only visitors during the whole stay (but I got a million phone calls).
I was ELATED and can't go into details, but I had been feeling EXTREMELY anxious/ guilt ridden for a "good" reason.
They stayed for an hour talking to me about Jesus. As a Catholic, I never really understood Jesus. They really enlightened me, and we prayed and I knew I would be forgiven. I finally had peace and faith that I WOULD get out of that place on Wednesday. Even though I told Prakash not to bother coming, he did, because "something" told him to come anyway. Yes, their visit really was an answer to my prayers.

After they left Sujoy (hubby) called and calmed me down. I went back to my room and wrote a 2 page "plan" which I showed to the shrink the next day. "Good," he said in his Russian accent, "I see you have a plan - I like that." He agreed to discharge me on Wednesday.

I was free to go on by 10:30 on Wednesday, but I had to wait until 8:00 pm for Prakash to pick me up on his way back from a business trip in Maine. That was the LONGEST day of my life!

I tried to play "matchmaker" while I was there. There was a severly depressed older man there who only talked to my sweet roommate. I always ate with my roommate but one day I asked if he would like to eat with her. (She was so weak that she couldn't carry her tray from the shelves where the food was delivered, so I always got her tray for her). He was so happy and smiled when I brought her tray over to his table. He told her that she was the only one who wasn't "role playing" which was probably true. I hope she's ok.

I learned so much from my stay - I am SOOOO grateful that I AM sane and my brain is now functioning fully. I pray for those poor patients every day. It was SO depressing seeing people in that state (I could relate to some of them though). I was anxious/irrational at my cousin's for a number of reasons- a huge one being coming off of presrcibed drugs such as steroids, painkillers and 12 hours worth of anesthesia. Imagine the toxins floating around my body. The OTHER reason is my own - I was so restless. I don't have lovely crafty hobbies - I don't have any hobbies really! I love to read, but was too depressed and anxious to read. I don't watch tv
(except for a few choice shows). I cannot be a couch potato because...I can't! I used to be a long time ago though! I could only walk so was hard being in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do...but I am DO appreciate that my cousin TRIED to take care of me. She did her best and she's a great cook, but I needed more emotional support. I really needed my husband, but he couldn't stay any longer (he wouldn't get paid!) and Anjoli needed to start school.

Hubby and Anjoli had to leave for Taiwan on my birthday, on August 17th. We said goodbye, I put on my brave face....then his flight to NY got cancelled and they couldn't leave until August 19th. Talk about torture - having to say goodbye twice!

Anyway, this is very long I know and probably boring. I had such a nice, peaceful stay with Prakash and Asha. I ate YUMMY (mostly vegetarian) Indian food. Asha is a total health freak so she coached me with lots of remedies for depression and fatigue. We prayed every night - even their 11 year old son prayed for me every night. I left feeling spiritually, physically and mentally refreshed and renewed.

I had three good visits with my old friends who live in the same area as Prakash and Asha. Ursula was a doll and took me to a Renaissance fair in Carver, Mass. Her husband Frank is an actor in it every year. I was so out of it though and had NO energy. It's a wonderful fair. The HUGE favor she did was help me collect all my stuff from my cousin's house which was nearby (and very far from where I was staying with my friends).
My friend Miriam met me in Boston and took me back to her house in Newton so I got to see her husband, Frank who is a hoot. He is a (jazz and blues) music critic/writer and always has fun stories to tell. He gave me a cd of a famous folk singer (her writing was on the cd even) which hasn't been released yet. I better not say who it is - I don't want to get Frank in trouble! I like this singer alot, even though I only have one of her cds. Now I have two! I also spent a day with my friends Ashwin and Sonia and had a blast playing with their adorable 5 year old daughter. I tried to play this game with her. She is so smart - it was too logical for me (recommended age was 7-adult). I just couldn't get it at all- so I told her that I just had brain surgery - and she said "Oh I know," and she quietly put the game away. Very sensitive and sweet of her. She drew me a beautiful flower and made a "Happy Snail" tracing her thumb and part of her hand. Kids are great therapy.

[EDIT: Oh man oh man how could I forget my dear, sweet wonderful friend Laura who gave up a day of her life, risking life and limb driving around the circle of death at LAX. She was there when I got off my Delta flight at 10:30 am, and stayed with me until I boarded my China Airlines flight at 3:30 pm. What a gal, quelle pal. We had a delish lunch, of course Laura had to one up me with her "cheeseburger" sans the burger! Cute, ay? I wish her luck in her job search- I know she will land a fab job in the film biz soon. She has a cool media (music and film) blog now, check it out: LMS].

So here I am in Taipei -very happy to be here. In New England I was having mixed feelings about leaving the US. But home is where the heart is, and my heart is with my wonderful little family.