Birth of Changi, the cute elephant

I was supposed to go to dinner with my friends after climbing at Planet Granite. It was around 9pm on the 23rd of August, my 28th birthday. All afternoon I had been checking my phone at every moment I got, for S called me earlier that day saying “It looks like A’s going to give birth either today or tomorrow!” And I was supposed to take pictures of the event. No one was expecting it this early; she was actually due in mid-September.

In the brief minutes that I was distracted from checking my phone, Szilard had texted me again: “Come now! She’s giving birth!” The unread text sat on the screen of my iphone 6, as I was climbing a very tricky yellow-handhold 11B in the corner of the gym. The distraction continued in the form of friends crowding me in a circle, singing happy birthday in the gym during probably the most crowded time of day, as I pretended that I was also singing for someone while turning bright red. Of course they yelled my name really loud, just as A was probably screaming in effort to push a new life into this world.

My friends presented the “cake” aka a bunch of cut fruit in a cake tin, as the nurses placed an equally if not more sweet baby girl into A’s arms. My present had all sorts of fun things in it: figs cut in half, spears of pineapple, bright red strawberries, soft melon, and strips of dried coconut topped with unlit candles. In the same moment, S was gaping with awe at the soft-cheeked baby Changi with a bright red face, struggling to open her brand new eyes to this new world she rushed into. Was it really a good idea she must be thinking to herself? Unsure, she wails as she is placed on her mother’s bosom.

Mostly through my “slice” of the fruit-cake, I casually check my phone, and nearly choke on a piece of coconut. “Guys, I have to go, dinner is cancelled, my niece was just born!” After that, everything happened so fast: I throw my climbing stuff into my bag, jump into D’s car and we race to the curtly instructed location: West Pavilion, Purple Elevator. D drops me off, and I rush in the entrance, past the security guard. Having no idea where I’m going, I just feel my way through the hospital, looking for signs: purple elevator… purple elevator. As if I was being led, the elevator revealed itself in a corner; anyone watching me would probably have thought I knew exactly where I was going. Come on come on… open faster – I thought willing the sliding doors to open already.

Reaching the floor, everything looked calm, but I was anything but that. The lady at the front desk was my last obstacle. “I’m here to photograph the new child, last name is Suto,” I tell her. “Sorry, I can’t hear you, can you come closer?” Ahhhhhhh! But I put on a placid face. “The mother’s name is Arty.. I mean Tatawan Suto.” I say more clearly. The lady bobs her head, pulling out a sharpie as I’m tapping my foot impatiently and slowly writes on a sticker already marked with the date Aug 23: Suite 324. She points to a double doors, hands me the sticker-badge, and I’m on my way through the labyrinth of hallways and adjoining rooms, the 3 by 5 foot white poster board I brought floating like a sail in my right hand. I wanted to be prepped with a light reflector in case the lighting was awful.

I finally reach the door and knock. For a split second I thought I had the wrong door, as a low-pitched lady voice mumbles, “what?..” Then I hear my cousin S’s masculine voice as the nurse opens the door. He pushes past her and grabs the door wide open, with an even wider grin. I have never seen him happier, and I have known this guy for 25 years.

Let these pictures tell the rest of the story…

A set of meaningful quotes from the first two hours after Changi’s traumatic entrance into our world:

S: “I’m in love” [while holding a sleeping Changi in his arms]
A: “Nothing on my calendar matters anymore…”

Mt. St. Helens – the Edible version

This was a journey requiring 1 hour of shopping, 6 hours of mixing and baking, and 1.5-2 hours of decorating. The idea came out of a weekend getaway in the enchantments. On the drive home, a two hour discussion then turned into reality: a cake in the shape of the famous Mt. St. Helens. It even included spirit lake, the logs, and certain contours around the area. Besides that, all the ingredients except for the tan-sand colored frosting was home-made. The base material was made of a sponge cake, the same as what the Hungarian Dobos Torte is made of. Here is the time-lapse in pictures:

First rough cake-looking part. This will be the main mountain.

Image of one of the thin layers. Kind of falling apart but it will be used!

The frosting I made – It is a mixture of coconut oil and semi-sweet chocolate chunks from trader joes

Spirit lake being created…

Cutting out contours for the glaciers

Bird’s eye view of the contoured mountain. Looks like a mess without frosting and cover up.

Closer image of contours

Frosting starting to be applied

Almost finished, only the vegetation missing now.

Finished! (not the best quality…) this is when we presented it to the birthday boy. Maybe next time I’ll put an explosive in the crater or some dry ice or something.

The birthday boy was really happy for the cake. real man hug 😉

Welcome to Portland, Keepin’ it Weird

Note to self: Thursday night is a bad night to go out if you have work the next morning… in general, that is, but sometimes one needs to make sacrifices. And sometimes those sacrifices are actually worth it, given the experience one has.

Wow I’ve been writing way too many formal documents.. So. Yesterday was my cousin’s birthday. The day I flew to Portland, he picked me up, and asked me if I’d be DD (not drunk driver, but designated driver…) for his birthday. At that point, I was well rested, happy, ready to start work, excited for new things. Didn’t even think about it, said sure, no problem.

Had I thought ahead of time, I would have realized that his birthday is on a Thursday, and he’d want to go out Thursday night. Seems normal, right. Here’s the catch: Thursday != Friday => If I go partying Thursday night, I still have work the next day, and like every other day of the week, I have to wake up at 6am.

So being DD.. means I got home at about 2:30am, went to bed at 3 and got about 3 hours of sleep, and then expected to function the next day. For those people that may not have jumped to this highly intuitive conclusion: BAD IDEA.
But I was willing to make a sacrifice for my cousin, and said, ok, I’ll survive.
And I think It was totally worth it. The experience I had was one synonymous to the title: a kind of taste of night life to Portland, OR, where I finally understand this bumper sticker: “Keepin’ Portland Weird”

Here is the highlight of last night’s adventures:

After going to a conveyor-belt sushi bar, another bar with a lot of game tables, and a dance club called “Dirty”, the token gay guy in our group said: “We need somewhere better,” not that we hadn’t bar-hopped enough already.

We leave the dance club, and walk down the street, passing an outside courtyard area that slightly caught our attention: an outdoor tent area with a “pen” of feathers and mattresses where they had hired three girls dressed in cheer-leader-like clothes who were clearly supposed to be emulating a pillow fight in the middle of a ring of guys.. however, there was no one in there and the girls were obviously bored out of their minds 😀 [weird point no 1]

So here comes [weird point no. 2-infinity] Walking further, i look ahead, and spot a sign in front of a club saying “Female Impersonators”.. think to myself out loud, “what the heck are female impersonators??” The guy i was walking next to just gave me an amused look, and laughed: “..You’ll see :D, ” Ah so that’s where we are going! o_O As we get closer, we start passing more and more people where their genders were highly questionable – in both directions.. females that looked quite convincing, but there was just something not right: large cheekbones, enormous bone structure, fake hair… It’s like spotting a phishing email: if only one thing looks wrong, it’s not necessarily a phish, only if multiple things just create a picture of, oh this can’t be true…and of course, there were slightly smaller stature male-looking females running around everywhere.

We get to the door, and approach the bouncer (I was of course fumbling around my purse trying to find my ID again.. I’ve never used the card so many times..). After checking it with a cursory glance, he takes this huge stamp and infects my right wrist with these words: “Great Dye Job!” LOL. Rainbows to the max..

And inside: dance floor, bar, coat check, tables… all normal.. but they might very well have been upside down, because the inhabitants of this bar completely turned what is considered normality in the normal society, completely upside-down. Groups of these female impersonators dancing like it was no tomorrow, as well as hipster-dressed males.. there was barely one human in there that looked “normal”..

Well, at least gay guy was happy 🙂 I just tried absorbing this scene, and truly enjoyed watching all the weirdness that Portland had offered in just 1 night…

Of course that doesn’t mean I didn’t hate myself the next morning, but the experience was definitely worth it.