Life Really Does Take Visa

VISA credit card

It was supposed to be a simple thing.

All I wanted was to have a quick and delicious bowl of noodles at a nearby restaurant.

That was it. That was all it was supposed to be.

Armed with my Kindle and my American Express, it was a typical excursion in eating lunch on my own. Nothing was out of the ordinary that day; my food at my restaurant of choice arrived promptly and was delicious as always.

Then it came time to pay the bill.

“I’m sorry miss, but we don’t take American Express.”

Oh.

I hadn’t taken my wallet with me; I had literally only grabbed my AmEx and ran out the door. (I can’t remember exactly why, but I think it was because my purse was jammed full with a bunch of heavy stuff that I didn’t want to cart around with me, and I was too hungry to deal with sorting it out before getting lunch.) Because I was eating on my own, I basically had no way to pay for my food. But I couldn’t leave the restaurant until I paid.

AWKWARD.

I tried logging into my bank account online to get my card number, but the system was having hiccups and the page I was trying to access was “unavailable at this time.” (OF COURSE.) In desperation, I called my bank. They were very suspicious of possible fraudulent activity, because it’s not every day people are legitimately calling the bank asking for a card number. As I hadn’t taken my wallet with me, everything that the bank representative was asking could only be answered by my memory only, without any forms of documentation nearby to assist me. By that point, I was so flustered that I couldn’t remember anything that was of help to the bank.

Meanwhile, the waiter was getting more and more frustrated with me, although he was doing his best not to show it. Thankfully, I had eaten on the early side of the lunch rush, so it’s not like I was taking up valuable space at my table. But still.

Eventually, my bank told me the card number and I gave it to the waiter. “Expiration date?” he asked expectantly as he punched the numbers into the system.

Oh, God. I hadn’t asked my bank for that.

I closed my eyes and tried to remember. “Um…” I faltered.

If the waiter hadn’t been impressed with me before, he certainly wasn’t now.

Luckily, I was able to remember it correctly and he rang up my transaction without any further problems. Then I ran out of there as fast as I could and vowed to myself that it would be a long, long time before I ever went back there for any meal, because my dignity could only take so much. And that if I ever decided to grab only one of my cards and leave my wallet behind, it would be my Visa, because apparently, life really does take Visa.

(This post is not sponsored by Visa or anyone else, by the way. It is brought to you only by my awkward experience trying to pay for my meal when dining solo.)

Recently Read #5

Recently Read

Imperial Woman

I picked up a lot of books by Pearl S. Buck in a recent sale, so expect to see a lot of her books come up in these posts! The first one I read was Imperial Woman, which is a historical fiction book about Empress Cixi, the last Empress of China. I hadn’t known much about her prior to reading Imperial Woman, except that she was a polarizing historical figure who went further than any woman was ever supposed to go in Chinese society during her time (1835-1908). With charisma, shrewdness and sheer determination, Empress Cixi rose from the position of concubine to Empress Dowager. By giving the late Emperor Xianfeng a son, Tongzhi, Cixi seized the throne for Tongzhi after Xianfeng’s death and ruled as Regent and consolidated power behind the throne. When Tongzhi died, she put her nephew on the throne and continued to rule through him.

Cixi lived during a tumultuous time in China; there were many internal rebellions and invasion by the West was a perpetual imminent threat. Her rise to power paralleled China’s transition from ancient to modern; it wasn’t until her later life that she finally began to accept the reforms she had fought against her entire reign. External and internal pressures, including the burning of the Summer Palace, the Boxer Rebellion, and the invasion of the Allies, were huge motivating factors in Cixi’s eventual acceptance of major institutional change for the Chinese government and even the dynasty. Historical critics accuse Cixi of being a tyrant and a major instigator of the eventual downfall of the Chinese dynasty, which ended three years after her death. However, her supporters point out that during her reign, there were many situations beyond her control and she was made a scapegoat despite stepping in to prevent disorder. Hated by the court and beloved by the people, Empress Cixi was certainly a force to be reckoned with and Buck did a fantastic job depicting a complicated empress in Imperial Woman.

Attachments

The most widely recommended book by Rainbow Rowell amongst my circle of friends, I picked Attachments up after Kirsti recommended it. Set in 1999, Lincoln is an IT guy hired to go through emails that get flagged in a newspaper’s email system. Jennifer and Beth, meanwhile, are happily emailing away in the office, aware but not caring that Lincoln is reading their flagged emails. (I mean, we all agree to Terms and Conditions knowing that everything on the internet is monitored. Does that usually stop us from doing what we want to do on the internet?) Thus begins a charming story about a woman who feels she’s not ready to get pregnant despite her husband desperately wanting a baby, a woman who wants more than anything to be engaged to a man who likely never wants to be married, and the IT guy who begins to fall in love.

Not gonna lie, there was vast potential for this to come across as a little… I don’t know, creepy. However, Rowell writes this story so skillfully that as Lincoln falls in love, so does the reader. I mean, the guy is doing his job, and it’s not like he’s unaware that his job is kind of weird. It’s a very cute story, and I can see why anytime I mentioned that I was reading this book, those who read it immediately exclaimed, “OH MY GOD, I LOVE ATTACHMENTS!” And now, I love it too.

Station Eleven

My friend Ashley, who is one of the most prolific readers I know, read Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel recently and said it was one of her favorite books of all time — high praise indeed. Station Eleven is set when society and civilization has collapsed thanks to the Georgia Flu, a virus that wiped out pretty much all of humanity. It begins with the story of fading Hollywood star Arthur and his death while performing King Lear, which took place the day the virus began to grip the world. Twenty years later, a nomadic group of actors roam the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes. As they become caught in the crosshairs of a violent prophet, Mandel weaves the story through past and present, skillfully spinning a web that connects all characters to each other to tell a story of the relationships that hold us together, the fleeting glory of fame and the beauty of the world today.

I read Station Eleven in one night. No joke. It stuck with me, too, for days after I read it. Mandel’s prose is almost poetic at times, and while I’m not really one for post-apocalyptic novels, this one was just… wow. It’s incredibly well written and tightly plotted, the pacing excellent. Despite the focus on a larger-than-average number of main and secondary characters and the fact that the book follows a non-linear timeline, the story is easy to follow and the characters distinct. While at first I wished that the ending had packed a little more… I don’t know. Punch? I later realized that the ending was perfectly suited to the novel, and I’ll be thinking it over for days to come.

Link Love, Vol. 82

link love

Yesterday, even though the forecast wasn’t so stellar, I spent most of my afternoon at the National Mall, specifically the National Museum of American History. I don’t take advantage of living in DC close to so many stellar (and free!) museums as often as I should, and yesterday I decided it was time to change that. I had a great time at the American History museum! I’ll share more about it in an upcoming vlog on my YouTube channel. But I definitely think I’ll be spending more weekend afternoons checking out the museums, because it was much more preferable than spending my afternoon idly flicking through the Netflix catalog.

Entertainment
Anna writes about how Iggy Azalea uses faux-feminism to ignore white privilege.

What Iggy Azalea fails to understand is that people’s issues with her are not necessarily about her being white or a woman—but rather, the cultural and historical significance her presence as a white woman in hip-hop holds. Statements by Questlove were right in suggesting that hip hop isn’t a monolith and that “you have to let go of something you love,” meaning that part of the power of hip hop lies in its global appeal. It can’t be denied as an art form that provides millions of people from around the world and from various backgrounds with a way to express and give voice to their lived experiences and the issues they face. Sri Lankan-British rapper M.I.A. is a great example of the power of hip hop, as she uses the genre to talk about her unique background.

However, Iggy Azalea has done none of this. Instead, she has performed a caricature of hip hop, basing her rap persona on stereotypes of Southern Black women—using Black women’s language, getting praised for having the same physical attributes that millions of Black women have, but we are still deemed as undesirable. And this is what many people find to be problematic about her. That she tries to peddle herself off as an emcee who cares about feminism and women’s empowerment, as she insults and disrespects millions of Black women daily, is why many of us can’t get down with her. And let us not forget her history of tweeting racist slurs, many of them about women of color.

Food
Joy’s winter lemonade sounds amazing.

Life
Why would you ever want to be Liz Lemon when Leslie Knope exists?

Femme Frugality reminds us that hope is the most valuable commodity.

There is no limit to what we are capable of, Stephany reminds us.

Relationships
Tyece shares thoughts from five years of being single.

musicalpoem on YouTube

I’ve been exploring new ideas for my YouTube channel (and even thinking of uploading videos twice a week rather than once!) in addition to the usual beauty stuff I do, so here’s a tag video! It’s been a while since I’ve done a tag video, and what better one to do than the get to know me tag?

My YouTube channel | Subscribe to my channel

Climbing Koko Head Trail

Climbing Koko Head

For one of my first days in Hawaii, my brother took my family and me to Makapu’u Lookout. We attempted to see the sunrise (my brother failed, so we mainly saw the side of a mountain instead) and hiked along the lookout area. At one vantage point, we saw the steps of Koko Head Trail.

“Let’s climb those stairs one day to see the sunset,” my brother suggested. My cousins and I agreed without much thought.

A few days later, we pulled into the parking lot at the base of Koko Head. We craned our necks looking up at the steep trail from the car window, and I began to have second thoughts. My cousins are sporty and my brother does these hikes all the time. I sit at a desk for eight hours a day and have yet to resume running from my attempts at doing so last summer. To say I had reservations about my ability to hike Koko Head would be an understatement.

But my cousin peer pressured me into it (very nicely, I might add) and off to hike Koko Head I went.

Koko Head

As I hiked Koko Head, I could feel the burn in my legs and my breath shorten. My head began to pound and I took more frequent breaks as I got nearer to the top. I took my time crossing the semi-suspended section and almost had to crawl the last steps. But hike the 1,048 steps I did, and as I looked out at Honolulu below me, I was awed not only by the view but my accomplishment in climbing Koko Head.

Koko Head Trail

Till four years ago, I had never hiked a mountain. Since then, I’ve done a lot of things, like hike mountains and trails and jungles. I do it infrequently, and have insecurities about my fitness levels to begin with, but I’ve never not been able to do anything I set my mind to. Koko Head is yet another example of that.

Koko Head Trail #NeverLoseHope

Now, to take up running again…