I can’t be expected to pick five single books, so most of these are an entire series. That makes it easier to limit my choices!
5. Abhorsen Series–Garth Nix
4. Immortals Series–Tamora Pierce
3. His Dark Materials–Phillip Pullman
2. A Tale of Time City–Dianna Wynne Jones
1. Song of the Lioiness–Tamora Pierce
So many people stumble onto this blog looking for info on Taiwan, I figured I should provide some actual information. Here are five things you should know before coming to Taiwan!
5. Food…comes when it comes
When you go out to restaurant with friends, you expect everyone will get their food at once, right? Nope. In Taiwan, it comes when it’s ready. There’s no putting plates under heat lamps until the rest of the food is cooked. If it’s done, it goes to the table. On the plus side, everything is hot, but on the minus, be prepared to wait 20 minutes before everyone else is served. And that drink you ordered? If it’s fancy, you might not get it until after your meal.
4. Receipt Lottery
SAVE YOUR RECEIPTS!! Every one is like a lottery ticket, and if you’re going to 7-11 as much as you should (see #5) you’re accumulating plenty of chances to win. The drawings are held on the 25th of every other odd month. On July 25th will be the drawing for receipts from May-June. You might not win the big prize, but you only need to match three digits to win. It’s free money!!!
If you don’t look like you belong, people are going to stare. In Taipei, it’s more subtle, but the more rural you go, the more you’ll notice it. In Penghu, I felt like a zoo animal. It’s also fun when people take your picture, or walk up to you and make you take pictures with their children. Smile!
4. Random Parades
Fireworks and processions are the norm. Expect streets blocked with drum floats and effigies and thundering firecrackers on a regular basis. I’m forever trying to find out the reason for these. My Taiwanese friends say “It’s some god’s birthday.”
Learn to love your 7-11. You may think it’s ridiculous when there’s one on each corner (I can pick from four store locations on my five minute walk to work) but you can never have too many. Eat, order taxis, make copies …the convenience is addictive!
I recently dug out my folders and notebooks of project ideas, and I was like….whaaa? How did you think of these things, brain?
It was the strangest thing. I thought of all these ideas and plotted a few of them out, and I have no memory of them. Plus…they’re really weird. Lots of girls with sucky powers, zombies, and half-finished thoughts that I wrote half-asleep.
China. Spaceships. Go back in time with the boy.
Isn’t that shaping up to be the greatest story ever??? It amuses me that I NEEDED to write that down, probably getting out of bed because I thought of the next NYT bestselling record-breaker. Right. Don’t anyone steal that idea, now.
I love making lists, and I’m going to start doing one every Friday. This week, my five favorite anime series! It was tough to weed this down to five, but these are the ones I’d be most likely to recommend (if I knew anyone else that liked anime).
5. Ouran High School Host Club
Ouran is hilarious. It’s a reverse harem, with a girl surrounded by six guys, who all represent tropes in shoujo anime. The heroine, Haruhi, is my favorite. She has no interest in all the foolishness, and mostly wants to eat and study. A girl after my own heart!
4. Sword Art Online
Just a couple of kids trapped in a VR game. Every time I watch this, I wonder when we’re getting this technology. The emotions are spot on, and I loved that it was a realistic harem, with a legit, and fulfilling romance plot. Can we get more stories like this??
My favorite “sports” anime. The heroine, Chihaya, is called a muda-bijin, or a beauty in vain. The only thing she cares about is playing karuta. We get some romance in the background, but Chihaya is too focused on her goals to pay much attention to boys. I love that! And I also feel the need to learn Japanese poetry now…
2. Code Geass
I hesitated starting this series for a long time, because I’m not a fan of political/military anime, and I couldn’t imagine it was as good as everyone claimed. But…amazing. I cried. I do not cry. Geass has a lot to say about changing an imperfect world–always relevant.
This is the Game of Thrones of anime. Two ninja clans battle it out to the death, shattering all the lives involved. Again, I cried. One of the most heartbreaking romance stories ever. I have the most love/hate relationship with the ending…I won’t spoil it though. WATCH THIS.
So I’ve officially been in Taiwan for a year! I went home for a few months, came back, and here we are.
I’ve gotten so used to musical garbage trucks, squat toilets, sun umbrellas, and 7-11′s that I forget how different things are here. It’s comfortable now. Minus the heat. The heat is never comfortable.
I’ve been writing like a fiend and have a lot of super exciting irons in the fire. I’m finally writing a project I’ve been brainstorming for years (which is close to my heart and as autobiographical as I’m ever going to get) and have a MONSTER collaboration in the works.
And in other news, I AM BEING PRODUCTIVE. About time.
I leave you with my favorite gif of Taiwan. Somehow, I’m not surprised that this happened.
Most of you who read my blog know me in real life and already know my connection to lacrosse. I’ve played most of my life, including a crazy college career that I wouldn’t trade for anything. When I graduated and started the 9-5 thing, I missed the game, and in 2009 I left my job to get my MFA in writing. I went to Seton Hill University, which had an amazing program in popular fiction, and a graduate assistantship for me to coach lacrosse.
Our first season was rough. Coach T had just taken over the team, and she was the first “real” coach the team had ever had. We had players who’d never played lacrosse before, and if they won two or three games a season it wasn’t too awful. We couldn’t run a zone defense, or a clear press…we were just trying to catch the ball.
In 2010 we told the freshmen, just wait until you’re seniors. If everyone keeps working like this, the team will be amazing. That was our first winning season.
I graduated in 2011. Soon after, Coach Kristina Quigley took over the team. Under her guidance 2013 was shaping up to be the greatest year yet.
I was heartbroken when I heard about the crash. I know those girls. I coached them, recruited them, and kept following their stats after I left the team. After the shock, when I could stop shaking and crying, I stared at my computer for a numb few hours, waiting for more news. Who else was hurt?
I’m so thankful that it wasn’t worse. Even though I didn’t know Coach Quigley well, I know she’d be thankful that her girls will recover from their bruises and broken bones. Losing Coach Quigley won’t be healed so easily.
It’s a tragedy to lose such a caring woman, dedicated coach, and mother.
I’m sad for the girls for so many reasons. I can only imagine what they’re going through, and losing some or all of their season makes it that much worse. It’s trivial really, when you consider what could’ve happened, but I think the world deserves to know how hard these girls—and especially the seniors, Morgan, Rachel, Kate, and Alec—have worked. You would’ve seen all that effort on their scoreboards this year.
It’s amazing to see the lacrosse community rally around Seton Hill. It proves how tightly knit we are in the sport, and how compassionate. Too often, lacrosse receives negative attention. Go to the Play for Seton Hill Facebook page and tell me these aren’t wonderful people. It’s run by players from another school, and programs all over the country are wearing red and gold ribbons, and donating to Gavin Quigley’s scholarship fund. These are the same programs that will play games to raise money for suicide awareness, breast cancer, autism, and other charities, but no one ever hears about that.
This sport is full of amazing people.
To the girls at Seton Hill: I’m so proud of you. Always have been.
You’ve overcome so much to get where you are today…remember the tornado that hailed golf balls on our practice? Or in May 2010, that first time so many of you saw New York City, and we were on the verge of another tragedy. All of those morning practices in the snow when you were exhausted and your hands were half-frozen to your sticks. Shoveling the turf. Losing games that came so close. Winning after more overtimes than we could count.
You are so strong. You can keep going.
I can’t play for you anymore, but I will write for you. I added this to my lacrosse book. You know? The one I already stole all of your names for? Someday I’ll finish it and show the world this amazing lacrosse family of ours.
It’s been a long time and a lot of traveling, but I’m finally back in the U.S.
I’m terrible at posting regular updates, but I’ve gone to tons of amazing places in the past few months. About 3,000 photos worth of amazing places. Here are the ones that have stuck with me the most!
Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan
A peaceful oasis in the center of Taiwan. We hiked up to get this view over the lake and hills at sunrise.
Martyr’s Shrine, Taroko Gorge, Taiwan
A shrine to the workers killed during the construction of the road through Taiwan’s mountains. The waterfall cuts under the temple.
Tiger Temple, Kanchanaburi, Thailand
Playing with the baby tigers was my favorite part of the day-long program at the temple.
Kao Shan Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Just about all that needs to be said about Bangkok! Why would they bother to check I.D.’s when you can buy them at the stalls outside?
Angkor Thom, Siem Reap, Cambodia
One of my favorite photos of Angkor Thom, mainly because it is one of the few without other tourists. Every corner is packed with people during peak times.
Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia
I went to Cambodia to see the Angkor temples, and I wasn’t disappointed. Watching the sun rise over the central temple was amazing.
Ta Prohm (the Tomb Raider Temple), Siem Reap, Cambodia
None of my pictures do it justice, but Ta Prohm took my breath away. The trees have taken over the complex, and it makes everything that much more beautiful.
Tonle Sap Floating Village, Cambodia
This one opened my eyes. The area is so beautiful and so rich in resources, but the people are so poor. You wouldn’t know it from their friendly smiles.
Choeung Ek (the killing fields), Cambodia
Thousands of people were executed by the Khmer Rouge at this site, and this tree stands near one of the mass graves where the bodies of women and children were executed. Chilling. Haunting. A terrible history. Visitors leave bracelets and tokens of memory. Most of the red yarn ones have been blessed by Buddhist priests.
Sam Mountain, Chau Doc, Vietnam
Sunset over Sam mountain, from the hammock bar at the summit. Hammock bars are one of the greatest ideas ever. You have a drink, pull up a hammock, and watch the sun set!
Boating along the river. This area of Vietnam is dominated by the Mekong, where boats and the fishing industry are everywhere.