2022 Surprises

Image by Manfred Richter from Pixabay

2022 is almost gone and 2023 will be here soon. And I will be one year older, but not any wiser. And life is largely the same old same old forever. When I was young and impressionable, I often indulged myself in the thinking that some exciting surprises would happen in the future, but now as I got older, I don’t even imagine that anymore. I have enough experiences to know that the same old same old is stability and comfort, while surprises may not be as good as I would want them to be.

Anyway, 2022 did bring surprises, some good and some not so good. I have to say I really didn’t expect these things to happen. According to common sense, or conventional wisdom, or my thought pattern, these things should not happen, but they did. I guess I just presumed wrong and reality didn’t turn out as I had expected.

Three Stores

Remember my friend M, who opened three stores in New Jersey? I talked about him in my previous posts. He didn’t know much English, but he was very determined to become a store owner and expand his business. Actually there are no shortage of small business owners in the Asian community here working savagely hard to grow their business, ending up owning restaurants, nail salons, hair salons etc. M wanted to become one of them, and for a time, he almost achieved it. Last year, he opened his third store in Jersey City, very close to the waterfront, which is a great location. Business is all about location, location, location. I thought he finally turned a corner and could live a life of a happy small business owner. However, this illusion is short lived. Now he lost two of his stores. One of the reasons is that he can’t count on his wife to be his loyal and efficient partner. The two has had a stormy relationship since they got married. They can’t manage the stores together since they can’t stand each other. Even though they will never divorce, they can’t seem to cooperate.

Another reason is that he became the victim of identity theft during the summer. The thief stole his cell phone number, his email account, and forwarded his mail to a new address. It took him a while to sort everything out. And in order to prevent the thief from draining his account, he had to give up his business bank account and let his business partner take over. His business partner took this opportunity to force him to give up his half of the store. So now M is taking time off to recuperate from all these setbacks and quietly lick his wounds.

Asian Grocers

With inflation staying all time high most of the year, I thought all the Asian grocery stores are doing extremely well for themselves. From rice, soy powder, to dragon fruits, everything is at least twice as expensive. Shoppers complain about the price increase quietly and loudly, but to no avail. We still have to buy red bean for $4 a pound.

To my surprise, none of the Asian grocery stories around here are doing well at all. Although the price is higher, the fruits and vegetables are less fresh than before. I am not saying that we used to have really fresh fruits or vegetables since we never did. All our fruits and vegetables look like they have been staying on the self in a store in New York City for a week before they are transported to New Jersey. I’ve been used to consume these “second week” fruits and vegetables. However nowadays, they look like they are about to expire. Just look at the eggplants. They look like they are about to go rotten. The purple yams all wrinkled up. And the napa cabbages all have brown spots…

Probably the fact that people are buying less grocery due to the inflation has started a bad cycle for the New Jersey grocers, who cannot negotiate favorable pricing with their wholesalers in New York City or something like that.

Language

I stumbled on some Thai language videos which only talks Thai in beginner level. Yes, after one and half years of learning, I am still at the beginner level in Thai. These videos have no scripts. Two people talking with their hands and arms gesticulating to show you what they are talking about. They also have a whiteboard, on which they can draw what they are talking about.

I thought I would never be able to learn a language without a script. However recently I changed my mind. I realized that I can understand about half of what these two people in the videos are talking about. So it is possible to learn a language without a script. Only listening to talks and watching props can convey the message or the story to one’s brain. I was very pleasantly surprised.

Books

I really dislike Philip Roth’s misogyny. Wait, I can’t stand him when he blames women for all the troubles in his life. However it is quite surprising that I still like his books. I especially like his description of the Jewish community in Newark. I have to say a lot of what he said about Newark Jews are reflected in Asian immigrant communities too.

23 thoughts on “2022 Surprises

  1. Wishing M a better year ahead. Hope things work out for the better. And prices going up and quality coming down is very prevalent in many places. And there’s little choice but to accept it. Love reading your thoughts and opinions, Haoyan. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, wishing a better 2023. Yes, the inflation is causing a shrink in quantity and a decline in quality and it is not a pleasure anymore to go to the grocery store since one has to think about the price all the time.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. 2022 went by fast. I can’t believe how expensive things are these days with no sign of things changing. And I feel bad for M, he seems to have suffered so many setbacks. And his marriage seems very toxic. I never understand why people think living together and being miserable is better than getting a divorce.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, things are getting quite expensive. I recently find that the soy powder is doubling its price too. LOL. Poor M. He is having problem again today with his groupon account. He seems to be having problems all the time. Some people are disaster prone and he is certainly such kind of people.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I am noticing a pattern when it comes to supplies and food. In poorer areas, the vegetables are not as fresh nor are the stores well-supplied, but in richer areas everything is better. I usually shop in a working class neighborhood and I can hardly get what I or my family wants. A few times I shop in richer neighborhoods and everything is fresh and well-stocked.

    Maybe Princeton might be better than Edison?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is especially the case for Asian stores here, which only sell leftover veggies of New York City. It is so unfair. I mean living near a big city, one is forced to become a scavenger to serve the big city people. We need fresh veggies, but there’s no use to protest. I mean NYC gets all the good goodies and we only get the leftovers. My friend who lives in Flushing, New York, can munch on the freshest food half of the price of what I can get here. It is so unfair.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing these things with us. It looks like we are getting old vegetables here too. I am sorry about all the trouble your friend is having with his business. Politics is a dirty business. I don’t think the answer to people’s problems rests with the ones who have control. They made the mess in the first place.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes – like you I assumed that you need a script and grammar books to learn a language. Yet in my case I’ve got quite a good feel for Welsh just by listening to songs. Although I did use a dictionary as well and already had some basic knowledge from a teach-yourself book. I suppose illiterate people have been picking up foreign languages for millennia, so the aural/visual method must work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a beautiful way to learn a language–through songs. I know people in Southeast Asia who can pick up several languages just by being friends with different people. They have no grammar books or reading material. Well, they probably do have those, but will never use them.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. 2022 is nearly behind us and consigned to the ashes, the one thing I do know is that I look forward to reading the adventures of your family members in 2023, there fortunes and misfortunes, their idiosyncrasies and hopes and plans for the future.

    Liked by 2 people

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