Whenever I get homesick for the south Bay Area and its gorgeous weather, I log onto Google Maps and look up the places I used to visit as a kid. Admittedly, a lot of the streets aren’t particularly exciting, aesthetically or culturally (unless you think Westfield Valley Fair Shopping Center is the pinnacle of culture), but it’s soothing just to see the familiar sights, bathed in gorgeous California sunshine. (And there are a few streets that have really cool architecture from the 1950s and 1960s… I really wish cities would focus more on saving those buildings than encouraging humongous strip malls.)

Saratoga

When I was in high school, my friends and I would sometimes drive over to Saratoga and study at the Blue Rock Shoot cafe. I love this photo, because it was taken in spring when the blossoms are out and you can see a peek of the hills in the background.

LosGatos

During one summer vacation in college, I worked at a party supplies store in Los Gatos. For some reason, the owner of the chain was really attached to this series of CDs that had nothing but current top one hits — sung by cover bands. You thought “Who Let the Dogs Out” was annoying? Well, it was even more annoying sung by people other than Baha Men. No one bought those freakin’ CDs and customers complained (“Britney Spears sounds a bit off here.”) but he insisted that we keep playing them over the loudspeakers. Argh! My ears are still festering!

PaloAlto

I didn’t visit University Place in Palo Alto a lot when I was a kid (maybe in part because we’re Berkeley people — Go Bears!). I’ve been over there at least once on each of my visits back home in the past couple of years, though. When Ron and I were in California for our wedding back in May, my parents took us to the Cheesecake Factory in Los Gatos after giving us a tour of scenic spots in San Francisco and the south Bay Area (including Stanford, even though it does not compare to Berkeley). It was insane. We’re used to Taiwan portions, so when we saw Cheesecake Factory’s decidedly American-sized servings, our eyes nearly bugged out of our heads. Even my metabolically-gifted husband had to get a doggy bag.

Moonzooom

And last, but not least, Moon Zooom in San Jose! It was the first vintage clothing store I went to in high school after a couple years of visiting thrift stores and flea markets. I remember when my friend at drama camp told me about it (“You mean there is a store filled with nothing but old clothing? YES!”). I was so happy. Vintage clothing wasn’t a big trend yet, so it was like I’d found my people. Shopping there is still almost like a religious experience for me. Once I came home carrying a plain white plastic shopping bag. My Dad took one look at me and said “you’ve been to Moon Zooom, haven’t you?” “What, do I smell like an old lady’s closet?” I asked. “No, but you have that Moon Zooom look on your face,” he said. Hmmm.

Anyway, I’ve been a bit quiet on the blogging and keeping-in-touch front recently because I’m recovering from a cold. Last night I woke up with pressure on my chest and was scared my cold had developed into bronchitis. Turns out, my cat was just using me as a heating pad. Taroko George is getting heavier now. On the other hand, he’s been a good hot water bottle substitute over the last few days, so I guess I shouldn’t begrudge him his comfort when he uses me as a giant heater.

Happy New Year! 新年快樂!