hapa in an asian grocery store

it's been a little while since i last posted.  i've honestly been wondering if i really have anything else to write about or if this blog is really worthwhile.  i've heard that lots of bloggers feel this way.  i'm curious to know what really keeps people blogging.  at one point in time, this blog and blog subject seemed like a really good idea and that seemed a good enough reason to start.  but to continue seems like another story altogether.   i suppose the fact that i decided to begin this blog will keep me motivated to continue for now but i wonder how many more posts will really be posted.
as i write, i'm trying to finish off a late lunch of leftovers made into fried rice.  i don't make asian food as often as i'd always imagined i would as an adult.  it's funny how i grew up eating it (or some fusion of it) almost everyday but then as an adult, i've had to relearn how to make the things i've always loved growing up.  i went to an asian grocery store yesterday and picked up some new and old favorites... panang curry sauce (old) and gai lan (new).  we had the gai lan (a kind of chinese broccoli) in our chicken stir-fry for dinner last night and i think i'm growing an obsession with it.  anyway, at asian grocery stores i always experience contrasting feelings.  on one hand, i feel a sense of being at home, especially if there are a lot of korean and japanese products in the store.  i feel the familiarity that any asian would as i scan many products i know well and have spent night after night of my youth with, on the dinner plate.  on the other hand, i feel a foreigner.  there are things i see that i'm completely clueless about.  and i cannot speak the language of the  store owners or workers.  i always feel like i should be able to but can't.  and i almost always feel like they look at me as an outsider.  i am quiet when i check out and do not share the same conversations that i see some of the other asian customers sharing with whoever is checking them out.  sometimes, i find myself just looking at jar after jar or packet after packet, trying to figure out how i would use it or cook with it.  i feel this sense of knowing and unknowing at the same time and it is both comforting and frustrating.  in a previous post i wrote that being hapa doesn't mean being just half of two different wholes, but that 1 plus 1 equals 2.  i do believe i am both asian and caucasian but when i'm in the asian grocery store i truly have the sense of only having half of what i need.  i'll look down aisle after aisle somehow always expecting to find the other half around the corner.  and then, i usually leave without it, ready for my next trip back as if each trip is a new scavenger hunt and learning experience.  yesterday, i experienced all of these confusing feelings yet again but i am happy to say i came home with my first purchase of gai lan and something new to post about.