Monday, March 28, 2011

March Madness Indeed

I know it's been a while since new content has appeared on Not-a-Fortune. This is due to the confluence of at least three events: 1. moving; 2. travel; 3. lack of material. Luckily, my friends continued to eat Chinese food in the interim and shared their fortune cookie tales with me- including, if you'll believe this, one report of a restaurant that charges twenty cents per cookie! 

While he was moving, my friend BoogieRoc uncovered three cookie inserts - all not-a-fortunes:
"We must become the change we want to see."
[Am I the only one who wonders if Obama was eating Chinese food when his '08 campaign slogan struck him?]

"The really great man is the man who makes everyone feel great."

"Made in the USA"

@CleverTitleTK shared this gem, which apparently came to her at just the right time:
"You are heading in the right direction."
[An actual fortune, I dare say. And: never bad to hear; unless, of course, you're headed down a dead-end road directly into a boiling pit of lava. Then I might suggest doing an about-face.]

This came to me from Tennessee, and as Becky said when she sent it, "Never doubt the power of a fortune cookie! Especially one sent to you from a girl in Nashville :-)"
"Life is a series of choices. Today yours are good ones."

My friend Allison is visiting Disney's California Adventure and last night she texted me this photo along with the caption, "I spy two places you might like. Can you pick them out?"
Lucky Fortune Cookery AND Golden Vine Winery?! #heaven

@UffishL directed my attention to this piece in the New York Times , an invitation for writers to share their own fortune cookie wisdom. The comments aren't completely worthless.

And finally, here's what I've been doing while not 1. moving, or 3. eating Chinese food so as to accumulate fortune cookie inserts. (See paragraph 1)
fortunecookiejunkie at D.C.'s famous Kramerbooks

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Meet Matt

I'm late. I know. If you know me in real life, you aren't surprised. I believe it was over a week ago when I said I would publish Matt Kelsey's My Daily Fortune guest post on Friday, and when I said that I meant I would do it last Friday. And now it's Wednesday. (I think. The days have started to run together recently.) Regardless, without further ado, here it is!


People often ask me what I hope to accomplish with My Daily Fortune ( For the longest time, I didn’t really have a good answer.
The answer to another common question – why did you start this project? – is a lot easier. Back in late 2010, my wife and I were in a tough financial bind. I was unemployed and the prospects for a new job were thin. Jamie was working a low-paying job at a non-profit organization. My unemployment benefits were set to run out the first of the year. And Jamie’s past medical bills had come under the thumb of a collection agency.
As we dined on Chinese food from a local takeout place, I pondered these dilemmas. And then I noticed the obligatory fortune cookie that accompanied the meal.
“We could use some good fortune now,” I thought.

So I came up with My Daily Fortune. Starting January 1, 2011, I began to crack open a fortune cookie each and every day. Whatever the fortune says is what I do that day.
But the project was almost derailed before it ever started. I got a job, and the need for a daily dose of good fortune didn’t seem so pressing. However, my brilliant wife encouraged me to proceed. It’s been a challenge to juggle a full-time job and a nearly-full-time writing project, but I’ve been doing it now for over two months, and I’ve grown as a writer and as a human being.

Which brings me back to that first question: what I hope to accomplish. I thought about that for a long time, and only after I’d been doing the project for a while did I realize the true answer.
Let me first say that I don’t really believe in some sort of mystical power surrounding fortune cookies. I know they were not written by Confucius (rather, by an accountant in Long Island), and I know they weren’t handed down to Moses on stone tablets.
But the thing about fortune cookies is you hardly ever find a negative fortune (although Not-A-Fortune tends to disprove this theory). You’ll never see a fortune that says, “Crush somebody’s dream today,” or “You will soon ruin your best friend’s life.” If you follow the advice of a cookie fortune – truly follow it – you will be doing something good for yourself or for somebody else.

I’ll be doing that 365 times in 2011. My life can’t be anything but better for it.
When I opened the fortune “Your friend or partner is needing advice or encouragement,” I was able to give advice to several people at my job, one of whom in particular was touched by my words. The fortune “Your flamboyant personality will soon bring you to a new hobby” inspired me to create one of my wife’s favorite restaurant appetizers: stuffed artichokes. After I received the message, “It’s time to write a letter or email to one who is distant,” I re-connected with a lost friend from elementary school.

On the other side of the coin, some of the fortunes have created unusual chains of events. After I opened the fortune, “A short stranger will soon enter your life to share blessings with you,” I went to a bookstore and stalked short people to gain wisdom from the books they purchased. When the fortune “A friend will soon reveal an exciting secret to you” was opened, one of my friends divulged a deep, dark memory that has haunted them since childhood. And only six days into the project, the fortune “Do something unusual tomorrow” inspired me to get a tattoo.

That’s right. A tattoo.
I think this experience will change my life. In many ways, it already has. And I can only hope it will change the lives of the people around me for the better.

Matt Kelsey is a writer and editor who lives in Kansas City. You can read about his quest at

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A March Full of Fortune

Did everybody read Cristina's amazing guest post? If not, you should. It was the first March post and will be hard to beat. However, I've got another exciting guest post lined up: Matt Kelsey, of My Daily Fortune fame, wrote a post that I know you'll love. I'll publish it Friday. In the meantime, enjoy all of this fortune cookie fabulousness I've been storing up.

Single Blonde in the City sent me these cookie inserts, from Chinatown in Westlake:
"Now is the time to call loved ones at a distance. Share your news."
"Your dynamic eyes have attracted a secret admirer."

You may recognize the top insert. Bea Dazzler received the very same not-a-fortune when she and I dined at the very same establishment in January. We considered it a reference to her pregnancy and I believe her exact words upon reading it were, "If they don't know by now, they haven't been paying attention." Continuing the trend of pregnancy-related news on Not-a-Fortune, I'd like to wish a very happy birth day to Bea Dazzler and Princess Quite-A-Lot's first child, a beautiful baby boy they welcomed early this morning. 

Bea Dazzler received this insert a few days ago, saying, "you have to have done the second to do the first":
"To love and win is the best thing; to love and lose the next best."

The birth of Baby Bea Dazzler-A-Lot is surely a loving win!

Single Blonde also sent me this photo, taken at Austin's House Wine:

I received this puzzling cookie insert, which my resourceful friend researched and says refers to an e.e. cummings quote:
"Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question."

Mr. Fabulous's contribution:
"Help! I'm being held prisoner in a Chinese bakery!"
[Funny, and food-related, which I always enjoy.]

My parents visited their favorite Chinese restaurant and received these inserts:

"You will be honored with a prestigious prize or reward."

"You have an active mind and a keen imagination."
[The first, my father's is clearly an actual fortune. The second, my mother's, is not only not a fortune but sounds familiar- has it appeared here before?]

Finally, Erin and I attended a Chinese New Year cooking class over a month ago and I forgot to blog about it. Before I arrived, Erin selected the dish we would be preparing:
Foodie not-a-fortune: "Sesame chicken"

Full disclosure: This may or may not be the sesame chicken. However, it is a photo from the class, so at least there's that.

Mmm, dessert, Chinese New Year style. 

Also: when asked about the Year of the Rabbit, Chef Dorothy Huang commented that, "after the turbulent year of the tiger, this is going to be a peaceful year." Here's hoping...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Revisiting Elephant Kissing

Do you remember when my friend Cristina guest blogged about elephant kissing? If not, follow that link and read her original guest post. I'll wait. 
Okay. I've asked her to guest blog again because the following fortune cookie-related tale is too good not to share with my readers. It's poignant and speaks to the magic of dreams, of wishes fulfilled, of listening to your children and giving them what they want, even if it means oodles and oodles of noodles.

Readers, I give you an update on elephant kissing:

It was July when it all happened, this double whammy fortune.  I woke up that morning and got ready for the day and my heart was extraordinarily heavy.  It was obviously apparent that, once again, I was not pregnant.  Though my husband and I hadn’t been trying for the years that many couples who struggle will struggle, the many months we had been in the fertility game so far had been heart heavy ones for me.  Each month that passed, it was becoming harder and harder for me to not cry with each negative.  And this day in July it was even more difficult because in my mind I was still calculating how far along I should have been if I had not miscarried just a short time ago in May. 

My son requested Chinese food for lunch that day.  And so off we went, the three of us, to eat Chinese food. We didn’t go to our typical place where there is a Mongolian Buffet.  We went to a “cheaper” place where my son will eat himself sick on chicken satay skewers and noodles.  My husband and I got our fortunes and once again he painfully ate his whole cookie before he read his while I opened mine and cast aside the cookie. (They’re disgusting.)
I know typically this is where we insert a photograph of the actual fortunes, but I am not going to do so.  Instead, I will add special photographs of something else with the fortunes printed underneath.

My husband's fortune read thusly:

 “What you have recently lost will soon be replaced.”

And what did my fortune say?  My fortune cookie held this treasure for me:

 “Remember three months from this date. Good things are in store for you.”

We didn’t really talk about it, but we both knew what we wanted our fortunes to mean.  But really, fortune cookies fortunes don’t actually come true.  If they did, I would have to kiss an elephant.  However, I mentally recorded the date, July 19th, and we went on with our lives.

As can be seen, fortune cookies can foretell the future in some way.  On October 19th I had a positive on a pregnancy test and we will welcome our baby girl this July 25th – just a few days later from when we received those fortune cookies.