Paigey Boo

Niece number two has arrived! And I have just returned from a week in Boston to visit everyone.

World, meet Paigey Boo. She’s one month old, weighs a bazillion baby pounds, and loves to eat, sleep, poop, repeat.

Penny Boo is now three years old. Her English skills have exploded since my last visit, she can secretly understand more Chinese than she admits to, and she asks why I’m “talking like that” when I speak Spanish. She bargains logically, has decided pinky promises are fun, and has thus far managed to keep every one she’s made. Her imagination runs wild, but when the adults get too ridiculous she puts the brakes on and tells them, “It’s just pretend.” She has a fascinating fascination with bugs, and instead of asking for kids shows spent the week asking me to show her videos of cockroaches.

I’m not even kidding. She watched this entire video about cockroach live births without squirming.

The last time I visited, Penny asked to have a sleepover.

Penny: Want to have sleepover.
Sis: Really? But Mommy and Daddy won’t come.
Penny: Bye Mommy. *hugs Mommy* Bye Daddy. *hugs Daddy*
Sis:

My Mom shut that down right quick.

This time, she asked again.

Penny: Mommy, can I have a sleepover with Auntie Viv?

And so began a night of me getting whacked in the head repeatedly by the most restless kid ever, and my sister and brother in law’s best night of sleep in three years. They woke up at noon.

Here’s us with our international breakfast: French toast and Chinese buns.

Before I left, a couple folks asked about the foliage when I told them about my trip. Foliage is one of those things you don’t notice when you grow up with it, but it seems I’ve finally been gone long enough to notice it. My goodness, it’s beautiful.

That pretty much sums up my trip: family, foliage… and work. I got zero exercise, which is totally unlike me, and bothered me enough that I had a dream about running. Running! I hate running. And yet, there I was, getting my supple leopard on in my sleep.

Winter is coming. The next time I visit everything will be different all over again.

Nerd Heaven

Stopped by SF Japantown this afternoon to purchase the following stamp, which I discovered last Monday and didn’t realize I had to buy until I described it to Aaron later that evening:

It’s a girl wielding a hatchet riding a bear wearing a shirt with my last name on it.

It’s also my new signature stamp.

As I exited the stamp store I came across a yo-yo tricks gathering. These guys (and gal) were really good! Some of them were tricking while having conversations, not really looking at what they were doing.

They were standing in front of Aube Creamery, a soft serve place I wanted to try. The verdict? It is hands down the smoothest soft serve I have ever had. Would eat again!!! … Preferably while watching live yo-yo tricks 5 feet in front of me.

After that, I wandered some more, exploring the most bestest books and stationery in the land. I eventually found myself perusing a selection of portable pencil sharpeners.

Despite just having purchased a KUM Masterpiece, I couldn’t leave without the Alvin 9866 Brass Bullet. I mean, look at this thing:

<3

Bachi Bruises

Another week, another slew of new things to learn. We actually warmed up with something brand new. By the end of the night, we’d done so much drumming that the bony parts of my hands were starting to bruise. Kind of like when I first started playing hockey. It’s a good reminder that I’m still a taiko n00b.

On the upside, I kept up well enough to get the first line call for a final run of everything we were working on in the first half of class. I couldn’t tell if it was because Sensei wanted a solid finish going into break, or if he wanted to evaluate my drumming more closely. Either way, it was nerve wracking. Don’t mess up. DON’T MESS UP!!

I didn’t mess up.

Learned some more big movement arms in the air shifting back and forth sequences. I love those.

Nashvegas

I finally made it to Nashville last weekend. I’ve been wanting to visit since I was a wee little Asian country music fanatic living in Boston.

I’m not much of a country music lover these days, but this trip wasn’t for the music. It was for food! That, and the spectacle of Lower Broadway, a.k.a. Bachelorette Party Central. Bars and live music door after door after door, with the occasional boot shop sprinkled in. It was overwhelmingly loud and quite crowded.

Not loud or crowded, but overwhelmingly giant: The Gaylord Opryland Resort. It’s not a hotel, it’s a mini-city! That’s a thing??? Coming soon: a water park! I’m not even kidding.

Back to why I went: Food! I’m pretty sure I had biscuits and gravy every day. (Biscuit Love!) And barbecue. (Martin’s!) And hot chicken. (Boltons!) And meat-and-three. (Monell’s! That was more like three meat-and-threes, in a single meal.)

Also did an overnight trip to Chattanooga. Got a wonderful tour of the Tennessee Aquarium, then learned how to make bánh xèo from Hanh’s Mom. Super awesome unexpected bonus!

It was a whirlwind trip. So glad I go to do it! Much gratitude to Hanh for inviting me and her family for their hospitality.

Doko Doko Doko Doko Doko Doko Don

Holy bachi, taiko class is really picking up! We added a few new parts to our existing songs a couple weeks ago, then this week we jumped straight into a full set of something we practiced briefly in… February or March? In the second half of class, we learned a full set of something completely new to us.

I can’t tell if this is because Sensei feels time pressure to teach us everything before our show in January, or if he thinks we’re actually good enough now. I suspect it’s the former. Yikes!

For Decorative Purposes Only

In today’s episode of finding and cracking random lost locks, I am now in possession of a fabulously decorative but most definitely not secure Master Combo Lock, model 620DAST.

Master Luggage Lock Crack

I Googled how to crack master luggage lock, clicked on the first link, was taken to a USA Today article, and followed the instructions. Despite not setting a timer, I’m pretty sure it took under 5 minutes to open.

Locks continue to disappoint me.

No Going Back

Last week I found myself suiting up for hockey. My first game back! I was so excited.

As I finished putting my right shinguard on, I remembered: I can’t come back.

I turned to my teammate on my right. It was Raika. Last year I had to tell her I couldn’t play with the team in Thailand. This time I had to tell her I couldn’t play right before game time.

I wasn’t sad about it. Just like last year, I simply accepted it as fact. The only part I found upsetting was that I had to disappoint my teammate. Again.

I suspect I had this dream because now, a year later, I’ve decided I’m done coaching. I didn’t wake up one day and tell everyone; I’ve sort of let this idea settle in as I’ve stayed off the ice all summer. Now that Winter season is starting, people have been asking me whether I plan to continue coaching. My answer has been a consistent, natural, no. Not that I don’t like to coach, but it’s an awful lot of time and preparation, and while it’s rewarding, it doesn’t bring me anything close to the joy of playing an actual game. So while I have skills and knowledge to share, I no longer have super rad stoke to share. The skaters deserve more stoke, and I have a long list of things waiting for more time.

And so another chapter has ended. I’m grateful for the year I spent coaching after I stopped playing. I had fun designing practices and creating light bulb moments. In exchange, I got to process my impending full retirement from the ice.

Here I am, fully processed, and fully retired. It’s peaceful here in my hockey world.

As for all my other worlds… I could really use some more time for all these new hobbies.

Wah, Why Do I Sound Like Eso?

I studied French in middle school, high school, and a semester of college. Somewhere along the way, I noticed my accent sounded different from those of my classmates.

Instead of sounding like an American speaking French, I sounded like a Chinese speaker. I had a Cantonese French accent.

Last week in Spanish class, we took turns reading a conversation. I properly “j”ed my “ll”s (I’ve decided to go west with my Spanish) and rolled my “rr”s, but I realized upon finishing one of my lines that something was off.

Aside from my work in progress “o”s and “e”s I didn’t sound much like my classmates, but I didn’t sound like my instructor either.

I sounded like a Chinese speaker. I had a Cantonese Spanish accent.

It’s not always there, but when it shows up it sounds really, really odd.

So Much Don Don

Taiko class tonight was soooo good! We learned a few new parts and resurrected a sequence from early in the year, before I knew what I was doing. It was so much easier this time around! And the new stuff was so much fun.

We had exactly as many students as drums, so we didn’t get the usual rotation rest. After the first hour we took a break. Everyone was exhausted, but we all had giant smiles on our faces.

I wonder what we’re gonna learn next week.

Elephant Adventure 38: Listen Like a Sponge

Listen like a sponge. Don’t speak, just listen.

I haven’t written about an Adventure in over two months. I stalled on this one. It was hard. I’d remember to do it, but then forget when in conversation. Because how often do you find yourself in a conversation that doesn’t expect a response? Certainly not at work. I feel this works best when you’re in a one-on-one conversation with a friend, but not a group of friends, because in a group setting not talking often relegates you to outside observer.

But even in a one-on-one setting, most conversations expect contribution from both parties.

I did find myself in a few qualifying conversations over the course of this exercise. Conversations in which there is no right answer, no expectation of a response. Conversations in which I could just listen.

And when I did, I heard more than words. I heard emotion, pain, hope, fear, sincerity, compassion.

When I think about this, I realize that sometimes when we want someone to talk to, what we really need is someone to listen.

Perhaps with this realization I’ll find it easier to remember to just listen.

Elephant Adventure 39: Appreciation