Saturday, November 28, 2009

Secret foods

Alimentum recently posted their readers’ secret foods. Some, like microwaved cheese (which I’ve made accidentally) or frozen Snickers mixed with Cool Whip, sound sort of appealing. They’re like Doritos with sour cream: excessive yet satisfying.

Others, not so much. (I just can't get into sardines.)

I didn’t submit a secret food, but if I had, I’d probably have mentioned Red Lobster’s coconut shrimp and shrimp scampi, with rice pilaf on the side. And yes, I would've also included the cheese biscuits and the salad drowned in Caesar dressing. Because I eat those, too.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Broken glass

When I told Tim (of Model Retailer) that this was a week of broken glass, he asked, “Is that a metaphor?”

Alas, no.

My friend Mike asked me to repair a glass dragonfly that his wife, Holly, accidentally broke. I didn’t have high hopes, but Tim brought over some supplies and went to work on the various pieces.

He reattached the tail, a leg, and two wings. This dragonfly has learned to fly again! (Insert Mr. Mister song here.)

On a less inspiring note, I’ll be taking my car to a glass place to have my front windshield replaced. On the first cold night that I left my car out for a couple of hours, a seemingly benign (and definitely small) crack traveled across my entire windshield.

If you've got a suggestion for an appropriate 80s song, metaphorical or otherwise, it would really cheer me up.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sunday with Steve Byrne

Sunday afternoon, I met Steve Byrne at the Orange County Pavilion. He was funny and down to earth as he talked about his parents' support, growing up half Asian, and how his comedy has changed.

He was a good sport while Yukie shot photos of him with the oranges and plants in his dressing room. Did you know that he can juggle?

Yukie also captured his Jackie Chan pose — which would not have been possible without Hal's "Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan?" question in response to my pre-trip post.

Diane and Todd joined us later to shoot photos at the taping. I've been to comedy clubs before, but nothing compared to this — laughing with 500 people at the same thing, at the same time. And I won't give away who the surprise guest was, but he had all of us cheering.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Forever young

Yukie and went to an 80s prom hosted by one of her Team in Training friends. For the occasion, she bought a $10 mint green lace dress that she accessorized with mismatched earrings, a heart necklace, and a pair of silver ankle-strap heels. I went with an 80s (though not prom-y) look: my New Edition t-shirt with a hot pink tank top, satin skirt, white plastic hoops, and a side ponytail. Our Mensa friends Devin and Bryan — our dates — wore a tux and a tuxedo t-shirt, respectively.

Because Yukie used to shoot prom photos, she was an expert at posing: Don't she and Devin look like a classic prom couple?

I had forgotten how many different looks people wore in the 80s. I remember what we (the girls) wore but I forgot about the guys' styles. I took in the view as I sipped my vodka tonic. (It tasted like gin — reminiscent of the first time I got drunk, from kamikazes the house boy had made. Heady times, the late 80s.)

It was mind-blowing to see polo shirts with upturned collars, parachute pants, rolled-up jacket sleeves, skinny ties, Chuck Taylors, and terry-cloth headbands. But I think my favorite was the guy who wore a teal t-shirt under a cream-colored jacket. Very Miami Vice. And his Nikes looked great while he did the Running Man.

The DJ spun some classics, but I have such a fixed memory of the 80s, I was waiting for "It Takes Two," "A Little Respect," some MC Hammer or Depeche Mode or New Order. Also missing: the arena rock anthems of Styx and Journey. And while I loved hearing "Friday I'm in Love," that was so 1992. I know that they couldn't fit a decade of music into just a few hours of prom, but I can only hope that the night ended with "True" or "Crazy for You" or even "Forever Young".

I'm glad I went to Prom. It was a chance to appreciate (confront?) the 80s again, beyond just experiencing them as background music.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Does this look familiar?

Yesterday, Yukie and I watched the latest episode of Flash Forward.

In that episode, one of the characters is leaving work when she witnesses a murder. The character works at Bird's Plus (yes, the apostrophe makes no sense).

When Yukie and I got out of the car to go to the 80s prom, this is what we saw.

We both recognized it immediately. I got a little scared because my first thought was of danger (not that the crime was fictional).

I know: we had our own flash forward.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Oh no, Papa, you're out of control!

I came home from tennis tonight to this.

Her tail is on the spout of my water bottle.

She removed the cap from the popcorn jar neatly. But she chewed the opening of the jar shut.

Yes, that’s a knife.

And a sponge, torn in three pieces.

Also, she pulled out the pen that keeps the door of her food bin closed. It does not appear that she opened the door and ate any food, though.

I'm leaving for L.A. Saturday morning. I am hoping we can get through the next week without incident. I am exhausted.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Oh no, Papa. I'm sorry about the water.

Papa gave me more reasons to keep blogging about her.

I came home Saturday night to find the drain cover from the shower on the living room floor. Eww.

And the toilet bowl brush was on the floor in the bathroom. Eww again.

But the saddest sight — and the one I didn't photograph — was Papa's water bowl, overturned on the kitchen floor. I think she was really thirsty.

Why so thirsty? Maybe because, earlier that day, she got a bag of rolls from the kitchen counter, ripped it open, and ate the one roll that was left.

Counter-surfing is a new behavior for her. And so is dismantling the bathroom. Sheesh.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Steve Byrne

For my next story, I'll be chatting with Steve Byrne and going to the taping of his next Comedy Central special, "The Byrne Identity."

I've got my list of questions, but I'm also asking you: What would you want to know about him?

By the way, here's one of my favorite PG-rated bits — about being Asian, of course.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Kathy's Garden Party 2009

The theme of Kathy's Garden Party was “All Dolled Up,” inspired by Barbie’s 50th birthday.

As always, the food was great — sliders, crab cakes, slices of grilled chicken wraps. And the “Dream Girl” cocktail was a glass of champagne drizzled with something sweet and garnished with a raspberry. Yum.

Ben also liked the cookies.

At every Garden Party, Kathy’s family and friends find a new way to display the auction items in a runway show. This year, the models wore pretty dresses and teased hair to show off the Barbie- and doll-themed artwork.

Then came the live auction.

To my surprise, I was able to bid on something successfully! Well, Ben helped. We bought a pair of framed photographs, “Ethel’s flowers” by Janice Tonz. A woman who sat in front of us said that the artist took the photos in Colorado. I would like to find out more about Janice and her work.

As in years past, I made a charm bracelet for the show. If you want to see it, click on the “Preview artwork for All Dolled Up” icon on the Grace Events page. “Pretty in pastels” is on page 7.

You can also see the bracelet I made for last year's event. I'm already excited about next year's theme and how I can turn it into a bracelet!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

My birthday at Sluggo's

Sluggo’s is smoky. Very smoky. But because of all the times I’ve been there after tennis, it feels like home.

Of course I had a good time on my birthday: drinks, pizza, seeing my friends. What’s not to enjoy? So I thought I’d tell you something about each of the people in these photos — a mini-story, if you will, about friends old and new.

1. My BeadStyle friends: Kelsey is our new assistant. She is funny and enthusiastic and puts up with nicknames like Kelsey Lately.

Cathy makes sure we always have baked goods at work: brownies, lemon bars, a tower of treats. She also makes really tasty cookies at the holidays and lets me go on a donut run when necessary.

Erin always made us laugh with her workplace pep; it could have been the song in her head. I think she and Kelsey may be related.

2. I also work with Keith, who is the nicest IT guy you could imagine. Plus, he is quick to help when Papa needs to go to the emergency clinic.

Jeremy is an editor who can give you a nickname in French. So try not to do anything too stupid around him, mais oui!

3. Patrice, Jean, and I are on the same tennis team. Patrice was my tennis partner last summer. She's supercompetitive but down to earth. Just by saying, “Enough of that” — in a really nice way, not bossy, of course — she helps me re-focus.

Jean and I played a match together last summer, against the best team in our flight. We still took a set from them. Not too shabby, right?

4. Louis and Michael are my ping-pong friends. Louis teaches me cool stuff like the slide-and-glide. Who knew that ping pong could also give you an aerobic workout? Michael has helped me with my forehand and never gets impatient when I hit bad shots, which is often.

5. Even though Denise just got married and moved kind of far away, she came to have a drink with me. One thing I forgot to mention: she was one of the most organized brides ever. She had a list of friends to photograph at her wedding and she sent postcards from her honeymoon.

6. Mary and I have been friends since we met at M.E. Lou ten years ago. It's through her that I met Stacy (who's not in this photo, maybe she had had enough of Sluggo's by then?) and Katie (of Pickled Egg fame).

I've known Michelle (who's in the center of the photo) for about ten years, and one of my first memories of her was of a New Year's Eve party where everyone was having a blast watching the DVD she brought. In case you were wondering, the tagline of Center Stage was "Life doesn't hold tryouts." Michelle will never judge you on your pop-culture proclivities.

7. Last but not least: Ben. He asked, and I told him, what I wanted for my birthday. A pepper mill. When he was at the store picking out my gift, he pictured how it would look in my kitchen. (My pepper mill stands proudly on my countertop.) I love this attention to detail. (Though, if I deliberated over such a decision, he might say, "It's a pepper mill.")

Anyway, I'm excited about all that the next year has to offer. Thanks, everyone, for your company!

Friday, November 6, 2009

How I found couples to interview for my relationship story

About the couples I interviewed for my “Show me the love” article: I didn’t know them before I interviewed them.

Surprisingly, my Milwaukee couples were easy to schedule. One of my friends put me in touch with Seng, whom he worked with. And Jill, a childhood friend, suggested I contact Young and Suzelle, who said yes right away. My Facebook post was helpful, but I still needed two more couples that I could interview in person.

In the meantime, I stumbled upon Diane and Todd’s blog, White on Rice Couple. They are food writers, photographers, videographers, and world travelers, so I guessed that they’d be comfortable sharing their story. They agreed to participate right away.

I just needed one more couple. Deanne, a friend from an online writing class, had mentioned Help A Reporter Out. I posted a query and crossed my fingers.

Three women contacted me. Over the next couple of days, one declined because her boyfriend didn’t want to participate; she said he was very private about their personal lives. A second woman had already scheduled a time for the interview but backed out. She and her boyfriend felt that the Asian American community in L.A. is “teeny tiny” and they didn’t want to say anything that could be misconstrued. (It’s hard for me to imagine one tiny Asian American community, but I did empathize that they didn’t want to be misunderstood.)

Thankfully, Lydia was the third HARO person who contacted me. And she and Rohan did a terrific interview.

So I found couples in a range of ethnicities — Laotian, Korean, Chinese, Indian, and Vietnamese. And the couples differed in their ages, the length of their relationships, and whether or not they had children, so they highlighted a variety of experiences.

What these couples did have in common was a respect for their relationship. That’s not surprising, that the people who'd be willing to talk about their relationships were the ones who felt relatively happy and secure. (I wish I could’ve also interviewed those other couples. But that would’ve been a different story.)

Ultimately, I’m glad I interviewed couples I didn’t know. It’s not that they were any more articulate than my friends would have been. It’s that I didn’t have any preconceived idea of what their relationships were. So I had to ask all the questions — how they met, how they decided to get married (or not), what kind of stuff they fought about. It was truly a learn-as-you-go experience.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Asian American relationships article online at East West

"Show me the love", the article I wrote about Asian American couples, has just been published online at East West.

This story assignment came about after Anita, the editor, mentioned Lac Su's memoir, I Love Yous Are for White People. In Asian families, we don't say those three little words very often. So Anita and I wondered how that translated into romantic relationships.

I'd be curious to hear what you think. Could you relate to these couples? Or, did these experiences seem different from your own?