Monday, November 7, 2016


You know those chain messages that tell you that if you don't do X within Y amounts of time to Z number of people you have bad luck?  My child received one this morning. I was proud to observe that she had the good sense to think that it's stupid, and chose not to participate.  I recall reading those when I was little and my heart was struck with some inexplicable fear - and then I realized that I couldn't possibly pass on bad luck to my friends. Or anyone, really. So I didn't play, either. Because she's right; it's stupid.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Grasping at Zeitgeist

I didn't get to see Eliot Smith live, and it's one of my greatest regrets in missed music experience opportunities. But I got to go see Mitski, in the summer of 2016, and somehow I feel absolved.

My friend introduced me to her music less than a month ago, and I spent the days since then feverishly falling for her clean, intelligent, emotional, multi-layered songs. And instead of songs from her latest album (Puberty 2), she mostly played songs from Bury Me At Makeout Creek, which is, IMHO, a masterpiece. In between soft voiced vignettes of being sick and eating "ox bone soup" at a Korean restaurant in Oakland (and unwittingly murmuring "mmm...yumyum" after each bite), and how to validate if the food at a Chinese restaurant's going to be good (lukewarm water being brought to the table), she played and sang her songs (and wiped her forehead with her elbow in between. I hope she wasn't feverish).

She fills me with all sorts of emotions and thoughts: being an Asian female with an all-American boy. Willingness to absorb the pain.  Her youth (she's 25). I could almost be her mother (it's biologically possible to have had a child her age!  EEK). And her songs resonate. I wondered what songs she'll sing when she's my age, from my dark corner seat in the way back (hands-down, couldn't have asked for a more appropriate spot).

I was tickled when Marceline covered Francis Forever in a recent episode of Adventure Time, find myself turning her lyrics in my head over and over and over. In a year filled with despair against violence and death and sorrow and bad decisions of a grand scale, I can't seem to muster any enthusiasm over anything. I am getting by. And her songs accompany me through the days like a compassionate shadow. Just don't ask us to smile.

One morning this sadness will fossilize
And I will forget how to cry
I'll keep going to work and he won't see a change
Save perhaps a slight gray in my eye

 I will go jogging routinely
Calmly and rhythmically run
And when I find that knife sticking out of my side
I'll pull it out without questioning why
 And then one warm summer night I'll hear fireworks outside
And I'll listen to the memories as they cry, cry, cry

 I will be married to silence
The gentleman won't say a word
But you know, oh you know in the quiet he holds
Runs a river that'll never find home
And then one warm summer night I'll hear fireworks outside
And I'll listen to the memories as they cry, cry, cry
Oh, one warm summer I'll hear fireworks outside
And I'll listen to the memories as they cry, cry, cry
Cry, cry, cry
Cry, cry, cry

Monday, March 14, 2016

# 9 Dream

Ever since I had the good fortune of running into David Mitchell at his book signing in London last fall, I've been on a bender. I started with Slade House (his latest, which he was publicising), then The Bone Clocks (absorbing - the book completely sucked my mind), and finally (for now), finished Number9Dream.  Number9Dream won't get the glowing reviews I'd readily give for Slade House and The Bone Clocks (seriously, if you haven't read either, you are in for a treat. Start in the order I did, and I don't think you'd regret it).

I find it tricky to read a non-native writer writing in the voice of a native (something about it always rings false, or maybe puts the native reader on edge to note/find anomalies even more, or maybe I'm just a mean reader.  Perhaps all of the above), and for the first 3 chapters in, I wasn't even sure I like the protagonist. The names of people were also a bit awkward (Uncle Tarmac. A man named "Yuzu", an idol with a name that's almost impossible for native Japanese people to pronounce : Zizzi), but the overcrowded sense of Tokyo seemed real to me, and it was a pleasure to go back and pretend I was in Tokyo, 15 years ago (wow, what *was* I doing then?). I'm sure it's odd for non-Japanese folks to read Japanese comics set in their version of England (some of the naming conventions there also bother me, too).

I had a huge Lennon obsession phase right around the age of the protagonist. I remember 19 being difficult. I'd sit upstairs on the part of the the roof used to hang up laundry, and open the door to let some sea breeze in (we lived 9 minutes away on foot from the Pacific), and listen to John Lennon on repeat. My "grandmother" whom we all thought were my grandfather's second wife, had passed away recently. She was getting ready to leave for a trip with him, and I heard the thud of her body hitting the tatami mat in her room, and instantly knew something was wrong. I called my mother before I even dashed out of my room. She was hospitalized for a few days, and then passed away quietly without ever regaining consciousness. My younger brother was very close to her - he was her pride and joy - and to this day, he still visits her grave regularly. I've been a horrid granddaughter. I should add gravesite visits on my next visit.  Listening to Lennon's solo songs remind me of that period in my life, the suffocating salty air tangling my hair.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Ophelia, or In Death, Let Me Have My Way

I came across this newspaper advert for a Japanese publishing company  by chance this morning, and couldn't stop thinking about it all day. It's a very obvious photographic homage to Millais' creation (aka "the painting-that's-always-away-on-tour-when-I-visit-the-Tate"), with a few twists.  In place of the young maiden driven to madness via heartbreak, a mature woman is floating, with an ethereal, dreaming expression. Instead of a robin redbreast, a bluebird is perched on a branch.  The woman seems to be floating on a cape lined with crimson. The text of the ad says "At least, in death, let me do what I please". The smaller print says, "All people die, but oh, how the technology to grant longer life keep evolving, making it really difficult for us to do so.  Instead of avoiding death or stressing over dying. I simply want to let go of each and every greed, and prepare for my finale. When people die, they become space dust. At the very least, I'd like to be dust that sparkles beautifully. That is my final greed."  The model is actress Kirin Kiki, who has been openly battling cancer.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

New Year

"So this is the new year / And I don't feel any different" Death Cab For Cutie - "New Year" 

Happy New Sixteen! I hope this year will be kind of like how it's depicted in John Hughes movies: funny, wry, somewhat sentimental, sweet, filled with youthful yearning, a sense of not quite fitting in that you share with everyone, a killer soundtrack for every scene, and somehow leaving it a tiny bit more mature than you were at the opening sequence. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Soda. Pop. Seltzer

I went to see "Sleeping Beauty" (by the Canadian National Ballet) a few months ago.
It was quite...trippy. Here are my takeaways.
  • Carabosse rolls with her own Insane Clown Posse. They have been haunting my dreams. 

To the left, to the left!!!
  • The set design was stunning (moar tassels!) but the costumes need a serious upgrade. Everyone wore a feathered headdress (even the men) and they all looked like Vegas showgirls, and not in a good way. 
  • I'm pretty sure one of the fairies gifted Aurora with ADHD. At least that was the dance interpretation I took away. 
  • The "spindle" was somehow interpreted into gigantic knitting needles. At one point, the evil fairy enlists 3 street urchins who trick innocent townladies to the joy of knitting, causing these ladies to be manacled (uh-huh) when the king finds out that they can't stop knitting and purling. It was bizarre. Very bizarre. And as a knitting fan, I felt for those ladies. 
  • A for technique. The leads were very, very, precise.  But I felt no warmth or chemistry between them, which was a shame. 
  • I bought a new ballet bag so I can bring it with me to practice. Woo, jewels! 
Then I went back to the hotel and watched Steph Curry work his magic.

Over the weekend, I traipsed to NYC and spent a celebrity studded 2 days involving a play with my current crush, Dame Helen Mirren sightings, and consumption of delicious, divine, smokey salmon. It also involved quite a bit of shopping, which I will not list here for fear of admonishment. On Monday, I intended to go to Boston, but my luggage was too big and too late  - I ended up waiting in the airport for 9hrs.

Once I finally got there, Boston welcomed me with misty rain and Dunkin Donuts tea, which was really strong and surprisingly nice (Assam FTW, I daresay). I also learned that there are different ways to refer to carbonated beverages. I tend to say "sparkling water", but in Boston it's "seltzer". I like to say soda for sweetened carbonated beverages (or fountain drinks, etc), but in Toronto it's "pop".

I also encountered a gigantic furry centipede that dropped from the ceiling of my brick hotel room in Toronto. In NYC I stayed at a very new, very quiet, very spacious room atop Times Square. It was interesting to have a view of rooftops that warrant a visit from Daredevil. Travel always knocks me off kilter a bit, like what I am experiencing isn't really real.  Did I really get soaked head to toe in the most bizarre rainfalls? (yes) Did I really see Dame Mirren in the flesh? (yes)  Was Bill Nighy staring into my eyes to ensure I realized that every line was directed at me? (yes...I mean, no...I mean, who knows?).

Lost & Found at Tokyo Disneyland

Just returned from a journey of multiple theme parks in humid Florida, and the experience was so jarring that it opened up a memory I've long forgotten.  I figured I'd document it here in the lab as the worthy depository for all my RAMs.

There's a reason rides at these parks are called "attractions" - its mechanisms are designed to remind you of sex (if you're old enough to know). The loss of control, being tossed about in the dark,  that moment of exhilaration as things accelerate, squeezing eyes shut at the intense definitely draws a parallel. Some rides you want to go on again as soon as it's over, and others you regret utterly. Some are just, well, meh. But I digress.

Once upon a time, I had a summer job working the lost & found at Tokyo Disneyland. I think I was a freshman or sophomore at university at the time.  A close childhood friend of mine lived near the area, and she had an interesting living arrangement- she had her own apartment and her parents lived 2 doors down.  We thought that a summer job at the "Happiest Place on Earth" might be fun, and since our families were close, it wasn't difficult to get permission for me to crash at her place all summer.  We went to cast orientation, and since both of us were bilingual (we met in SF around 5th grade), we were assigned to the Lost & Found so we can accommodate non-Japanese speakers. This was prior to smartphones, so people needed to leave handwritten messages at the Lost & Found  (i.e. Meet you at Cinderella's castle at 4pm), and people definitely left behind a lot of stuff. Wallets full of cash, keys, camera cases, purses, tags, hats, passes, etc.  I was a bit disappointed to be in this position, because I really wanted to wear the outfit of the Disney Tour Guide . I mean, you get to wear a cape, riding cap, a kilt skirt, and on top of that, carry a little riding crop with a bell on it to point out the sights!  Sadly, this was limited to full-time employees, and was also a much coveted position. So instead I wore the cardboard-colored floor length skirt and unsexy matching suit jacket and catalogued all the lost (and found) items daily. My favorite part was writing letters to children. Tokyo Disneyland would ship back any items that had names and addresses on them, and usually, if it's a child's item, we would add a little note along with it, with something along the lines of "Thanks for visiting! Mickey (or Pluto, or Peter Pan, or some princess) found this by the (insert ride or landmark) and wanted to make sure it's sent back to you. Come again soon!"  on Disneyland stationary.  It was fun to come up with 75 or so different ways to write letters every day (I love letters) and pick out the right stationary and stamps and envelopes. More often than not, the children would write back thank you notes which were pinned on the wall of the staff room.  My friend and I would rush out after our shift using Twilight passes and ride the near-empty rides in the dusk, watch the moog enhanced electrical parade, and ogle the fireworks eating ice cream. It was a good (albeit super long and hot!) summer and I have fond memories of hanging out in the backyard of Disneyland with off-duty princes. I once ran into Mickey himself, and he shook my hand. It was soft yet firm, like having your hands enveloped in marshmallow (although probably less sticky).  The most difficult thing is keeping the magic alive, every day, every night, and I have to admit they did an amazing job. I'm glad to have been a tiny speck of it for a short while.