To take care of myself and just myself
To remember to eat and to stop when it’s time
To take my medicine
To sleep eight hours a night, every night
To stop diluting my spirit to make it more easily digestible
To say no when I mean no
To stop mourning a marriage that never really lived
To recognize a snake and treat it as a snake
To live deliberately and fearlessly
To pause to catch my breath
To accept the generosity of my friends
To kiss someone with eyes closed and heart open
I'm at Long Beach airport, waiting to board a plane that will take me 400 miles away from my loves again. Winter break for App Academy is done for me, and the grind starts back up on Thursday.
Emi has changed considerably since mid-November, when I first left. She uses words and phrases she must have picked up from books and television, in other words, not from Tim or me. Examples: "That was so random!", "I'm ready when I'm ready!", and that argh-growl of absolute frustration that every sister has perfected by the time they are 10. She is precocious in that department.
Isaac has grown into quite the proper young gent. Without being asked to, he picks up things I drop, beaming if I say thank you, smiling curtly if I don't. He reads to his little sister for hours sometimes, or plays imaginary games with her until both of them are lost in the ether, hazy eyes snapping back into focus when I announce dinner or bath time. He is still doing really well in school. When we went to Barnes & Noble to redeem some gift certificates he received for his birthday, he chose the sequel to Chris Colfer's "The Land of Stories," a book on the assassination of JFK, a book on other celebrity deaths, and a brain teaser workbook. He's well on his way to being an awesome tween.
We are doing well! Six more weeks of separation, then on to our next big adventure.
2014 is the Year of the Horse: MY year. Watch out, world.
We wish you and your loved ones a healthy and prosperous 2014!
It's still the 26th here in San Francisco, but it's the afternoon of the 27th in Japan, where you are right now, thousands of miles away from my heart.
You're the best, you know that? I probably don't tell you often enough, but Bu, you are the Real Deal. You are a voracious reader, you love to learn, you are even coding! But best of all, you still have a wide-open heart. You are good company, you make good jokes, you see the good in everyone, and you never hold a grudge.
This summer, I had the thrill of taking you on your first roller coaster ride, and back in January we saw Stanford win at our first Rose Bowl. I can't wait to take you to your first concert, your first Comic-Con and Gallifrey One, your first date, your freshman year of college.
You love Minecraft, Adventure Time, and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. You proudly call yourself a Brony, and that makes me so proud of you. You still love fuzzy things and you still allow me to snuggle you. Thank you for that.
You are an exceptionally good traveller. You eat anything and everything placed in front of you. You have good manners. You are so brave because you are never afraid to say you're sorry. You are the evidence that there is still good in the world, and that good wins in the end.
PS: Here's a baby kiwi bird. ISN'T IT SO CUTE???
We have two concord grapevines in the backyard, and it has become our yearly fall tradition to pick dozens of pounds of them in September around the Harvest Moon, then try to unload them on our loved ones and neighbors as fast as possible. Dozens of pounds of grapes are literally THOUSANDS of grapes, and the bastards all ripen at once, so time is of the essence when dealing with them.
This year, however, because of a start-and-stop summer, our grapevines got confused, so we were left with a bunch of uneven bunches, with fruit ranging from green to raisin. We were able to salvage almost 30 pounds of sweet, handsome fruit, but they had to be separated from their cruddy brethren, and thus not giftable. Therefore, I had to tie my bonnet, button my pinafore, and go all Ma Ingalls on them by turning them into jam.
Grape jam, if done by the book, is a pain in the ass. You have to separate the pulp from the skin, then boil the pulp while cutting up the skins in a food processor, then combine them again and boil the mixture down...all to have a few jars of what basically tastes like Welch's. Well, a little better than Welch's, but still, not 12-hours-of-sweaty-labor better.
Therefore, we have winnowed down the recipe quite a bit to fit our needs. It tastes exactly the same as the "right" way.
Mang Farm "Grapple" Jam (1 batch = approx. 4 8-oz. jelly jars)
PS: Would you like a jar of our jam??? If so, post a food-themed haiku below, and I will randomly select a winner and mail one out to you!
As if I didn't have enough on my plate, I have joined a new blog, The Nerds of Color, or N.O.C. for short. It combines two of my favorite things: pop culture and good-looking smart people, in one convenient package.
All contributors had to introduce themselves via their "Nerd Origin Story." I don't mean to brag, but mine was by far the most cringe-inducing. Teaser: it involves multiple rejections...and a fur suit. You will never look at me the same again.
To make amends, I also wrote a piece for our children's nerd culture column, School of Hard N.O.C.s on The Legend of Korra. I don't know how vocal I've been about that show on this blog, but I frigging LOVE IT. I love it more than RuPaul's Drag Race and Game of Thrones combined, it's that good.
We even have a nerdy talk show called Hard N.O.C. Life, with its own awesome theme song:
PS: Apparently Emi was fiddling around with my computer today. This is what I found:
I read Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg a few months ago, and it really inspired me to start challenging myself and take more risks with my career.
To that end, I am thrilled to announce that I have been accepted into the November cohort of App Academy. App Academy (profiled in this Wired article) is a techie boot camp of sorts, where after 12 weeks of working my buns off, I will be hireable as a web developer at companies such as Facebook and the like. There are lots of similar academies popping up nowadays, but the cool thing about App Academy specifically is that you do not have to pay tuition up-front: rather, you agree to pay them 18% of your first year's salary once you start your new job.
It has been quite the journey already just to get to this point, so much that I'm only just getting used to the fact that I'm actually going. It has meant lots of changes for me and the rest of the family, and even more drastic ones in the coming months.
Emi had a rough day today at her new summer school. It was reminiscent of her old preschool breakdowns, a crying tantrum brought on by getting 4 spelling words incorrect on a spelling test we did not know to prepare for, and it took about an hour and a half for her to find her composure and return to the land of the living.
AN HOUR AND A HALF. That is some stamina! I knew I shouldn't have titanium-plated her vocal cords.
Luckily, her teachers rose to the challenge, and the rest of the day went pretty well. There was another crying jag at pick-up time, but since it was a relatively quiet one, we'll fudge a little and call this a one-tantrum day.
Smart-assery aside, I am beside myself with concern. How could the same girl who scaled 20-foot-tall rocks a couple weeks ago, declaring in triumph that "I am Emi and I am not afraid!" be so emotionally fragile two weeks later?
If I'm completely honest, however, the girl finds something to cry over every damn day. And who blames her? The world kinda...sucks! Especially for a girl who hates, in no particular order: competitive games, timed tasks, boring tasks, too-challenging tasks, vegetables, her brother (unless he obeys all her directions), other people's needs and desires, people looking at her, being asked to be polite, being asked to "use her words," and overall not getting to do what she wants to do at any given time. The world asks a lot from little girls, maybe too much.
As her mother, these retrograde moments are getting harder and harder for me to grin at and bear. As an incoming first grader, the expectations for emotional self-regulation are much higher, and I do not dare to guess how well Emi will adjust to a formally-structured classroom setting. I know who her teacher will most likely be, and she runs a tight ship. She is a brilliant educator but will not abide Emi's insistence on doing things her own way on her own time. And once Emi senses she is in a battle of wills, she will try to win at all costs, even if it costs her her dignity. Sigh. Worry worry worry.
But then again, I have to remember that most people's lives are not linear. Emi will evolve and de-evolve on a day-to-day basis, two steps forward and two steps back in a lifelong cha-cha, but the overall trend will most likely be upwards. And if it's not, at least then we will have a real, diagnosable problem that we can treat. I have to remember that the worst-case scenario is actually not so bad.
I mean, she will have to outgrow this sometime. It's not like anyone throws tantrums as a teenager, right? Oh wait...
We vacationed at my friends' flat in San Francisco last week. Strange things happen in the Castro, that is internationally known. However, the kids and I were not prepared for the events that occurred early one morning. I'll let Emi tell the story first.
"Hawk Atak" by Emi
This is a non-fichin story.
When I was at my ukol's howse a hawk browk thar window.
We rusht to the whindw and, guess what
Thair it was.
Mom trid to
take a picher
but it follaway.
Can it get any clearer than that??? Well, let's see what Isaac has to say:
"Unbelievable Hawk Story" by Isaac
This is about a hawk who unexpectedly smashed through my uncles' window. I know, it sounds fantasy-like, but it happened!
It was a Tuesday morning when me and my family were on vacation and we were staying in my uncle Chris and Jim's apartment in San Francisco. I was reading in the living room with my parents when there was an ear-piercing shatter of glass, followed by the ruffle of shaking feathers. We rushed to the garage [editor's note: it was actually the mud room] to see what in the world was happening.
There was the hawk, tapping at the windows for a way out. Mom almost took a picture, but it flew away.
I told my 2 uncles, one after the other, to check it out. They both said the same thing: "OMG!"
I do hope you believe me. If not, I don't care. If you have dreams about hawks smashing windows, please don't blame me.
So, there you have it. A small grey hawk crashed through my friends' window, gathered its bearings for a few seconds, then flew back out. I'm glad all four of us saw it happen, or else I would have thought I was hallucinating.