Kamayan Dinner– Filipino style eating using bare hands instead of utensils.
I am on a serious Filipino food momentum these days. [Our family Thanksgiving lunch definitely helped satisfy my craving issues]. Part of this momentum is likely triggered by all these exciting articles on popular Filipino food trends, up and coming chefs, etc. I also noticed more and more kamayan style dinners popping up all over LA which had me thinking. If I had the chance to host a dinner with five guests, who would I invite?
A few months ago, I wrote about an annual tradition my alma mater carries on known as Blue and Gold Week. It’s that week prior to the UCLA vs. USC football game, when Bruins show their school pride and rally to face our cross-town rivals in football. Trojans call this week by a different name, of course, but however way you look at it, one thing is sure: it’s one week when both schools do not hold back in painting the town blue and gold and red. And it gets pretty nutty.
I’ve mentioned this before, but when I first started tinydeskwriters with Aiza and Deo, I always thought I’d for sure write a snarky little post (laced with USC burns) about why it’s awesome to be a Bruin when Blue and Gold Week rolled around. (Ideas for possible headlines: Questions for Trojans, or Did You Really Get Fooled By a Giant Toy Horse?; Brilliant Bruin Comebacks; Brown Bears Eat Gullible Humans… the possibilities are endless.) But now that it’s here, I’m finding myself at a slight loss of words. Not because I feel differently about my alma mater – I bleed blue and gold – but because I’m starting to question the merits of rivalries and their outcomes. In this age of politically heavy divisiveness, are rivalries an escape or a blunt reflection of reality?
By the time you read this, we’ll have endured the nail-biting finale to this godforsaken thing we’ve unfortunately had to call Election 2016.
I – like many of you, I am sure – am watching the results roll in with a semi-permanent, blushing, wide-eyed emoji face… which, to be fair, would have been my face regardless of the results. We have endured months plagued with scandal and hateful, divisive rhetoric; to say that many of us feel like we’ve been stuck between a rock and a hard place throughout this whole year would be a serious understatement.
But as we enter this new era of… whatever we shall call it, I can’t help but wonder:
A few storefronts down from the Newport Beach Ferrari dealership on Pacific Coast Highway, one can find a surprisingly tasty and affordable food establishment. This particular restaurant serves breakfast (24 hours even), lunch and dinner. Children love going here. Adults likely secretly love it only because this fast food chain is not exactly known for a healthy menu. What is this magical Newport place I speak of? McDonald’s.
A few weeks ago, I organized and purged my closet using the Mari Kondo method. I divided my clothes that no longer “brought me joy” into two piles: 1) for donation and 2) attempt to sell. I spent so much money on pairs of jeans 10 years ago, I swore that I could somehow today capitalize on the whole vintage/retro/throwback trend. Through my closet cleanse, I notice how I still held on to NYC and Japanese brands from back in the day. Remember Triple 5 Soul? C’mon millennials, these brands were urban before urban became such a thing! Over the years I collected everything from jackets, t-shirts and shoes that I bought at NYC Sample Sales back to current stuff that just didn’t fit right any longer. Surely, one of the LA thrift/vintage store buyers would also appreciate my Hudson Jeans circa 2006.
After 108 years, the Chicago Cubs are finally in the World Series. More a basketball die-hard, I acknowledge I’m just a casual fan of baseball. I definitely do not have patience to watch baseball on TV (during the regular season) or worse listen to AM baseball radio. I do like attending an actual game though but specifically for the hot dogs, soda and an ice cream sundae stuffed in a mini baseball hat. What I lack in baseball knowledge, I surely make up in enthusiasm related to anything Chicago. Doesn’t matter how many years passed since my family moved to California, I remain a Chicago girl at heart. This Cubs’ World Series moment is huge for Chicago and as a Chicagoan, I’m feeling the excitement.
When I was a kid, I thought adults had all of the answers. I thought that my childhood was the time to ask all of the questions, indulge in one’s unbridled sense of curiosity, make all of the mistakes… and then when you hit adulthood, POOF! You get married, you have kids, and then suddenly you understand everything there is to know about life.
Now that I’m hitting the upper end of my twenties, I’m starting to realize that this is most definitely, 100% not the case. Why the heck was that ever an assumption that crossed my mind?
This has been one of the most terrifying revelations I’ve had as I dig deeper into adulthood. What do you mean grown-ups don’t know everything? They’re human beings?? Inconceivable! The fact that no one really knows what they’re doing in this life, that we’re all winging it and faking it til we make it to get by, has been one tough pill for me to swallow.
As the gravity of adulthood sinks in more and more each day, I’ve found myself becoming increasingly introspective, turning to reflection, prayer, and stillness to get me re-centered and stay calm as I possibly can in the tumultuous storm that is the act of growing up. I’ve been reading more articles and reflections a lot, too; in particular, I’ve been fascinated with studying the lives of quiet and simple, yet profound and wise, historical figures in history.
One figure I’ve been reading about a lot lately is St. Therese of Lisieux. My favorite religion teacher in high school, Fr. Vincent, used to begin each of his classes by quoting a short saying by St. Therese: all is grace. Known as The Little Flower, St. Therese of Lisieux explained her reason for living with these three words – words that represent simple, pure humility and a complete trust in the grace of God. Here are a few quotes of hers that help remind me that there is beauty, value, and goodness in simplicity, even if it doesn’t seem obvious at times.
“The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of it’s scent nor the daisy of its simple charm. If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness.”
“Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.”
“I know now that true charity consists in bearing all our neighbors’ defects–not being surprised at their weakness, but edified at their smallest virtues.”
From these quotes, it seems to me that St. Therese quietly promoted a life of appreciation for the little things: recognizing the simple qualities that make one unique, expressing love through small acts of thoughtfulness, appreciating the subtle strengths of the people around us. Living a simplistic, yet sincere and faith-driven life is something that seems to become slightly more elusive as I become distracted by the chaos of adulthood, but stopping to read quotes like these seem to remind me that it’s not entirely impossible to live purposefully.
With every move from city to new city (and back), borough to new borough (and back) inevitably, I lose a part of me. With the start and end of a relationship, inevitably I lose some part of me. Real tangible items and intangible pieces of me disappear from one apartment to the next. Occasionally, a memory triggers and I find myself searching unpacked boxes trying to recover some lost part of me from two, three or maybe even ten apartments ago.
Since the dawn of civilization mankind has credited its origins to gods and other visitors from the stars. What if it were true? Did extraterrestrials really help to shape our history? These are the opening lines of my favorite show on the History Channel. Continue reading “Learning Unknown History From Ancient Aliens”→
If I’m being completely honest, this week has been a little on the busy side. With deadlines breathing down my neck at work, I feel as though I’m all over the place when it comes to my personal life. I’ve been putting off errands I should’ve taken care of a month ago, I haven’t been sleeping as well, and my dinner diet has consisted of stale tortilla chips, non-stale Japanese crackers, electrolyte water, and pretty much any little scrappy snack I can find lying around my apartment (e.g. that candy corn I found in my purse, popsicles I found in the freezer, microwave breakfast sandwiches, etc.). Not to mention the fact that the debate on Monday has got me rethinking about how this country got to this pickle of an election year. Read: I’m a hot mess.
But all is not lost! I’ve fortunately found a few things that have kept me afloat throughout this funk, and have helped me somewhat get back into the mood to feign a well put-together attitude at (mostly) all times.
(Fun fact: I just fell asleep after typing that sentence and dreamt that I already posted this. Whoops, sorry! Moving on…)
Here are some of the things I keep in what I like to call my HOT MESS-CONCEALING SURVIVAL KIT.
Osea Malibu Atmosphere Protection Cream. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had a hard time finding a moisturizer that actually keeps my crazy dry skin hydrated. But along came this bad boy to save the day! This moisturizer is light but provides ample coverage to give my face a boost when stress and Santa Ana season kicks in during good ol’ L.A. autumns. A lifesaver for my epidermis.
Rewind Candles. I have been avoiding tidying up my space, which probably means I need to revisit Aiza’s post on Kondo. But in the meantime, I’ve been putting it off and making my space bearable by just lighting one of these candles and making the place smell good. It makes my apartment smell like a West Elm or some other fancy furniture store, which does the job for the time being. Horrible habit; effective stalling strategy.
Cat cup from Daiso. I got this cup for like a buck fifty at Daiso earlier this year, and it has now turned into my favorite cup for tea. It’s little so I can drink a smaller portion of tea at a time and have it while it’s still hot, and the cat face-shaped lid keeps my drink warm and away from any potential things flying in the air during this dusty time. Also, the graphics are super random and I don’t understand them, but boy, are they cute; that makes it more fun to drink from this thing.
Tazo zen Green Tea (in the cat cup from Daiso).I’ve talked about Tazo zen before, but it never gets old. It’s the one tea that’s pretty effective in curbing my anxiety, so I guzzle this up when I’m feeling like I need to calm down.
A thoughtful thank-you from my roommate. I helped organize my roommate’s birthday this year, and she wrote me a sweet thank-you. Her kind words help remind me I’m capable of doing things that make people happy, which is encouraging when I’m cranking through work.
You Are A Badass book by Jen Sincero. This bright yellow book looks happy on my nightstand, and is filled with funny, lighthearted reflections to help me reset and regroup when I’m feeling overwhelmed.
Nohmad Snack Co’s Peppermint Crunch – 74% Cacao. I realize this may not be for everybody, but after making this impulse purchase at Whole Foods last week I have been savoring this bar until it is done. It’s raw, vegan, low sugar, and all of those “health” buzzwords… but it’s surprisingly yummy for my taste. Awesome snack and breakfast (What? Did I just say ‘breakfast’? I mean, uh, morning snack) when I don’t feel like walking to my fridge.
… Man, I really need to get my life together. But in the meantime, cheers to getting through the week / almost the weekend!