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Celebrate good times... Come on, let's celebrate!.png

Hey guys, guess what? I’m traveling to Los Angeles yet again this upcoming weekend. It’s my aunt’s 72nd birthday, & her three daughters are throwing her an epic Bingo-themed birthday party. I wasn’t originally planning on going to my aunt’s birthday party; Jian & I are trying to save as much money as we can as our medical bills are piling up rather quickly. However, Jian convinced me that we could turn this weekend into a fun road trip down the California coast.

Jian has maxed out the amount of vacation hours he could accumulate at his office, so he’s taking a couple of days off to make it a long weekend. We’re planning on stopping off in Santa Barbara for one night before ultimately meeting up with friends & family in Los Angeles.

This makes a perfect segue into the next topic in my 99 Things That Bring Me Joy journal, which is about my best birthday celebrations. There are a couple of birthday celebrations that come to mind, but I wouldn’t exactly call them “celebrations”. They were more like birthday traditions.

One of my most memorable & favorite birthday traditions was from when I was a young child in primary school. I invited a lot of the girls from my class, & every year for my birthday I would always have a piñata & the same style cake. We’d play silly schoolyard games in the backyard before my older cousin would help us with the piñata. Then we’d all cram into our family’s kitchen to blow out the candles on my favorite Hello Kitty shaped cake.

I will always remember my childhood birthdays filled with piñatas & Hello Kitty birthday cakes. The piñatas were always some fun animal shape & filled with lots of fun candy that I had no interest in eating, so I’d always let my classmates & friends grab all the candy they wanted. (If it wasn’t chocolate or caramel chews, I wouldn’t eat it.) My birthday cake was always the shape of Hello Kitty‘s face, & the flavors would always be either chocolate or strawberry shortcake. Those two flavors are still my favorite to this very day.

The most memorable birthday of that time in my life was when I had invited two girls from my school who happened to be rivals. Both girls hated each other & always tried to one-up each other. At my birthday, they were both fighting over who got to swing from a low-hanging branch on the little peach tree in my backyard. Both girls were fighting for space on that small tree, but the branch ended up snapping, & the entire tree tipped over & fell. They both ended up flat on their asses with all of the other girls in our group looking on in sheer disbelief & a little panicked as to what the grown ups would say. Both of the girls were quick to blame each other for the murdering of the tree, crying the most phony tears for sympathy.

My dad, when he later found out what had happened to that peach tree, was pissed off. Apparently, that tree was still young & growing its roots, & it was one of my dad’s favorite trees in our backyard. He was so upset that these two girls broke the tree that he later forbid me from ever inviting those girls to another birthday party. My mom was equally as mad as my dad was, & she very swiftly declared that no one shall be climbing, swinging, or playing on any trees from that point on. She then quickly passed out all of the party favors, & sent all of the girls home. That was the last time I had a birthday party at home for the next couple of years.

As I grew older, my tastes changed (not my taste in Hello Kitty!). I would still celebrate my birthday with my friends, but one of my most favorite birthday traditions was to go out for a super fancy meal with my family. We would drive to San Francisco to eat at my dad’s favorite seafood restaurant, & my parents would allow me order a full lobster dinner. This became such a memorable family tradition that it became an inside joke amongst my family that I loved to eat lobster. Now, every time when I go out to eat with my family, they will always jokingly point out to me the lobster dish on the menu.

Now, in terms of actual birthday celebrations, nothing so far has topped my birthday vacation to London, England. Oh man, I cannot stress enough how badly I’ve been wanting to visit the UK. Ever since I was a small child, reading the Paddington Bear books, & watching the Mary Poppins movie a thousand times, I’ve had a dream of visiting the city of London.

Then, back in 2016, everything aligned so perfectly, & I had the immense pleasure & rare opportunity to visit the city I’ve always longed to visit, but had always felt was out of my reach. I will never forget that incredible experience, from the people, to the sights, to the food, to the experiences Jian & I shared together. I even saved the handwritten birthday card the hotel staff wrote to me & placed in our hotel room along with a little complimentary chocolate confection. I truly had the time of my life & cannot wait for the next opportunity to visit my new favorite city!

Over these past few years, I haven’t been much of a celebrator of birthdays. I’m not very comfortable with all of the attention being focused on me, & as I am maturing in age, I have become increasingly aware of the modest yet obvious age gap between myself & Jian, as well as myself & a majority of my friends. I don’t like to focus on my age, but as the years go on, I tend to focus on it more & more, which makes me feel self-conscious about it. So, I end up not celebrating my birthday in order to avoid thinking about my age. Also, I feel like a party to celebrate my life is too indulgent & unnecessary. I celebrate my life everyday. I don’t need one day out of the year to feel special. I feel special right now, in fact. Until the next occasion, cheers everyone!

Today’s song of the day:

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This 99 Things That Bring Me Joy journal is really helping me relive & rethink about lots of fun memories from my childhood. I often find myself reminiscing about my own “good old days” & wishing that a lot of the fun things from my childhood would come back & become popular again…just like the whole modern-retro trend that’s happening in pop-culture right now with vinyl records & hi-fi record players making a huge comeback. Even Urban Outfitters is selling modern-retro/throwback audio devices, like a Sony Discman-esque CD player, a boomboxSony Walkman-esque cassette players, & even a retro shoebox tape recorder. You see, it’s not all Crosley record players that look like 1950s suitcases.

Sometimes, I even reminisce & wish I could go back in time to relive an oldie-but-goodie memory from my youth. For example, I wish I could go back & revisit all of the concerts & music festivals I went to as a teenager (which was a big whopping two times) & buy more band merch. This brings me to the journal’s list topic for today: one singularly unforgettable day in my life. There are two very unforgettable days of my life that specifically stand out in my mind, but I’m mostly going to talk about the first memory.

I can remember this event so clearly. It was the very first time I ever went to a music concert with my high school friends. I remember browsing the arts & entertainment section of the major Bay Area newspaper my parents had an old fashioned subscription to one day, & was looking to see which bands were performing in my area…which also meant which concerts my super strict parents would not allow me to go to. Just by chance, I found a tiny listing of concerts in one small column for all the bands that would be performing at a very popular music venue in San Francisco for that month (back in March 1998).

I was going down the list of bands, not knowing who most of the other bands were, when I happened to stumble upon the name of one of my all-time favorite Ska bands, Save Ferris. (I was freaking out on the inside.) Not only did I see the name of my favorite band (when I was in high school), but I also saw the names of two other bands that I really liked that were also co-headlining with my favorite band that weekend. I was so beyond excited that I had to cut out the concert listing from the newspaper, & bring it to school the next day to show all of my friends.

I had a bit of a hard time convincing any of my friends to go with me to this concert, since most of them didn’t know who any of the other bands were besides Sugar Ray, who had been popular on the radio at that time. Besides myself, I only had one other friend (she was the popular girl in our group) who actually knew who all of the other bands were. After she agreed to go with me to the concert, the other girls decided to go as well. This so-called ‘popular’ friend was one of my closest friends back then, & she was one of my biggest influences in discovering new music, but we had a huge falling out after high school, & I am not going to get into that drama right now. (Maybe I will save that story for a future blog post.)

Anyways, what made this concert so memorable, wasn’t just the epic show itself, or the fact that this was my very first concert experience, but it was also the first time in my life that I was successfully able to lie to my parents about my plans without getting caught. That was a big deal for me as a teenager because I’m such a terrible liar. Always have been, always will be.

During that time, back in 1998, my friends & I ran down to our nearest Tower Records shop (remember those) to each buy our tickets. I had lied to my parents about going to a sleepover at a friend’s house (not exactly lied, just omitted one giant detail). Luckily this friend that I mentioned lived on the same street as me…well so did our other popular friend, so it was pretty convenient for me to say I was sleeping over at a friend’s house for the weekend. My parents totally bought my sleepover ruse, & didn’t even have a second thought when I packed my backpack & sleeping bag & walked to my friends house.

I got even luckier because my friend, the one whose house I was sleeping over at, had fully told her parents about what we were planning to do, & they were totally cool with it. My friend’s mom even knew that I had totally lied to my parents about sneaking out to a concert in the big city, & helped me out by agreeing to cover for me in case my mom called to check-in on me. This friend’s mom has always been the “cool mom” out of all of our friends’ moms. Of course she was still a mom & made us swear on our lives that we would behave ourselves, not talk to random strangers, or put ourselves in sketchy situations with shady dudes, & all of the other stuff parents tell us not to do. We all piled into my friend’s car (she was the first in our group to not only get her driver’s license, but also get a car), & we still had a blast anyway.

Now here comes the part about the concert itself. Oh my gahhhhhd! Popping my concert-going cherry while seeing my favorite band Save Ferris perform live was an incredible & unforgettable experience. From what I can remember about the concert, the headlining bands performing were Sugar RayGoldfinger, & Save Ferris. The opening band was…& I can’t believe I am actually saying this… I N C U B U S. Yep, you heard correctly.

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INCUBUS was the opening band for that concert, & I remember there were people walking around the venue passing out free demo cassettes of their album S.C.I.E.N.C.E.. I had never heard of this band before, & my first impression was that I thought this band was weird. I really like INCUBUS’ music now, but back when they were first starting out, their music didn’t really appeal to me. I remember they had different types of drums, & they were, for lack of a better word, quite enthusiastic on stage. For a teenage girl just getting her feet wet in the giant pool of Punk & Ska music, I was more excited for the last band of the evening more than anyone else.

After the opening band, Sugar Ray went on stage & all the other ladies in the audience went nuts for Mark McGrath. He had a sculpted physique & those “Hey Ladies” bedroom eyes that all the 20-something women of those days just fell head-over-heels for. The band got the entire crowd pumped with all of their fun, catchy songs, & we all jammed out to their radio smash hit Fly. Then, when Mark McGrath took off his shirt, all the ladies hooted & hollered. You could tell the guys were all just waiting for the next band, Goldfinger, a super hype Punk band with an already established strong fan base.

I had heard a little bit about Goldfinger through the popular girl in my friend group. She was basically the person who introduced me to the whole Punk & Ska scenes in the first place. I barely knew any of the band’s songs, but at least I knew the basics like Here In Your BedroomMabel. My favorite Goldfinger song at that time was My Girlfriend’s Shower Sucks. To this day, it is one of the funniest songs I have ever heard in my life. Look up the lyrics yourself. I guarantee you’ll get a good laugh too.

Finally the time has come. My all-time favorite band is set to take the stage & perform their bloody arses off! I was buzzing with excitement to be able to see Save Ferris live. I had seen their music video for Come on Eileen at least a dozen times on MTV, & had listened to their songs on repeat so many times before the concert. It was finally time to see Monique Powell & the original gang live & in-person. The band performed all of their greatest hits from their It Means Everything album, like: The World Is New, Sorry My Friend, Everything I Want to Be, Come on Eileen, & pretty much my high school anthem/theme song…Under 21. For those of you who are still in high school, you’ll totally understand & live these lyrics in real life.

After the concert was over, Save Ferris was holding a live meet & greet in the basement of the venue. If you bought the band’s poster as well as their CD at the concert, you’ll get a chance to have the poster signed. I was so over-the-moon that I even got to see the band perform live, but to also get their autographs was a huge highlight of the evening. So, I quickly ran over to the merch table & not only bought their poster & CD, but I also bought my very first concert t-shirt. One of my friend’s was kind enough to help me wait in line to get my poster signed, & then we all drove back to the friend’s house for the actual sleepover.

That first concert was one I will always remember & cherish. I had my concert ticket laminated & proudly thumbtacked to a corkboard in my bedroom. Then, the following year, one of my cousins found out I was a huge fan of Save Ferris, & it turned out that she was also a fan of the band. She went to one of their concerts as well, & got one of the original band members Bill Uechi to write a sweet birthday message for my birthday on a piece of notepaper. I was so overjoyed that my cousin would go out of her way to get one of the band members to write me a personal note, that I even had the note framed, & it sat on my bedroom nightstand for many years.

There is, however, one negative part that is attached to this incredible memory. Many years after attending this first concert, I was cleaning out my childhood bedroom one day & decided to really overhaul my room. I was intent on decluttering my knick knacks, junk & all of my old clothes. I got rid of my autographed poster & my concert t-shirt which I will regret to this very day, but somehow I kept that darn CD, which is pretty much obsolete now, but Urban Outfitters might disagree. Then, about two years ago, I got the chance to see Save Ferris in concert again. I desperately scoured the internet, trying to find my old concert t-shirt again, but turned up empty handed. I was mentally kicking myself in the arse after that concert. Oh well. Que Sera, Sera!

So there you have it. That was me gushing over one the most unforgettable days of my life. After that first concert, I was able to see Save Ferris again (along with a ton of other awesome bands that I was a fan of) that same year at the Van’s Warped Tour. How lucky can one girl get?

Oh, did I also mention that I was sort of a skateboarding groupie? Yeah, I was what we called in those days a “poser”. I didn’t own a skateboard, nor did I even know how to skateboard, but I had a one-year subscription to Thrasher magazine, & I idolized all the skateboarding stars of the X-Games. I went to the Van’s Warped Tour with that very same friend who also liked Save Ferris. We jammed out to a ton of Punk & Ska music, ate expensive hot dogs with even more expensive Coca-Cola, & went on a shopping spree for discounted CDs. That was definitely a unforgettable year, not just one day.

Ever since that first concert, I got bit by the live music bug. I love going to concerts…festivals, not so much. I enjoy going to radio station Christmas concerts where they invite a bunch of bands to perform, but I am not a large, chaotic crowd type of person. I went to the Outside Lands festival in San Francisco back in 2015, just to see The Killers perform live, & that one music festival experience turned me off from going to another large music festival again for a looooong time. I haven’t made any new concert plans yet, but I heard The Black Keys will be performing at a huge venue in San Francisco again later this year, & I really want to go with Jian, but since I’m trying to procreate, it would be ill-advised for me to attend a high-tension event such as a loud concert. So…we’ll, just have to wait & see what awaits. Until the next blog, cheers Dudes…I mean Judes… (That was my stupid “Yesterday” Beatles movie pun.)

Today’s song of the day:

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Illustration credit: Salgoolulu via Pinterest

I am just going to come right out & say it. Hi, my name is melsenpai, & I have a sticker addiction. It’s been three weeks since my last sticker purchase. Every time I see a cute sticker, I feel compelled to buy it, even if I have no use for it. I have a better grasp on the art of restraint these days, but there are some days when I feel an overwhelming urge to splurge on the very first love of my life…stickers.

I have been collecting stickers since I was around 5-years old or so, & it has been my passion-hobby ever since. Everyone in my immediate household knows of my addiction, which I sugar-coatingly refer to as my hobby collection, & they neither support it nor are against it. I, for one, am totally, unequivocally for it. Yes, I am here for it bee-yotch! So, that is why I recently went on a mini shopping spree for stickers.

There is one brand I have been following since way back in 2007, called B-Side Label, from Japan. I first saw their decals during one of my first trips to Tokyo with Jian, at my all-time favorite home goods shop Tokyu Hands.  I didn’t pay much attention to the brand itself at that time. However, I remember choosing three designs: a llama, a chicken, & a blue fin tuna fish decal. I didn’t even have a clue as to what the Japanese phrases on the decals even meant. I just liked the designs, & wanted to stick them on my very first laptop that my parents got me for my birthday.

 

It wasn’t until much later, when I became more heavily involved in social media was when I rediscovered this brand once again. I found their Instagram page, & I’ve been “window shopping” ever since. Once B-Side Label announced that they would start shipping internationally to select countries, I immediately went on the hunt for my first purchase. (Finally I won’t have to trek all the way across the Pacific Ocean to get my hands on these sweet little decals.) For my first purchase I got three  small stickers to decorate my tablet, but my recent purchase was my biggest decal haul to date.

Here’s the unveiling of my haul. It took me a couple of days, yes d-a-y-s, to carefully select which ones I was ultimately going to get. There were so many designs I loved, but I forced myself to only choose the ones that would fit me best.

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I won’t go into all the blah-blah-blah boring details as to why I chose each & every one of these designs. Instead, I’d like to explain why I got these decals. One thing that really stands out in my mind about this brand is their attention to detail & quality. B -Side Label stands behind their products, & I can personally attest that these decals are extremely durable.

The main things I love the absolute most about these decals are that they are both waterproof & UV resistant, which means they won’t fade due to prolonged exposure to the sun AND they won’t peel or warp if they get wet. So, you can slap these bad boys on your bicycle, you car window, your laptop, or whatever you want, & the color will still look vibrant & they’ll still stay put. For an example, let me introduce you to my best friend, Richard, also known as my tablet.

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I have had this tablet, Richard, for a little over 5+ years or so, & it’s still chugging along. My tablet has been littered with so many stickers & decals over its lifetime, & so far none of the stickers/decals look used or abused. I’ve even slapped on a couple of the B-Side Label decals on him, & was able to peel off & re-apply them a few times while trying to figure out the best fitting places for each one. That’s another great thing about my B-Side Label decals, you know, the fact that you can peel them off & re-apply them & they still retain their stickiness & still look like new.

So there you have it. This was my latest haul post. It was kind of lame for me to make one whole topic about basic stickers, but I’d say that there’s nothing really basic about the ones I bought. I have no doubt that whatever I slap these babies on to, they’re going to last for a very, very long time. Until my next post, 君に乾杯!

Today’s song of the day:

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Flashback to that one time we saw ice cream on the walls.🍦 . . . . . . . . . . #FlashbackFriday #FBF #GelatoFestival #WeHo #gelato #GelatoIsNotIceCream #NotIceCream #LA #WallSconce #IceCreamCone #lighting #sconce #fixture #decor #design #cute #PhotoOfTheDay #FoodOfInstagram #instafood #IceCreamOfInstagram #instagallery #instapic #travel #vacation #family @linecamera_official @gelatofestival
I love when the foam in my espresso drinks are thick & frothy. ☕️☁️ . . . . . . . . . . #HotCoffee #caffeine #coffee #espresso #FlatWhite #HotDrink #drink #cozy #WarmAndCozy #WinterWeather #TheresAChillInTheAir #foam #FlatWhiteArt #LatteArt #CoffeeArt #panda #foamy #thick #HappyHour #CoffeeHouse #BigBoxCoffeeShop #LineCamera #CoffeeOfInstagram #FoodieApp #DrinksOfInstagram #instalove #instapic @linecamera_official @foodieapp.official @starbucks
It’s beginning to look a lot like Xmas. 🎄 . . . . . . . . . . #Christmas #Xmas #holidays #decorations #TrimTheTree #HappyHolidays #FauxTree #DontKillTheTrees #SaveTheTrees #UseFauxTrees #festive #instapic #instagallery #FestiveMood #TheHolidaysAreHere #ChristmasTime #DeckTheHalls
Fries are my one true vice.🍟 . . . . . . . . . . #latergram #DuckFatFries #FrenchFries #fries #PommeFrites #frites #DuckFat #snack #food #DistrictDTLA #DistrictBar #TheBloc #TheBlocLA #DTLA #delicious #HotAndFresh #crispy #SoGood #MyVice #PhotoOfTheDay #FoodOfInstagram #instafood #SnacksOfInstagram #instagallery #instapic #travel #family #vacation @linecamera_official @foodieapp.official @districtdtla
My new favorite drink.🥤 . . . . . . . . . . #UmeSoda #plum #JapanesePlum #JapaneseDrink #PlumSoda #FizzyDrink #Kamino #KaminoSoda #キミノ #兵庫 #関西 #Hyogo #Kansai #seasonal #delicious #FarmerMade #HandCrafted #artisanal #Japan #日本 #artisan #PhotoOfTheDay #DrinksOfInstagram #instagallery #instapic #refreshing #travel #vacation #Holidays @linecamera_official @foodieapp.official @kimino
Steak? But, of course! . . . . . . . . . . #FiletMignon #filet #medallion #PerfectCut #8ounce #medium #tomato #FreshTomato #MeatOnOcean #SantaMonica #promenade #lunch #steak #carnivore #ILoveSteak #FoodOfInstagram #instafood #instagallery #travel #Thanksgiving #vacation #FoodieApp #LineCamera #SteaksOfInstagram #delicious #NotAKetoDiet #NotAPaleoDiet #NoDiet @foodieapp.official @linecamera_official @meatonocean

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