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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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In my quest to discover 99 Things That Bring Me Joy, the next list in my journal asks me to describe one memorable family vacation, & there is one specific vacation that pops up in my mind vividly. I’ve been on many meaningful & fun family vacations throughout my life. Some of my favorite family trips were of my family along with my dad’s childhood & lifelong friends (including their respective families) going on summer camping trips in Lake Tahoe, up in Northern California. However, the most memorable trip I can fondly recall was an amazing road-trip my immediate family went on from way back in the mid-1990s.

My dad had taken a serious chunk of time off of work to take my mom, me & my younger cousin visiting from SoCal for the summer, on a really memorable road-trip in his modestly awesome Toyota Sienna minivan. We traveled from the Bay Area, up to & through Northern California, through Oregon & Washington, then ending all the way up to British Columbia in Canada. It was one of the best family road-trips I’ve ever been on, all thanks to the incredible planning by my late father.

Now, a lot of time has passed since then, & I don’t remember every little town we visited. I can only vaguely guess that my dad drove up Interstate 5 from California, through Oregon, then Washington, all the way up to British Columbia, Canada. Some of the little towns we drove through were really quaint & cute. Others were unique & fun. Back then, I was a teenager still going through puberty, & my cousin was barely even in her tween years, & those were the days before the technology boom of smartphones & tablets. So, naturally my cousin & I spent most of our time in the car either napping or playing the Cat’s Cradle string game. (Side note: We once tried to play with cards in my dad’s minivan, but quickly found out we all got carsick super fast & one of my cousins actually hurled into a plastic bag.)

Starting around San Francisco, we rode my dad’s above-average minivan up north, somewhere near Redding. We spent one night in an economy hotel, then continued up further up north, passing through Portland, Oregon & then on to Washington state. I remember one of our main stops along our road-trip being in Leavenworth, Washington. We stayed in a really cool hotel that had individual cottage style lodging. I specifically remember our cottage having an all-white color scheme. All of the wood furniture was light colored (like they were from IKEA or something), & the layout had a cute little kitchen & living room space, a master bedroom, & a separate smaller bedroom…the one my cousin & I shared. The only other time in my life where I had ever visited a Scandinavian-esque town was when my family would drive through the little town of Solvang in California on the way to visit family in Los Angeles. Let me tell you, Leavenworth is a whole other experience. It was a really cool & interesting touristy town.

My mom had a blast shopping for lots of little blue & white porcelain bric-a-brac to clutter up our house, as well as buying yards & yards full of delicate, handmade lace curtains to add just that little touch of gaudiness to our mid-century modern Eichler home. My dad loved sampling all of the delicious traditional German delicacies at the local restaurants. My cousin & I were so excited to have one unchaperoned night all to ourselves in our little hotel cottage, while my parents had a night to themselves to have an adult dinner.

Later that night as we went to bed, my cousin & I had to share one queen-sized bed in our small room. I remember the down comforter on the bed was the most fluffiest, & softest comforter I had ever slept on. It was super thick & pillowy. My cousin & I liked to stay up late (very late according to my parents’ standards) & chat. We tried to keep our voices low, thinking that my parents couldn’t hear us from two rooms away, but we could still hear my dad scolding us to go to sleep. How do you expect two giddy teenage girls to sleep when it’s barely dark outside? I mean, sometimes my dad’s bedtime hours were ridiculous.

After leaving the town of Leavenworth, we continued to travel north toward Canada. Our destination…The Buchart Gardens in Brentwood Bay, somewhat near Victoria. Here’s where my mind is getting a little fuzzy. I can’t remember which parts of Canada we drove through to get to the ferry that would take us to Brentwood Bay. The only part of this portion of our trip that I can clearly remember is the time we spent on the ferry & the time we spent at The Buchart Gardens. My mom easily gets seasick, & I remember there were parts of our ferry ride that wasn’t exactly the smoothest. My cousin & I were so bored on the 10+ hour ferry ride, by the time we got to our destination, we were ready to kiss the ground.

When we arrived at The Buchart Gardens, we were awestricken. The Buchart Gardens is one of my parents’ most favorite places in the world, & it was one of my dad’s goals to take his family there for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I will admit here that my cousin & I didn’t appreciate the gardens as much as we should/could have. For two teenagers who were mostly interested in boys, TV, & hanging out with friends, in the beginning of our tour we weren’t as enthusiastic about looking at bushes & flowers for the entire day. However, as the day progressed, we took a bigger interest in the gardens. We all fell in love with the bright colors & grandeur of the gardens, & had such a memorable experience. I remember my dad taking a lot of photos of the three of us ladies: my mom, my cousin, & me.

We didn’t stay in Canada for very long. Shortly after our day in The Buchart Gardens, we headed back down south in my dad’s trusty minivan. We passed through Seattle, Washington, & I was super excited to be able to see the iconic Space Needle as we drove through the city. We then, took another drive through downtown Portland in Oregon, & I was a little disappointed that we couldn’t stop to look around for a bit. Then, as we passed through Northern California again, we stopped at a little town where we saw a shop selling handmade wooden furniture made by Quakers. My parents ended up buying a wooden China cabinet/hutch for our kitchen that we had shipped to our house. That China cabinet is still sitting in our kitchen, & it still looks as new as the day we brought it into our home.

My  absolute most memorable experiences from this entire road-trip was when we stopped at a cute little toy shop while strolling the downtown area of this town who’s name I can’t remember. My dad let my cousin & I each pick out one souvenir to buy, & I vividly remember picking an alarm clock. Well, it wasn’t just any plain old alarm clock. No. This alarm clock was shaped like a puffer fish. It creeped me out at first because the teeth of the puffer fish represented the numbers on a traditional clock, but the design eventually won my heart over with the little rotating clown fish that represented the second hand of the clock. Let me show you an example of this clock for your reference.

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My dad thought I was absolutely nuts for choosing something so unattractive & weird as my souvenir, & my mom tried to get me to pick something else, but I was determined to get this alarm clock. Ever since I first saw it in the display window at the shop I was completely drawn to it. No matter what else I saw at the store, my eyes kept darting back to this ridiculous alarm clock. I just fell in love with it, & had no regrets ever since buying it. This alarm clock lasted for nearly 10+ years before it finally “clocked out” for good. (Pun intended.)

I initially thought I would get a scare every time I would walk into my room & see this creature staring straight at me, with it’s mouth gaping open & baring its sharp teeth, but it didn’t bother me at all. It took me a couple of weeks to get adjusted to having such a large object, especially a clock, occupying so much valuable space on my small nightstand, but it was a pretty smooth adjustment.

This alarm clock may look kitschy & like a cheap novelty toy (it was not very cheap), but it served its purpose well. I used the alarm function of this clock every day for school, & it worked great until one day it just stopped working & I almost was late for school. I had tried changing the battery, but that didn’t work, & I knew then that the clock was busted & broken. It would’ve cost me more money to repair the clock than it was actually worth, so I ended up tossing it out.

Now, I wish I still had that clock today, even in its non-working condition. It would’ve been nice to keep it just as a sentimental keepsake of our amazing & unforgettable road-trip as a little family. I loved telling strangers that my little cousin was my sister. I never had any younger siblings growing up, & I had always dreamed of having younger siblings. Back in those days, I hated being the youngest child, always getting yelled at or picked on by my older siblings, & being overbearingly over-protected by my parents.

Having my younger cousin around during the summer holidays when we were growing up was so much fun. We made so many great memories together, playing, talking, & learning about life together. Now she’s a mother of two & living her best life. I am currently in the process of expanding & adding parts to my already-in-progress best life ever. So, let’s get on to the next post. Until next time, cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

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One thing I remember very vividly from my childhood was playing board games with my siblings & cousins. We were all pretty close in age, so we enjoyed spending time together. We loved playing games & making home movies (which would be a good topic for a separate post).

I look back now & realize that I sucked at playing games. I never read the instructions. I never wanted to follow the game rules. My older brother was super patient & nice, always offering to teach me how to play one of his more grown-up board games (like Risk, Monopoly, Stratego). I never realized back then that he would cheat a little by not teaching me all the rules, but I also just plain sucked at playing games. I never had a sharp mind for strategy & was easily impulsive when it was my turn.

Even though I wasn’t very good at playing games (board games, card games, puzzle games, & video games especially), I enjoyed playing them. There were a few that I really liked to play, & it took me quite a while to think far back in my old memories to come up with this shortened list.


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One of the very first board games that I learned to play & really liked was the iconic game Candyland. Even though I didn’t eat a lot of candy when I was a little kid, I still loved to play this sugary, candy-coated, confectionery themed board game. I think one of the reasons why I liked to play this game so much was: 1. it reminded me a lot of my favorite cartoon character of the 1980s Strawberry Shortcake, & 2. the game was easy to play due to the simple instructions.

I thought the illustrations on the board game were cute, & I’d examine all the candies & sweets. My mom wouldn’t really let me eat sugary treats that often when I was a kid. Well, I never really was interested in eating candies & sweets anyway, but I still enjoyed playing a colorful game centered around them.


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I remember there was a girl who lived on my street, & we were in the same grade together. We became fast friends, & I would spend nearly every day at her house  after school, listening to her mom’s classic vinyl records from the 1960s & playing tons of board games. This girl had a really fun geography game called Where In The World?, & when we played the game, we would never really follow the instructions.

When we played this game together, we’d just take the geography cards & use them to guess each country the other person was describing. There were of course many other pieces & game boards that came along with the game, along with 2 variations on how to play the game, but my school friend & I would just make up our own guessing game with the geography cards. We just had so much childish fun making up our own games & playing together after school.


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Another board game I like to play when I was a little kid was Clue. It wasn’t until I became a teenager when I finally saw the Clue movie starring actor Tim Curry, but I still had fun playing this mystery, who-done-it game. I had hours of fun playing this board game, & of course every kid loved to use the secret passages on the board to move from room to room on their turns.

My school friend once let me borrow her Clue board game, which had the original packaging from 1963 (the pea green box with the big fingerprint & characters lined up on the box top), but after borrowing the game, she had moved away without giving her new address, & we both had totally forgotten that I had borrowed the board game from her. It wasn’t until a long time later, when my parents were cleaning out a storage closet, when they stumbled upon it & asked me if I still wanted to keep it. I had no way to return this board game back to this schoolmate, as we had not only lost contact, but also had grown apart & our friendship was broken up (to a point of unsalvageable, but I’ll save that for another post). I think playing this board game played a part in my future interest in solving logic puzzles (you know the ones from those cheap $1.99 magazines at the grocery store).


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Ok, so I didn’t learn about this murder-myster party game until I was a much older teenager, but when I first saw this game at the toy store, I knew it would be so much fun to play. I loved dressing up in costumes back then, & I thought it would be fun to play a role-playing mystery game with all of my high school friends.

I even planned my sweet 16th birthday around one of these party games. I tried to decorate my house in the theme of the game, & sent out invitations to all my friends asking them to dress up in costume (but none of them decided to dress up, which I didn’t mind). We had a great time guessing the mystery of the game’s story & having fun snacks. It made my birthday quite fun & memorable.


As I’m writing this blog post I’m also simultaneously watching the movie Pirate Radio again for the umpteenth time. I think I’ve already watched this movie three times in the past month or so. This movie is one of my favorites, & I’ll never get tired of watching it. It’s gotten to the point where I can practically recite parts of the movie’s dialogue right along with the movie.

Jian, of course, finds my movie watching habits boring (& sometimes predictable), but I don’t mind one bit. I like rewatching my favorite movies over & over & over…without any shame or embarassment. As a matter of fact, I’m going to end this post & finish watching the end of this movie (which is one of my favorite scenes). Until next time, cheers, mates!

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