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I am chugging along on my 99 Things That Bring Me Joy list train. This next stop brings me to the list of my oldest friend. Growing up, I didn’t have a large group of friends. I was an extremely shy child; so shy to the point where I spent a majority of my Kindergarten year of school cowering in the corner by the door of the classroom. I was so extremely shy & frightened to sit along with my classmates, that I spent the entire class period sitting in the corner between the front door & a table, doing & saying absolutely nothing the whole time. At the urging of my teacher (who was very gentle & kind), my parents tried to encourage me to engage with my fellow classmates, but like I always did when I was that scaredy-cat, little tyke, I bawled my eyes out. (I was an easy crier when I was a little kid.)

It wasn’t until I met a girl in my Kindergarten class who broke me out of my shell, & we became fast friends. Her family came all the way from Japan, & we were both two shy little girls with runny, sniffling noses who were both extremely into Hello Kitty & other cute Japanese things.

I don’t quite remember the details of how the two of us met or became such close friends in such a short amount of time, but we built a close friendship rather quickly. Since this girl came from one of the rare Japanese families to move into our neighborhood, both of our families bonded fast. I don’t know how, but my dad knew all of the Japanese speaking neighbors in our immediate neighborhood, & all of the moms got to know each other very well.

When we first met this family, my dad was thrilled to interact with a fellow neighbor who was also born & raised in Japan, someone he could freely speak Japanese to, who understood him. That’s how both of our dads became fast friends. Both of our moms also became good friends, with my mom teaching my friend’s mom how to speak English. My friend’s mom, in turn, taught my mom all about Japanese culture, & my mom was also able to pick up a few Japanese phrases here & there. I remember my friend had two older brothers who pretty much kept to themselves whenever I would hang out at their house, but like in true sibling nature, both brothers found us girls to be annoying (even though we never really bothered them).

I was super sad when my friend had announced after three years of living close by that her family was moving back to Japan. At that time, I had no idea what was going on or why my friend was all of a sudden moving back to Japan. Back in those days, especially when you’re a little kid, you never heard of the work-abroad program that was so popular in Japan. Big-time companies would send selected employees to work overseas for a maximum of three years, to build work experience & learn more about foreign business. My friend’s dad had come to the United States for his company’s work-abroad program, & the whole family moved to my neighborhood. I got to know this girl through school, & my parents got to know their family through all of the times we would spend at each other’s houses on play dates.

Ever since my friend had moved back to Japan, we have kept in touch over the years. We send each other greeting cards with letters written inside. I’ve traveled to Japan to visit her multiple times, & once stayed overnight at her parents’ (gorgeous & substantial) house in Tokyo. She has come back to visit the Bay Area a few times & take a walk down memory lane, checking out our old school grounds & passing by the house she once lived in.

A lot of time has passed between us, but we still keep in touch. My fondest memory was when my parents had planned a huge family reunion in Japan, & they had extended the invitation to my friend & her parents (her brothers were both studying & working abroad at the time). All of my extended family members came out, & we packed an entire Italian restaurant with our reunion group. My oldest brother (who is my dad’s first biological child) with his wife & two daughters were part of our travel group, along with my brother’s best friend (with wife & two daughters). My dad was extremely generous to invite my brother’s friend with his family to join us on our family reunion trip. It was so much fun interacting with my extended family & all of our friends.

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Here is a photo of my friend & I with our moms during my family’s huge reunion party circa 2006.

All in all, I am very thankful to call this girl my friend. We have both grown up so much from our days of sniffling noses & playing with Hello Kitty toys, but we’ve definitely stayed good friends throughout our time apart. There was another girl that I met in primary school after this friend had moved away, & we also became fast friends. We went through a shit ton of ups & downs (mostly downs), but I will leave that whole can of worms for a different blog post. I want this post to be happy & upbeat. So until the next time, cheers & T.G.I.F.!! (I really need a break this weekend.)

Today’s song of the day:

 

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In my 99 Things That Bring Me Joy journal, I have reached list number 7: listing your closest relatives. I find this list a bit hard to write about, as I have complicated relationships with some of my closest (DNA-wise) relatives. I have a good relationship with practically everyone in my family, including my 90-year old grand-uncle & 96-year old grand-aunt (both siblings of my maternal grandmother). However, in regards to my immediate family, our family dynamic is quite strained/tense.

If I had to make a definitive list based on who I believe are my closest relatives, well, I would definitely put my mom at the very top of my list. I have a wonderful relationship with my mother that continues to flourish every day, even as she lives with Jian & me. I wouldn’t exactly say that my mom is my “best friend” because I believe in parent-child boundaries, but we are extremely close & talk to each other about every subject under the sun.

When I was growing up, I feared my mom so much. She was an extremely strict disciplinarian, who had no qualms with disciplining me in public. I would often get myself into trouble, doing things my mom had specifically told me not to do, & that’s when my mom would really lay down the law…not with time-outs, or sitting in the corner, but with physical punishments (nothing severe, just basic spankings & light paddling with a thick/hard hairbrush). I had ultimately feared my mom’s strict discipline as a child, but grew to appreciate it as an adult, turning what would be perceived as punishment into a learning lesson.

On the flip side, I was super close to my dad when I was a very young child, but as I got older, I would often clash with my dad & we would get into arguments both small & extreme. My teen years living with my dad was especially tenuous. I was going through puberty, & wanted to be like my peers with more lenient parents who let them stay out late & drive to the big city, & go to music concerts. My parents, my dad especially, wouldn’t let me even hang out at a friend’s house on a school night, even though most of my friends lived on the same street as I did. So, that led to more than a few clashes with my dad, but eventually, I learned to stop fighting against my dad’s words, & start to listen to his words more. Gradually, as I further grew into adulthood, I became even closer to my dad, & we built a bond I will treasure forever even though his life was cut short.

I would then say, after listing my parents, that Jian would be the next closest in terms of relationships. He is my absolute most best friend in the entire world, & there is nothing in the world that could break that bond. Jian & I talk about absolutely everything, from internet memes, to our individual hopes, dreams & fears, all the way to bowel movements & flatulence.

Yes, at one point, Jian used to call me every day at work while he was making his morning deposits in the lavatory, & I would sometimes do the same to him, & we would often joke around that we should send each other photos of evidence, a la the “pics or it didn’t happen” meme. THAT is how close we are…resorting to talking about poop. However, aside from our easy banter, we also talk to each other about personal issues, life goals, & everything in between. I don’t even have girl-friends who I can talk to this freely. Jian truly is one-of-a-kind.

And then the next up on my list would be my two older brothers. It’s been a strange & difficult journey, since there is such a huge age gap between the three of us. My oldest brother is 17 years older, & my second oldest brother is 9 years older, but we have grown closer over the years, & we communicate with each other regularly.  It’s a bit difficult to keep in touch with my brothers, as the oldest has a family of his own to take care of (his two daughters are already out of university & into the working world), & my other brother lives in Southern California, but we still call & text each other regularly, & I will always cherish the memories I have of my brothers helping to taking care of me & playing games with me when I was growing up.

Here’s where things get a bit sticky-icky-icky. I do have an older sister, but things between my sister & the rest of our family is extremely strained. Due to many personal circumstances that have occurred throughout our lives, tension has continued to build over the years, & many unresolved issues have resurfaced to become obstacles blocking the path to our family’s unity. We still keep in touch with my sister, albeit limited to her terms, & we try to maintain a close relationship with her two children (my beloved 11-year old nephew & 9-year old niece), but when we get together as a family, the tension boils to the surface, & things spiral out of control. So, we try to keep things on my sister’s terms, in order to placate her hair-trigger temper & to “keep the boat from rocking”.

I’d love to build a closer relationship with my sister. We did not spend a lot of time together when we were growing up. My sister is 6 years older than I am, & when we were growing up she was always steps ahead of me: liking boys, wearing makeup, hanging out with friends. By the time I would reach a certain age, she would already be much older & had moved on to more mature things, which always left me doing things by myself while my sister would be going out with her friends. So that left me with no older sister figure for me to look up to at home.

We never got a chance to build a relationship when we were growing up, & it became even more difficult as we got older, since my sister moved out of the house as soon as she graduated high school & went off to university, never looking back. I had thought we were building our relationship once my sister became a mother, since our whole family centered around her & her kids, but our relationship became strained when I started getting closer to her children, & she thought that was totally inappropriate for an aunt to be so close to her nieces & nephews. Ever since that notion crept into her mind, things between us have not been the same. Our relationship has now devolved into one developed out of her paranoia, & my walking on egg shells around her while trying to placate her…unsuccessfully, to her chagrin.

Overall, things just are what they are. We are all trying to make the best of our situations, & getting by one day at a time. I am so happy & grateful that I have a wonderful & supportive family surrounding me, with three awesome nieces & one cool nephew. We’ll just have to wait & see what happens next. Until next time fam, cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

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For the past couple of weeks, the weather in my area has been so beautiful during the daytime, but super chilly in the evenings. I am really, really, really enjoying this kind of weather (warm in the day, cold at night). One of my favorite aspects of this weather is when I get to step into a relaxing, hot shower while it’s icy cold outside. Then, while I’m in the shower, I take that alone time to let all of my innermost thoughts flow out of my mind. It feels like a therapeutic release, letting all of my bottled up thoughts of that day just flow out.

Sometimes I get really deep into my thoughts, talking to myself internally about family drama or about personal doubts. Other times I’ll just talk out loud to myself, ranting about unimportant things, like some moronic thing I heard a vapid, air head say on a dumb reality TV show. Last night, while taking a late night shower, I had some really random thoughts swirling around in my mind.


There are times when I’ll share the bathroom with Jian, & we’ll both catch each other humming or singing a song one of us will recognize. One of us will just jump right in & sing right along with the other person. Usually I’m the one who catches him singing or humming a song in the shower, & I’ll often times recognize the song, sneak into the bathroom as quietly as I possibly can, & then surprise him by loudly singing along with him. There are other times when Jian will catch me off guard & try to sing along with me, which causes us to break in to a fit of laughter.

Let me just include a tiny little disclaimer here by saying: neither Jian nor I have great singing capabilities. We are not the best singers. We’re not going to audition for American Idol at any time in our lives. Not gonna happen, ever. However, we do enjoy singing with our friends at karaoke bars, & I’d say we’re pretty decent at it. I mean, at least we can carry a tune, & neither of us are tone deaf…so I think either one of us singing in the shower is not a crime.

I, myself, love singing along to my favorite songs. I’ve always got my Spotify playlists playing when I’m working at my computer station at home, & I’m always singing along to all of the songs on my playlists. I also sing along to the radio whenever I’m driving in my car. Although I won’t really sing along to the car radio if I’ve got other passengers in my car other than Jian. I’ve also sung open mic karaoke at multiple dive bars…sober. However, usually my friends & I like to sing at private room karaoke lounges (’cause we get the mic all to ourselves & get to pick our own songs). Perhaps all that singing in the shower has prepared me for karaoke. LOL!


I sometimes complain to Jian about this, but I really don’t enjoy the “perks” of being a woman, especially a woman who takes care in keeping up a presentable, decent appearance. I will lament to Jian that I sometimes wish I could be more like a man. Then I wouldn’t have to spend a frivolous amount of time in the shower shaving body parts, using fancy smelling soaps & shampoos, & doing all of this frou-frou stuff to make my hair soft, shiny & pretty. On top of that, once I step out of the shower, I have to rub special lotion all over my body, apply all kinds of creams & anti-wrinkle & anti-blemish, blah, blah, blah on my face.

For guys, all they have to do is use a generic soap & shampoo, scrub up, rinse off, & towel themselves dry. That’s basically all there is to it for a no-frills kind of guy like Jian. Well, I will admit that I got Jian to use a facial moisturizer to hydrate his super dry, flaky skin, but that’s pretty much the only extra step he has in his nightly shower routine. I on the other hand, have 20 more steps to take before I can throw on my pj’s & climb into bed. Ugh! Why can’t I just have a three-step nightly routine, like Jian…a dude? It’s annoying sometimes.


My final thought blurb is about that time right when you finish washing & you turn off your shower. Yes, that does sound weirdly specific…but I swear this is going somewhere. As I had mentioned earlier on in this meaningless blog post, it’s been super cold at night where I live, & there’s nothing better on a cold night than taking a hot shower…or bath. (I’m an equal opportunity bather.) However, the one part I absolutely loath the most about showering is those five to ten seconds right after you turn off that glorious, hot water & reach out to grab your towel.

No matter what you do, you will feel that initial gust of cold wind hit your body, & it’s just “bad news bears” all around. It feels like you’ve just jumped in to the deepest waters of Antarctica, naked. Sometimes I’ll try to just poke my hand around a small sliver opening in my shower curtain, & try to stealthily pull my towel in to avoid letting the hot steam escape, but I always end up letting in a frosty gust of wind into my hot, steamy cocoon. It annoys the hell out of me. I was actually thinking this yesterday as I was just about to finish my shower. I kept saying to myself that I wish I could just stand under the hot water for ten more minutes before I have to MacGuyver my towel into my steamy shower cocoon behind my shower curtain. I nearly froze my nips off trying to pull my fluffy towel behind the curtain, but I managed to not freeze my body too much.

The struggle is real, folks. A real steamy struggle. I am so sorry for this stupid post about taking showers. I wish I had more engaging content to write about this week, but my brain is on strike. Until next time, cheers & stay soapy friends…

Today’s song of the day:

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