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Well, a lot has happened in the past couple of months that I haven’t had the time to talk about in this blog. It has taken me nearly three months to finally pull myself together & sit down to write. I have quite a few things to tell you all. I don’t even know where to begin, & I don’t want to ramble on & on. So here I go.

I guess I will start at the top of my list of topics, which will be last year’s Christmas holiday. It was a very jam-packed holiday break, most likely the busiest Christmas break I have ever experienced. My grand-uncle (grandmother’s youngest brother) celebrated his 90th birthday with a grand banquet celebration. Nearly every single family member from my mom’s side of my family all descended upon the San Francisco Bay Area for the first time in decades. Being surrounded by all of my relatives, & especially my first cousins whom I’m becoming even closer to, was a blast. It was just a shame that my niece & nephew couldn’t be there & get to know their own cousins from their generation.

Christmas itself was pretty much the same as every other year, with the exception of my niece & nephew (yet again). Things between this side of the family & their side of the family have become extremely tense in the recent months. It’s not something I want to open up about at this time, but I will say that that particular situation is what caused me to make a firm New Year’s resolution about being mindful, patient, & careful of what comes out of my mouth.

Then right after Christmas, Jian & I celebrated the new year together. We got tickets to see Portugal. The Man in concert on New Year’s Eve, & we had the best time celebrating together even though we both were recovering from severe colds. Oh man, it was a real huge bummer when everybody in our household got a cold right before the new year. We were all sniffling, sneezing, & trying to relieve our runny, drippy noses as well as fighting off a nasty coughing spell.

Nevertheless, Jian & I had a great time at the concert. We were super excited to finally be able to watch Portugal. The Man live in concert for the first time, & were even more excited that another one of the bands we liked, Chicano Batman, was going to be the opening act that night. Though we were bummed that Chicano Batman didn’t end up performing our favorite song & their most popular song on the radio “Friendship Is A Small Boat In The Storm“.

When P.TM came on stage to perform, we were already in the dancing mood. We were each wearing our free paper party hats (courtesy of the venue) & getting super pumped up to sing along to our favorite songs. We loved that this band invited a local American First Nations tribe to perform a ceremonial chant before their set performance (as they do before every one of their concerts). However, we did not love the smoke machine they used on stage. That smoke machine was incredibly annoying, & whoever decided to place the smoke machine directly in front of the lead singer(s) wasn’t thinking practically, or even thinking at all! That stupid smoke machine created so much smoke that it completely engulfed the main band members at the front of the stage & you could hardly see anything happening on the stage because of that stupid machine. It was both annoying & distracting. In between songs, when the smoke machine was turned off, that’s about the only time you could actually see the lead singer John Gourley.

It was weird that the smoke machine was only directed towards the front corner of the stage where the main microphones were staged. The smoke did not even reach the rest of the stage, so the smoke was very concentrated to only one side of the stage. The funny thing that happened at the concert though, was when it came time to count down to the new year & the venue was preparing to drop a ton of balloons from the ceiling. Because the band had this crazy laser light show background, the laser lights would pop the balloons as they fell from the ceiling, making an extremely loud popping noise. People were also purposely throwing balloons into the laser lights just to pop the other balloons. By the time the concert was over, the 300+ balloons were whittled down to approximately 10 or so.

There was one couple sitting next to us where the wife slept through the entire concert. As soon as she sat down in her seat, she made herself comfortable & proceeded to take a nap. The husband went out to get drinks, which the woman never touched, & sat in his seat the entire time just bobbing his head once in a while.  Then right before the countdown to the new year, the husband woke the wife up & they both walked out of the venue. Neither of them seemed happy, nor happy to be there. We still had a memorable concert experience that night.

Shortly after ringing in the new year, one of my cousins hosted her 21st birthday party in Las Vegas. All of the aunts, uncles, & cousins gathered to celebrate our cousin’s milestone birthday, & boy was it a memorable weekend celebration! We all had such a blast spending time together as one big happy family, & I was especially happy to spend time with a cousin I consider to be like my little sister. Oh, I think now would be a good time to let you in on a little secret about my extended family. They love going to Las Vegas, & they love to gamble…but mostly they love to eat, drink & be merry.  My relatives go to Las Vegas at least 4 or 5 times a year, & they really know how to show you a good time when you visit there.

Here comes the final part of this post. This is the real reason why I have been M.I.A. from this blog for the past couple of months. I have been seeing a fertility doctor for a majority of the past two months. I’ve been going through a complicated medication routine/schedule, getting blood tests nearly every other day, getting exams from my doctor. It’s been a very busy time for me personally. All of this back-&-forth to & from the doctor’s clinic has been wearing me out, & on top of that, I recently had to be put on another strict medication regimen where I have to get a long needle shot in my butt. Yes, I said butt! But this is all worth it because I just found out some exciting & positive news that I have successfully procreated (with the help of medical science). I don’t want to talk about it too much in this blog post, but let’s just say that I am both elated & scared shitless (which is totally normal), & that’s all I’m going to say on this subject. I do not want to turn this site into another mommy blog.

I hope all of this reading hasn’t worn you out. Until next time, cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

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This past summer I was extremely excited that I got to relive a favorite childhood experience with Jian. When I was growing up, my dad would take our whole family to go camping at Lake Tahoe. We always went camping with my dad’s childhood friends & their respective families. My dad would plan everything down to the last detail.

My dad would always book a camping site at one of the fancy-schmancy state-run campgrounds in Lake Tahoe, & when I say “fancy”, I mean the campground had public water spigots (for washing your cookout utensils, etc.) as well as proper locker room style showers & toilet stalls. Most outdoorsmen/women & true adventurists would say that’s considered cheating or glamping, but it was one modern comfort we had to have in order for all the moms to agree to go camping with our group.

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My dad & me at Lake Tahoe

My mom hated camping, but my dad loved it, ever since he learned to camp while being in the Eagle Scouts. When my dad was growing up in Japan, he joined one of the first International Boy Scouts troops, & his troop would often times hike up Mount Fuji & learn how to do outdoorsy survivalist things at the base camp there. That’s where my dad built up his passion for nature, camping, & the great outdoors. My mom, on the other hand, grew up in the heart of the big city in Taiwan & never developed a fondness for the wild outdoors. So in order for my dad to convince my mom to go camping every year, he’d have to find a campground with a few extra creature comforts (like proper toilets & coin-operated showers) so my mom wouldn’t be completely “roughing it”.

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My dad even took my cousins camping with our family friends.

In the very beginning when my dad first started taking our whole family camping, I hated it. I was too little (a.k.a. young) to do any of the things the older kids were doing, so I had to stay back at the campsite with my mom. On top of that, I was scared of getting bitten by bugs, & I hated being/getting dirty. Then, once I joined the Girl Scouts, I learned how to take care of myself & how to do lots of fun camping things with my Girl Scout troop. That’s when I truly started appreciating how much fun camping could be. Every summer after that I looked forward to my dad’s pre-planned camping trips.

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We always camped with the same family. All 3 dads were in the same Boy Scouts troop back in Japan.

Years later, after all of us kids had grown up & gone off to college, my parents stopped camping. Little-by-little my mom donated & gave away all of our deluxe camping gear (which have now become trendy collector’s items), & our yearly camping excursion became a long ago memory. My dad was disappointed that we stopped this yearly summer tradition, but everyone else lost interest in camping, even going to Lake Tahoe where we used to own a vacation cabin in the South Lake Tahoe area. We have since sold our vacation property, since it had become to difficult & complicated for my mom to manage after my dad had passed.

From the first time I had met Jian, I had been mentioning wanting to go on a camping trip, possibly with a big group of friends, or even going with just him. I annoyed regaled him with colorful stories about vacationing in Lake Tahoe & going camping in the great outdoors (managed by park rangers & run by the state of California’s Recs & Parks department). We occasionally talked about going camping with our friends, but we never actually planned it.

I would bring up the subject with Jian every so often during our conversations in our relationship, & we would often talk about making plans but never actually follow through. It wasn’t until this year when I finally was able to convince Jian to go camping with me. Jian was originally born in Canton, China & eventually immigrated to Midtown Manhattan in New York City before ultimately settling down in the California Bay Area. Needless to say he never had any opportunity to explore & camp in the great outdoors.

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One of the biggest mistakes we made was booking our campsite so late in the camping season, but we were still able to grab a sweet spot at the Tahoe State Recreation Area in Lake Tahoe. Ok, once you hear where this state-run campground is located, you’re going to laugh & call us “cheaters” & not authentic campers because our campground was located about a couple of hundred feet away from a shopping strip mall with a grocery store & a CVS Pharmacy as well as local shops & restaurants. Basically, we were located right on the outskirts of the city center, but hey, at least our campground was also right next to the lake with its own dock access.

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Despite not being at a real rugged campground, we both had a great time. The campground we stayed at was a perfect starter campsite for a beginner like Jian. I had the best time teaching Jian all about the ways of camping. I helped him pitch our tent & set up our camping gear. (To this day, Jian still doesn’t know hot to fold up our outdoor lawn chairs.) During the day, we took long hikes around the trails & had a relaxing time hanging out by the lake. In the evenings, we would have simple cookouts, though I wouldn’t call oxtail stew simple. We ate, explored the surrounding trails & popular attractions like Vikingsholm at the Emerald Bay State Park. We even tried our hand at making a campfire, though it didn’t turn out well because our logs kept smoking too much, & I am severely allergic to any kind of smoke (eg. cigarettes, fire, cigars, marijuana, etc.).

 

Overall, we had such an amazing time at our modest little campsite. Jian had such a wonderful first-time experience that he wished we could have stayed at least one more day. He vowed that when we go camping again next year, we will definitely plan much earlier in advance & book more days at the campground. My only gripe about camping this year was that I got mosquito bites all over my arms despite practically drenching myself in extra strength bug repellent. Jian barely sprayed any bug repellent on himself, & he didn’t get any mosquito bites whatsoever. (So unfair!) Then again, a few bug bites won’t deter me from camping again. Next time I hope we can go camping with our friends. It turns out a lot of our friends have never been camping before, & they are eager for me to show them the ropes. How exciting! Until next time, cheers…& I shall leave you with some photos of our camping excursion down below.


Today’s song of the day:

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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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