Fake Smile?: Nah, Just a Happy Dance

Fake Smile?: Nah, Just a Happy Dance

I admit that I can be an ass sometimes.  I just can’t pretend to be happy for him or her when I don’t mean it (except, at business occasions, I can pretend no problem.  I am getting paid for that after all).

“Oh, you look fabulous!”

“I am happy for you!”

“How exciting!”

“It’s wonderful to see you!”

“Your baby is so cute! (babies scare the crap out of me.  And they look like monkeys most of the time except for Mira) Too many exclamation points, really.  When I have to say these things that I don’t mean, I get tense and have to think really carefully before saying it.  Most of the time, those words come out fake-ish.  However, when I genuinely mean it, my words do not come out right away.  My body starts doing some weird moves and I start stomping around with my ear-to-ear smile.  Or when situations don’t allow for me to do this weird stuff, I usually do that in my head.

I don’t react too well when I sense that people are trying to fish for compliments.  I do the opposite, I just don’t react as those people want me to.  I could look quite cold.  So, I got curious as to how many people I am doing my weird happy dance for gladly this morning.  Except for my family, I have 10.  I am happy to know that I can do my dance for these 10 people.

I can be an ass sometimes, but at least I am a happy-ass when doing my dance for them.

Powerful Message without Being Loud: All the Way from Tokyo

Powerful Message without Being Loud:  All the Way from Tokyo

Since the middle of January, our company has been in an odd place and I have been feeling unsettled.  It’s quite tiring, both physically and mentally (maybe more so mentally). By the time I come home every night, all I can think about is my bed.  Warm blanket and comfortable pillow, my dog and a book.  Recently, I notice I barely can read more than 5 pages because I fall asleep so fast.  Archie has to take my glasses and turn the light off for me almost every night.

Last night I came home dog-tired after learning my dear friend and co-worker was going to be released from his team soon.  Like any other corporation, layoffs are happening.  I work for a large corporation and all they do is cut people off every now and then so they can increase their stock price, which makes investors happy. I get how it works.  At the human level however, I can’t agree with how they handled it.  It is just inhumane.  Yes, I understand this needs to happen but he is beyond my co-worker, he is my friend.

I was emotionally drained but I made it home.  Then I saw this box sitting on my dining table.  It was a package from my friend who lives in Japan.  She and I have known each other for about 30 years.  We haven’t been able to see each other at all for this last 15 years or so but we connected through Instagram (or Facebook, can’t remember…either way it was one of these social media stuff).  She is positive, kind, supportive and beautiful.  My favorite characteristic of her is her thoughtfulness.  This package is full of her thoughtfulness.  She remembered what I mentioned long time ago and she took time to go get them and send them to me.  She is a mother of two and I know she does not have lots of time on her hand but she did it for me anyways.

As soon as I open the box, I was able to feel that.  I felt like the package arrived just in time to tell me not to get discouraged by the distracting things happening around me.  It felt like as if she was telling me “Cheer up.  It’s going to be OK” with a lovely smile on her face.  I choked up.  I wanted to share this with my friend who would have to leave the team soon so he could hear her simple yet strong message.

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So, today I shared this wonderfully and lusciously prepared short bread (no dairy and with simple ingredients) which my friend in Tokyo sent to me with my dear co-worker.  I do hope he got her message.  I hope at least he got to enjoy the moment he bit into the shortbread and brought a smile to him.  Even one second.

She probably does not have any idea what’s going on in Seattle but I can tell you, my friend, you brought us something very special and hopeful.  I will never forget that.

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Buddies: Anthony Bourdain and I

Buddies:  Anthony Bourdain and I

I feel like Anthony Bourdain and I know each other. At personal level.  After watching his shows millions of times, when he says, “this is delicious,” I can actually tell if he means it or not.  I actually understand how happy he is when he is slurping his noodle bowl at this tiny street vender in Saigon.  I do because I love slurping noodles and I can taste them when I watch his show.  He and I should start traveling all over the world together to eat, eat and eat, especially Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia…beautiful Southeast Asia.

Ba Bar.  http://babarseattle.com/  This is a Vietnamese restaurant with a French influenced bakery shop.  This place is not your regular  joint so you can’t have 6-dollar pho here.  But they use happy cows and do not use any MSG.  Store design and interior are very well thought out.  It almost looks like the club or bar where hipsters go to inside.  Wait staffs are actually pretty hip as well.  Don’t get fooled by it however.  They serve fragrant, satisfying and deeply comforting pho so you don’t want to leave any drop in your bowl after eating it.  They are legit.  Again, this bowl costs you 4 more dollars than regular pho, but you will not regret paying the 4 dollars extra.

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I am day dreaming about Anthony Bourdain coming to Seattle and me taking him to Ba Bar to slurp Pho Bo Tai Nam together.  I am certain that I can get his genuine “oh, this is delicious!” out of him.

Do You Have Your Marching Band in Manhattan?

Do You Have Your Marching Band in Manhattan?

Every time I hear this song, my throat tightens up as if I’m starting to cry but I always managed to stop right before that.  This is a song I want to listen to inside of my car when it is raining outside, while hearing raindrops continuously hit the roof of the car.  I sometimes actually stop my car to listen to the entire song then wait to see if my sorrow drips into my heart through a pinhole.

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I have countless number of songs that are dear to my heart, but this is a special song and a favorite for the last 10 years.  It is bitter sweet.  This is a song that you want to listen to when you are remembering someone who is out of your life but you still wish that person, whether  your grandma, your long lost friend, your English literature professor, a crush, whoever that may be, is still part of your life.  And you day-dream about the time when you and that person happen to see each other at your favorite coffee shop, but it feels really strange so you guys only exchange an awkward smile.  Then, you know that person is no longer a part of your life and you know that he/she knows that too.

You carry on your life but for one small moment, you think about that person.  Maybe while selecting an Etta James vinyl record at this vintage record shop.  Maybe when you are looking at this huge painting that you have no idea what this is all about.  Or maybe at red light.  Maybe when you are spreading almost expired cream cheese on a bagel.  Maybe when you are at the zoo with your 5-year old niece looking at penguins on one Sunday during winter.  Maybe when you can’t sleep and it is 2am and you are watching “Roman Holiday” by yourself but not hating the fact that you are alone.  Or during the time you found comfort in the sound of a faucet leaking slowly, and finally you can let your tears run down your face.

Mine is “Marching band in Manhattan” by Death Cab for Cutie.  How about yours?

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Spring Came Early This Year: Daffodils and Kathy

Spring Came Early This Year: Daffodils and Kathy

Spring has come this morning.

Working in a corporate environment is challenging.  You enjoy working with intelligent, knowledgeable, dedicated, passionate and friendly co-workers and you become friends with some of them.  It is a challenging time for all of us at work.  I am about to lose someone who is very close to me and who is nothing but helpful,  always willing to assist me and always there as a good friend.  I won’t be able to work with him any more in the same group.  We get a cup of coffee together every morning, joke around a lot like brother and sisters.  I have been quite confused, sad and emotional since I found out about the news.

Kathy came by this morning with a hint of spring.  She was holding a bouquet of daffodils (so delightful and charming!) and said to me that I looked quite down for a last few days so she bought something to cheer me up.  What a thoughtful person she is.  If the world was full of these people, I guarantee it would be a better place.

Like Dalai Lama said, “The planet does not need more successful people.  The planet desperately need s more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds”  Kathy, you are truly one of them.

I decided today is the 1st day of spring this year because of the daffodils I received this morning.  It has been raining 3 days straight in Seattle now but who cares.  Let’s celebrate the arrival of spring together.

Happy Spring!

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Korean or Hawaiian: it’s BOTH

Korean or Hawaiian: it’s BOTH

What came to my mind was “divine.”  I mean, conjoining of Korean best invention, kimchi and rice whoever invented (I am forever thankful).

I barely take a lunch break.  I usually power through the day without breaking.  Today, one of my great friends at work, Kathy, made me go outside to take 1 hour break with her.  What a splendid day.  Sunny and air crisp but not too cold.  We do have 2 or 3 food trucks for lunch hour every day, we are lucky that way.   When we were outside, I saw a long line for this particular truck, “Marination.”  They also have such a jubilant menu, such as Kimchi quesadilla, Kalua Pork or SPAM sliders, Hawaiian Mac Salad, SPAM musubi and so forth.  Just a mixture of…well, many regions.

http://www.marinationmobile.com/

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(you can see beautiful city of Seattle in back ground)

I was hesitant to be in that line but Kathy said “no, we don’t have to be in line because I made our order using Marination app.”  This food truck is so popular and the “order-ahead” app was in such high demand.  Now Marination has a restaurant by Puget Sound, called Alki Beach in my neighborhood, West Seattle.

I had Kimchi fried rice for lunch, which I have to say it was an excellent choice.

Now I have my Thursday go-to place .  Thank you Kathy for pulling me out of my chair AND ordering my food so I eat on time.

Also, thank you, Marination, you guys rock.

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What is Hama Hama?: PNW Treasure

What is Hama Hama?: PNW Treasure

2-year residency in Atlanta, Georgia was quite tough for me.  It was challenging to find fresh and organic produce (maybe I was not looking hard enough?) and seafood!  Oh seafood…you have no idea how much I missed the fish market in Seattle when I was in ATL.  They are available there of course, but there is no denying that northern ocean water produces finer seafood, especially shellfish.

This small vendor at the farmers market that I mentioned a couple times before in my blog offers seasonal shellfish.  This past Saturday, they had 2 kinds of clams (one of them is called Happy Clam!) and a variety of oysters.  The name of the vendor is “Hama Hama Oysters and they grow Hama Hama oysters at their farm.  Isn’t that such a fun sound, Hama Hama?  I just want to repeat saying that.

http://hamahamaoysters.com/

I purchased one jar packed with 7 x medium size Hama Hama from granddaughter of the founder of this oyster farm in Lilliwaup, Washington near Olympic National Forrest.  It was shucked and packed that morning and I was there 9:30 in the morning, which tells me the oysters are incredibly fresh.  I didn’t want to add too many condiments because I wanted to taste the intense sea water and umami-packed sweet flavors spreading through my mouth (I was already salivating when purchasing them).

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Straight up Hama Hama Oysters without lot of seasonings

1)      Rinse gently

2)      Place them in cast iron pot

3)      Drizzle olive oil and add a bit of sea salt and splash or dry white wine

4)      Put the lid on and cook about 5 min (no need to touch, just let your pot do its job)

5)      Add little bit of fresh lemon

6)      Yay!

Accompaniment was lightly steamed leek with butter and salt.

Is your mouth watering yet?

Hama Hama.  This is your magic word of winter (or all year around).  Hama Hama, Hama Hama….

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