What’s On My Phone Wednesdays: A Run, A Challenge, and an Egg in an Avocado

On the first day of 2014, I went on a run…
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I stocked up on fruits and vegetables in preparation for the For the Glow Resolution Challenge…
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And I tried out a new dish–baked egg in avocado.
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I have big goals for 2014, which I’ll be sharing soon. What are you hoping to accomplish this year?

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My Favorite Food Memoir of 2013

One of my goals for 2013 was to read at least one new book a month–which I’m happy to report I did! While taking a look back at what I read, I noted that my first three books of the year were all memoirs.

Wael Ghonim’s “Revolution 2.0″ charts how he utilized social media to play a major role in the 2011 Tahrir Square protest movement in Egypt. In “Breaking Up With God,” Sarah Sentilles discusses faith, theology, and her ordination process to become an Episcopal priest.

The third memoir was “Fresh Off the Boat” by Eddie Huang. It’s the story of Eddie’s life–how he grew up, and went from being a drug dealing thug to lawyer to streetwear mogul to Food Network cooking show competitor to restaurant owner. Whether he’s comparing Jonathan Swift to Ghost Face Killah or describing how neighborhood bullies invade his birthday party, Eddie’s voice is fresh and unique.

Fresh Off the Boat by Eddie Huang

Everything is tied together by food, hip hop, sports, and a frank discussion of what it means to be a man of color–particularly Asian American–in America. I appreciate that Eddie wrote and published his story now while he’s in his early 30s to give a contemporary context to the struggle for cultural identity.

This particular passage stuck with me for a long time:

“People says kids always tease and that it’s an innocent rite of passage, but it’s not. Every time an Edgar or Billie called me ‘chink’ or ‘Chinaman’ or ‘ching chong’ it took a piece of me. I didn’t want to talk about it, and kept it to myself. I clenched my teeth waiting to get even. Unlike others who let it eat them up and took it to their graves, I refused to be that Chinese kid walking everywhere with his head down. I wanted my dignity, my identity, and my pride back; I wanted them to know there were repercussions to the things they said. There were no free passes on my soul and everything they stole from me I decided I’d take back double.”

I was very interested in Eddie’s thoughts about how Filipinos fit into the Asian American mix. He observes that Filipinos “weren’t militant about maintaining their identity like the Chinese were.” And in college, Eddie describes preferring their company to his fellow Chinese Americans. “I actually got along with the Filipino cats because they were frequently left out when the model minority net got dropped in the water. People weren’t fishing for Pinoys and they got to build a lot of their own identity in America…a lot of Filipinos were free to do their own thing because there wasn’t so much institutional or communal pressure to be one type of Pinoy.”

That’s serious stuff, but it never gets too heavy because Eddie is one hilarious dude. And some of the darker parts of the book are balanced by Eddie’s thoughtful and evocative writing about food–his first experience with tuna fish, a discussion of Taiwanese cooking techniques, the beautiful simplicity of cavetelli and red sauce.

I was planning to read something else for my third book of 2013, but then I saw Eddie Huang speak at Town Hall in Seattle. (You can listen to his full conversation with Geo from Blue Scholars here.) He was so funny, I bought his book on the spot and had it signed. In the photo below, I’m throwing up a “W” for Eddie’s beloved Wu Tang Clan.

Eddie Huang at Town Hall in Seattle

 

 

 

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Pecha Kucha Presents: Food Is Power (And It’s Also Delicious!)

When I was in graduate school, I had a professor who limited our presentations to 8 PowerPoint slides and 10 minutes. It was a challenge to do this, but I appreciated how it made me more disciplined about what I included in my talk. And the images had to pack a punch.

It will be interesting to see what choices the presenters make at Pecha Kucha Night on December 5.

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Lessons Learned from NaBloPoMo 2013

Red and yellow and pink and green

It was Christmas 1980, and the Sears in my town had a huge window display featuring an elaborate train set, giant teddy bears, a wondrous assortment of dolls, and many other toys. In the center of this marvelous tableau was a little yellow typewriter.

I was only 5 and could barely read, but I wanted that typewriter with every fiber of my being. When I visited Santa, the only thing I asked for was the typewriter. And on Christmas morning, it was sitting under the tree. It was like something out of the movies. A dream realized. A wish granted.

When adults asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say engineer or doctor because that’s what my parents hoped, but I really wanted to be a writer. Continue reading

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What’s in the Box? Part 2

When I got home from work and opened the front door, the first thing I saw was a small package wrapped in festive paper at the bottom of our stairs.

The sender had written the hashtag #pnwswaps, on the mailing label, and I realized with delight that my swap box had arrived. Continue reading

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A Jar of Gratitude

Around this time last year, I was practically bedridden because of a major knee injury, our housing situation was uncertain, and I wasn’t sure where my career was going. I was depressed, anxious, and worst of all, I felt stuck.

During this period, I noticed a lot of people on Facebook posting about gratitude jars. It was a simple idea: every day, write down things that you’re thankful for on slips of paper and put them in a jar.

I don’t know why, but something about this interested me. Stirred out of my torpor, I got a really big jar, and I committed to writing down three good things that happened each day. I would make it my New Year’s resolution and start January 1.

Shortly after I started this practice, an amazing thing happened. I was able to walk normally—without crutches or a cane. It wasn’t a miracle and largely due to my amazing physical therapist. However, once I started to focus on the positive aspects of my life, other big things started to happen. I got an amazing job offer. I went on an unexpected fabulous trip to Costa Rica. I started cooking again.

I have faithfully put three good things every day in my gratitude jar, and by the end of the year, I will have over 1,000 things that I’m grateful for in my jar.

On New Year’s Eve, I plan to literally count all of my blessings and read all of the good things that happened in the past year. Then I’ll get a new jar ready for 2014.

Today I’m living with my family in a new house, I have a great job, and I’m starting to run again.

I am grateful that I have much to eat and much to love.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Gratitude jar

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What’s On My Phone Wednesdays: Okonomiyaki, Eggs Benedict, and Ninjabread

The past week was full of firsts for me.

I made my first visit to Gastropod, the tiny restaurant inside the Epic Ales tasting room. Gastropod has an inventive menu with dishes like Hawaiian pizza okonomiyaki with carrot, cabbage, pineapple, lardons, and ketchup kewpie. Continue reading

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