How I do #AsianSquatBombs

By request, I made a 60 second video showing how I do the #AsianSquatBombs.  Use a tripod or not; just make sure the selfie cam sees you.  After that it’s a matter of using the auto-timer.

Make sure your heels stay flat on the ground.  I think it’s considered more terrifying if you can keep your feet and knees together.  It’s considerably easier to do in shoes, especially if the heels rise at all.  It’s more challenging (for me at least) to go barefoot.

When you post your own, please use the hashtag #AsianSquatBombs (plural) and the more general #asiansquat.

I know what I did last summer

It’s almost been a couple of months since my last post.  Since Round 2 of Seattle, I spent more time in Vegas and then came back to the desert to get ready for the school year.  I spent a long weekend with my friends in the wine country near Tecate, Baja California, México.

Now I’m back at school, the first week is over, and I’m not behind yet!  Tomorrow is Saturday; the cable guy comes tomorrow at 10am, after that I was thinking of driving toward LA or San Diego.

Here are some things that I’ve been thinking about:

  • Cultural blind spots
  • Cultural appropriation of “ethnic” cuisines
  • Being an author
  • Being a podcaster again
  • Buying a condo
  • Paying off my credit card
  • Where to go next summer.

Can’t swing a cat; Seattle 2017, Round 2

Back during the school year when I was homesick and couldn’t wait to come to Seattle during my summer break, I imagined that I would cherish every moment that I’m in Seattle; that I’d linger on the details, notice everything, take it all in.

It hasn’t been like that. I lingered on the details for about ten minutes, but then slipped back into normal mode, like a fish slipping back into the ocean.  Rather than feeling the special glow of Seattle, I feel the reality of my desert exile fading like a dream. Now that I’m here, I have to remind myself that I actually live and work in California, and that I should take advantage of my time here.

I was already here for one cold week earlier this summer, before seven days in Kaua’i. Now I’m back in Seattle for ten days, renting out my friend’s house, ostensibly on a writer’s retreat.  It’s day four of those ten days, and I haven’t gotten much writing done at all.

I keep running into people when I’m out.  My first day back, I ran into M from the LA Karaoke League getting off the train; we ended up chatting at Espresso Vivace.  There was Tall R outside the Columbia City Theater. The next day a former student check my groceries at Uwajimaya. Then I saw a Cousin R at the drug store.  I can’t swing a cat around here! I had to reinstate my rule of #selfiesfirst, lest we forget.

The other day I went to dinner with BM and JF at Meet the Moon, because Sherman Alexie had talked about it.  Then yesterday I went on a Western Washington adventure with H and K; Ocean Shores, Copalis Beach, Lytle Seafoods in Hoquiam, Jay’s Farmstand in Aberdeen. We were even in Downtown Olympia for a minute; we peed at the Governors Hotel. We also took a picture in front of the house we grew up in on Tumwater Hill.

At Lytle Seafoods, my sister and I bought a dozen oysters in a plastic bag; we sat at a picnic table next to the building (with a view of the stream and Gray’s Harbor, next to their oyster boat) and cracked those oysters with the oyster knives my sister carries with her. The whole day was fun but cracking oysters was the highlight.

 

 

Seven Days on Kaua’i; the Rundown

My memories of this trip are fuzzy already. I waited too long to blog this.  It’s probably not 100% accurate.  Just the rundown.

Day Zero:  Arrival 
My plane got it at 10pm; around 10:45 I finally got my rental car; a Jeep Wrangler. Rendez-vous’ed with my housemates,  hoa hale at Times Market and then drove out to the hale in Princeville.

Day One
Went to the Big Save early in Hanalei. Nā hoa hale made some baked oatmeal. Went to the beach at Hanalei Bay for hours. Drove into Kapa’a to the farmers’ market.  Nā hoa hale didn’t know any of the veggies there, but I flirted with the Ilocana gardeners and bought sayote greens, sigarilyas, canola greens, strawberry bananas, and a lukban. Started black beans in the slow cooker.

Day Two
I got up early and went to Waipā Foundation’s Poi Day, which is the one thing I had planned and researched beforehand. People looked at me like I was crazy for wanting to wake up early during my vacation and go to a farm to make poi to give away, but it was one of the highlights of the trip. Met Steve, Kahiau, Uncle Charlie, and a German lady who was studying lomi and introduced herself as Mauli ola.

I spent the rest of the afternoon with nā hoa hale‘s B Squad on Hanalei Bay Beach. M jumped off the pier.  A Squad and went to a hula lesson. At some point A Squad went shopping in Līhu’e and later met B Squad on Kē’alia Beach.

Then, we all drove to Līhu’e; I dropped off Squad A at a Jackson Galaxy event and then met Squad B at Kalapaki Beach.  The local kids were playing, expertly, in the most chaotic part of the beach. At one point they all came out and started re-engineering the lagoon to drain back into the ocean. First they created some fun rapids, then a standing wave which some of them were able to stand up on using a boogie board. It was way too deep and rough to cross, which was bad for folks who wanted to get back to their cars, and one older drunk lady who carrying a magnum wine bottle who just wanted to get back across.

Squad A thoroughly enjoyed Jackson Galaxy… thoroughly, and when we picked them up, the show hadn’t finished yet. However we in a hurry to get to Mark’s Place in time to get dinner before closing.

Day Three:
A Squad went on a surf lesson with Hanalei Mitch, and I semi regret not joining them. Instead, B Squad had a quiet morning at the hale.

Around midday, we all drove out to Kē’ē Beach, parked the cars, and started the 2 mile hike out to Hanakāpī’ai Beach, which was beautiful.  The hike was challenging for me due to slippery rocks and steep steps, but I tried to take easy steps to guard my knees and ankles. I realized I have way more endurance than I did a year ago, when I first started crossfit and my nutrition program. I was surprised to feel my right hip socket. I thought my quads would be sore, but it was calves and shins and that were stiff the next day.

We spent some time at Kē’ē Beach before driving back into Hanalei town that night, Chicken in a Barrel. I considered making an exception to my nutrition program to eat a piece of chicken, but in the end I skipped it, so you know I’m a real pescatarian now.  I tried to prepare nā hoa hale for how good that place was, but they were still surprised. The chicken is so juicy and smokey that it tastes liked a smoked sausage, except it’s a big piece of chicken.

Day Four:
Squad A went to watch a keiki surfing competition on Kalapaki Beach. Meanwhile, Squad B slept in; quiet morning in the hale.  Squad C went on a scouting mission to discover Anahola and Kīlauea, which was awesome.  We picked up Squad B back at the hale, and then met up at with Squad A at Kamokila Hawaiian Village for a cultural show.

Then we all went into downtown Kapa’a town; bought some poke and lunch plates at Pono Market and ate them under a kukui tree at the end of Kukui street in Waipouli Park.

Squad BC drove through the tree tunnel and spent a little time in Kōloa town.

We all met up again at the Spouting Horn, and then checked out Po’ipū Beach, but didn’t stay. We ended up going to Moloa’a Beach and then dinner in downtown Kapa’a town at the Local Kauai.  We totally failed to attend the Kīlauea night market.

Day Five
This day was supposed to be a kayaking day, but we got to Kamokila too late; the last boat went out at 2pm.  We drove to Wailua river, and they said no commercial activity on the river on Sunday. So then we drove to Nawiliwili Bay south of Līhu’e but that kayak rental was closed as well.  We had lunch at Brick Oven Pizza in Wailua and discovered Moloa’a Beach, after failing miserably to find Papa’a Beach.

Day Six 
All seven of us nā hoa hale piled into our cars to drive to Kauai’s westside.  Our first stop was Kauai Coffee. My favorite coffee’s were Polihale Sunset and Big Braddah’s, but we left without buying whole beans since we couldn’t find any beans roasted inside the two-week freshness window.  We continued on through Hanapepe and into Waimea; I bought poke at the Ishihara Market, and we continued onto the Waimea Canyon.

We looked at the Waimea Canyon; it was beautiful.  Then we drove back to Waimea and had lunch; Squad A went to Island Taco, where they made their own tortillas, and Squad B went to Shrimp Station.

After lunch, Squad B walked over to Red Dirt, and on the way back we saw that an abandoned building was going up in flames, next to Umi’s Store. Umi was in the street, worried about his own building, and another man told me that hippies lived in that building, and said the word “meth.” As soon as we heard the word “meth,” we knew it was time to leave. Umi complained that the fire department was only two blocks away but still hadn’t arrived. Just then a haole dude charged in and started walking toward the fire; I wanted to tell him that we had heard the word “meth” but he wasn’t interested it us. In the end, we left and Umi went to move his truck and nobody warned the haole dude.

After that, we went back to Island Taco, where the lady talked us out of trying to go to Polihale State Park (sugarcane dirt road!), and advised us to try to try the beach at Kehaka across from St. Theresa’s church.  We were there for a shore time and then drove up to Anahola.  Dinner was back at Hanalei Chicken in a Barrel.

Day Seven
We got up early and drove to the trail head for Queen’s Bath in our neighborhood.  We spent a little time down there; I wasn’t that interested in the swimming hole, but I was enthralled by all the turtles.  Later we had a beach BBQ at Anahola Beach Park, and Aunty Sarah shared her fried oama fish with us, as well as some local fish she had daing’ed. I actually spent some time in the water, boogie boarding and swimming, and I made some ahi tuna en papillote.

Some things I want to remember: 

  • Next time, book the hale early.
  • We were trying to be close to the beach and destinations, but next time we might try to be close to local supermarkets and brown people.
  • Waimea is a quiet, walkable town.
  • Anahola was my favorite beach for swimming, surf, picnicking, parking, and brown people.  The only tough part was the dirt driveway.
  • Poi Day at the Waipā foundation is something I would do every week if I lived on Kauai.

 

Falling on my head like a memory

I woke up this morning in Seattle. It’s Thursday morning and raining on the top of Queen Anne.  I’m sitting in Café Diablo with my sister, who is working.  I have a hair cut in a few minutes. It’s raining.


Yesterday I left the Central Library and walked around the corner to meet my sister. We did a spontaneous #AsianSquatBomb from across the street.

 

Later we went to Go Poke in the ID; I had a poke salad bowl and my sister had a poke maki burrito, a “pokerrito.” The poke is actually poke (marinated before you get there) but they serve it in the bowl over rice, salad or rolled up with nori in a maki. It’s not the assembly-line, mixed to order Chipokle that’s sprouting up all over Southern California. It’s kind of like Hawaii, in that it’s actually poke, and it’s kind of like California in that they want to put edamame in it. None of the poke at Go Poke is mixed with ocean salad, thank goodness, because that is some bullshit.

Later, I dropped off my sister at her meeting with the Teamsters and went to the big and tall store to buy jeans. Here’s the deal; it’s 110ºF where I work in California right now, and when I was packing my clothes to come up to Seattle they told me I might need long pants but I definitely didn’t need anything as heavy as jeans. That, my friends, is a mess; it’s 57ºF and rainy here, and while I don’t mind the cold and the rain, I do need jeans for this.

The lady there at the big and tall store was throwing clothes at me to try on; she picked out seven pairs of pants for me to try, plus sweatshirts, aloha shirts, dress shirts… in the end I left with one pair of jeans, because a) one pair of jeans was my objective in the first place and b) everything else there was too big for me.  You guys, I’m graduating from the big and tall store; which is a mess, because I hate shopping at other places, but there we are.

Afterward, I went to pick my sister up at the Teamsters, and there was a vaquero in the parking lot practicing his lazo!  Loop loop loop, around the head, over the head, behind the head, all the while talking lackadaisically to someone on the phone through his earbud. I didn’t ask to take a picture.

Later, as we were pulling out to leave, I noticed that the Teamsters Local 174 has a painted semi-truck, that says “Teamsters” in huge letters on the container:

  • T is the Space Needle,
  • E is the Monorail,
  • A is the Kerry Park view of the cLink,
  • M is the market sign,
  • S is a ferry,
  • T is a HUGE ORCA JUMPING OUT OF THE WATER,
  • E is the old Seattle’s Best neon coffee mug, the
  • R is the Kerry Park view of the Key with the mountain in the background,
  • S is Coleman Dock

Of course I had to take a selfie with it, and then there were the obligatory #AsianSquatBombs; some members of 174 were TOTALLY INTO #AsianSquatBombs and joined us.

 

Today I got my hair trimmed in the ID and had lunch at Aladdin’s Gyro-cery, which I’ve been going to for 27 years and has always been really good. I remember coming home from NYC and eating a gyro there, and just being relieved to be home to soft pita, rotisserie-crisped gyros, and what I consider to be appropriate salt levels.  Now that I’m a vegetarian I ordered the falafel; it was more lemony than I expected; the best was the chunky baba ganoush.

New haircut

As I drove on Campus Parkway to Wallingford I remembered a conversation I had in 1996 about getting from the U-district to Gasworks:

Me: So you just go down Roosevelt and you take the Secret Right…

甲 (interrupting): I HATE THE SECRET RIGHT BECAUSE IT’S LIKE, OOH, I’M A SECRET…

乙 (interrupting): Ooh, not me, I LOVE the Secret Right because it’s like, OOH I’M A SECRET…

I don’t remember the identities of 甲 and 乙 are anymore, I just remember the story, that their reasons for loving and hating the same Secret Right were the exact same words with different intonation.

Finally, it’s raining here. Not hard rain at all, but honest-to-God Seattle rain. It is not “tearing me apart like a new emotion.” I don’t mind it at all; in fact I feel just as at home in my new jeans and a hoody in this rain than this snail that crossed my path this morning.

 

I love Summer Break

Yesterday I met my friends Delridge D and Aloha C and his family in Pike Place Market. I got there a little early so I could walk around, which was a mistake because I wanted to eat everything I saw.  I met my friends where you always meet people at the Market  and then had lunch at the Athenian. By the way, the peaches are delicious this week and the green garlic shoots are huge.

After lunch we walked a little through the Market and showed the kids Victor Steinbruck Park, Piroshky Piroshky, the Beecher’s Cheese factory, the Gum Wall.

Later, there was little drive up to Kerry Park where Aloha C and I talked about firehouse recipes and strong feet. It was really good to see them. Aloha C said something amazing that I wanted to blog about, but I forgot. I walked home to my sister’s apartment from there.

Later my sister, Tico K, and I went to Kirkland to see Cowsin L and K’s month-old son. Along the way we stopped at Dakshin South Indian Bistro and I relapsed into my alarming addiction for South Indian vegetarian curries and dosas. It’s a problem. Later I got to hug my new nephew, who before I know it will be able to hold up his own head, speak English fluently, and marvel at how old I am.


Today I got up early and had breakfast at the 5 Spot; two eggs and “tempeh bacon.” Later I rode into Belltown with my sister on her way to work, and had her drop me off at Bedlam. I thought that from there, I would meet my friend 딤씨 at Tofully at noon.  At about 20 minutes to noon, I realized that Tofully was way down under the Chinatown Gate in the ID, so I hoofed it down to the bus tunnel and ran to a train, just as the door closed in my face and the train pulled away.

I did a set of air squats wating for the next train and stretched my hamstrings.  I don’t feel great about doing good mornings in the bus tunnel, it looks less like exercise than air squats.

A man passed me on the street, and as he passed I said hello; he greeted me at the same time and shook my hand. He said, I have a riddle for you, what’s the best vitamin for a friendship?

What’s the best vitamin for friendship?

I answered “Vitamin A” but I said “Vitamin Ehhhh”

He said, What the best vitamin for friendship?  B1 (Be one).

He told me second riddle, which I have disgracefully forgotten, but it was just as good.  Later he said, “I saw your face and I thought you looked a little down, just wanted to get a smile out of you.”

I smiled and thanked him and remembered what Memphis D told me back in Ann Arbor 20 years ago, that people of color should greet each other. That’s one of my favorite customs now.


I had a quick lunch with 딤씨 and ate a lot of tofu and it was magically delicious. 딤씨 and I talked about the Diversity Committee (and how it’s a trap), Wonder Woman, commutes, hard-headed family members, everything.

Later, walking up 4th Avenue, a man came out of the YMCA and said hello as he came around the corner, I managed to mumble a hello back, and I immediately noticed that it was the same man’s picture on the sandwich board.  I turned around and wanted to yell, hey that’s you on the sandwich board! But decided that was a weird thing to yell. He had just put on his sunglasses anyway.

I walked passed all the cool places today; Chinatown Gate in the ID, King Street Station, Occidental Park, the Pioneer Square Pergola, Waterfall Park. I’m currently hanging out in the reading room of the Central Library.

Not sure what’s next.  I have an Orca Card in my pocket, a belly full of tofu, and not much else to do. I love summer break.

 

 

I used to live here.

It’s summer break and I’m back in Seattle.  It’s cold here; 53º F (not even 12ºC) and drizzly.  I asked my social network if it’s cold here; they said, “no.”  I asked if I have to bring long pants, they said “no denim.”  Both of those answers are correct Pacific Northwest answers, but they are dead wrong to someone who’s been living in southern California for the last two years.  It’s cold.

I’m not complaining, though; I just miss having a functional reason to wear jeans.

I found myself orchestrating a lunch reunion today with a local friend and some friends visiting from out of town. And I don’t even live here anymore! Old habits die hard, I guess.

Speaking of old habits, here’s where I’ve been eating:

  • Kozue. There was a huge line at Musashi’s and another huge line at Issian. I had long considered Kozue to be a the sad alternative; too hungry to go somewhere else. It surprised me that it was really good. Sushi culture is different in California, and I am sure I carried some of that baggage with me. I was pleasantly surprised that my miso wasn’t served with a ramen spoon, and that none of our nigiri’s were duplicates, and that the maki we ordered weren’t dressed with a squirt bottle.  Also, the fish was delicious.
  • El camión. I got a fish taco, a shrimp taco, and split a veggie tamal.  The tamal is spectacular; Salvadoran style brick of pudding-like masa wrapped in banana leaf.
  • Ivar’s Fish Bar. I have exposimatated in the past on fish and chips in Seattle. I think I eat more fish and chips than most people I know. Seattlites often look at Ivar’s Fish Bar as the most obvious, saddest excuse for fish and chips in Seattle.  Here’s what I know:  it’s Alaskan True Cod, it’s cooked to perfection by people who know when fried fish is done by eyeballing it (rather than looking at egg timers like Spud) so the fish isn’t overcooked (like at Spud). They give me a slice of lemon when I ask for it, and the white chowder tastes like heavy cream. There is an amazing view. That’s what I know.
  • Finally, my sister’s adobong pusit.  My sister H knows more about adobong pusit that I do, and her recipe is the neutronbomb.  She says it’s basically a calamares en su tinta or chipirones en su tinta recipe, only filipino adobo style; which means there’s a clear flavor of apple cider vinegar cutting through the richness of squid ink. At one point she was reducing tomatoes so I don’t even know; alls I know is that it was rich and vinegary and squiddy all at once.  We ate it with diced tomatoes and rice and did an reminisced about Barcelona E’s reluctant ambivalence about eating squid, which I shall here reducing to an imperfect haiku:

Barcelona E’s Regretful Ambivalence toward eating Squid, a Haiku:

Gender deception
Indicates theory of self!
Yet, so delicious!

 Also, my sister made tea leaf eggs. I just ate two, they are delicious. 

Quality of Life

Right now:  sitting in Caffè Fiore at the top of Queen Anne.  I walked here, and it felt good and the neighborhood is awesome. I ordered an americano and a mini veggie quiche and paid with my phone, and tipped with cash. The americano was kick ass.  The quiche was delicious. Locals and tourists are rolling in with bed head. They are paying Stan Getz over the speakers. I have nothing to grade. The sun just broke through the clouds. Nobody is talking too loud.

A few years ago my friend Barcelona E was here to visit.  I had taken her to Columbia City Bakery, which was my neighborhood bakery at the time. Barcelona E was in the middle of picking up her croissant when she asked me the question, “JP, what is so special about Seattle?”

Back when I was in Michigan I used to my mouth about how Seattle was a better place, something which I still believe. I was fully aware that people found it obnoxious, but I just had a hard time believing that anyone would choose to live in other places. Honestly, I tried to be kind about it.

Anyway, Barcelona E was here, in Seattle with me, in my neighborhood bakery, about to take a bite of her croissant, asking me the question that probably had occured to her twenty years prior, before my diabetes diagnosis, before I spoke Mandarin, before her daughters were born, before she spoke German.

“JP, what is so special about Seattle?”

Before I could answer, she took a bite of her croissant, and put it back down on her plate, looking at it, and saying casually, “Oh, quality of life.  I understand now. ”

I didn’t have to explain anything to her with words. Not that I could, I was laughing pretty hard. Sometimes being friends with people from Spain is like living in a movie script.

Later on, Barcelona E scolded me for allowing her to put sugar in her coffee, she told me if she had known the coffee would be high quality, she wouldn’t have put sugar in it, and it was my fault. You gotta give people a heads up.

Anyway, back in the present:

  •  A dude just walked in and started talking scones with the barista, in a way that you know the man is obsessed with scone theory. People in this town go on obsessive inward journeys to make a perfect product. It seems unhealthy when you meet them, but then you taste their beer/coffee/bagel/liquor/croissant.
  • A dude sitting across from me is talking about his trip to China. He’s saying he can no longer 請 his family members (he can’t treat them to a meal) because they could all pay with their phones (they scan a QR code) where as he carried cash, like a chump. He’s also telling tales about how there are (rideshare?) bikes in China you lock with your phone, so you don’t need to chain them up to a post anymore, there are just bikes everywhere. I cannot imagine overhearing a conversation about the technological advances in Chinese society at the cafés I go to in California.

I don’t really live here anymore, and at the moment there’s not really a job for me here.  But it’s nice to be from here, and nice to be back.

A post shared by Jp Villanueva (@jpv206) on Jun 11, 2017 at 8:28am PDT

 

Asian Squat Bombs

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A while ago my sister and I decided to start taking #AsianSquatBombs because it cracks us up.  Here are 24 photos, mostly of me. Some are of my sister and parents, and two are with my coworker MY.

Shall we remember this day?

It’s Thursday, June 8th, 2017, a little before 9am.  I’m sitting in my mama’s freshly-watered backyard garden. There is a pair of small birds flirting with each other, carving the desert air as they dash  from plant to plant, winding through the tree blossoms; white, pink, and red.

It’s my first Wednesday of summer break. As soon as I put my grade book to bed the other day I packed up my suitcases and drove across the desert to my folk’s place in the north of Las Vegas. So far, for the last few days, it’s been an alarming routine of eating, napping, and checking my phone. Occasionally I drive my mama to the grocery store or to the veterinarian; practice my asian squat and my standing forward fold.  At one point I created a quest to buy a new aloha shirt.

Former FBI director James Comey is currently testifying before a Senate committee; I watched a little of it until I got bored.  I hope it leads to the early demise of the DJT presidency, and the oligarchy that has taken over the Republic. People have taken off work to watch this testimony, eagerly gotten up early on the West Coast, and made this an event, complete with the hashtag #ComeyDay, like it’s a holiday.  If Comey’s testimony does bring down the president, today will be a day to remember in American history.

This summer break, besides Las Vegas, I’ll spend time in Seattle and Kauai, and probably LA.  I hope I start blogging more.  I’ve been thinking about blogging about Racial Imposter Syndrome, Gringo Pronunciation Enforcement, and weapons-grade ratatouille. My hope is that this summer I’ll blog, stick to my nutrition program, write my book “Memoirs of Becoming Multilingual,” get a book deal, and become the wealthy and culturally influential language teacher I aspire to be.

Or or or, alternatively I could win the Powerball; that would be awesome too.  It would certainly make today a day to remember.