Blood sugar, Courage, and ukulele shopping

It’s been a big week with friends in town, the company’s annual luncheon, the attacks in Paris on Friday, and then Disneyland and ukulele shopping. 

Thursday’s big company luncheon was fun but I had a little bit of a blood sugar episode; my coworker rescued me with a banana from her purse, which saved my life.  Later they joked I had robbed the banana from her baby!  The next day I came to work with two bananas for her.  The company’s CEO gave a pretty inspirational presentation about the company’s achievements, and then announced the company was treating us all to the Star Wars premiere at a famous theater in Hollywood.  His announcement was accompanied by some actors in Star Wars costumes, so we all got a chance to take pictures.  

That night, my new toaster arrived, and I was so excited I took a selife.  

Friday was awful.  By the time I found out about the attacks, the swat teams were just entering the Bataclan.  I spent a lot of time reading the #porteouverte hashtag, which was inspiring until it got junked up by people promoting it rather than using it.  The next day was a bunch of tri-color facebook flag overlays and sanctimonious grief-shaming.  

As much as I love and cherish my French friends, and appreciate their life and cultue, I do feel like French society has failed for decades to integrate their Musilim population.  That’s a journey they have to make on their own, and I can only watch hopefully.   I just dread that the reaction of the French populace will be one of nationalism and retaliation.  That’s a dread I have.  My hope it is that they will respond with liberté; fraternité; et égalité in the face of this violence, rather than a bullhorn rally over the rubble.  Courage, mes frères, soyons courageux.  

The best part of this week was yesterday, when I met with K and K and the kids in Disneyland.  The last time I was in Disneyland, I was in high school.  I watched Captain Eo and that’s all I remember.  

Yesterday I showed up and we went on Auto-topia.  I rode in a car with Big E, and we kept stopping traffic for fun.  Later we happened to be walking past Hyperspace Mountain, which is set to open tomorrow.  Big E noticed that people were moving through, so we went to peek, and TOTALLY GOT LET IN for a soft opening run.  It was awesome!  Except for the roller coster part, which I hate, but the rest of it was awesome.  Big E and I were fist-bumping about it for the rest of the day.  

Afterward K and I got our hands stamped and bolted to go ukulele shopping.  At one shop, there was a nice ukulele with an ugly solid-wood front, and the store owner tried to tell us that was a good thing.  I had to eat some rescue macadamia nuts in the parking lot.  

Next we went to Little Tokyo and saw a couple of instruments that were way out of our price range but were SWEET AS.  We left empty handed and K was filled with regret.  Then we went and had horribly horribly shitty bentos in Little Tokyo; the mahi mahi was FISHY!  And I was filled with regret.  

We made it back to K’s hotel in Aneheim in time for pool party.  After that we went back into the Disney complex and shopped around until our table came free at the m.f. Rainforest Cafe.  I had to have a rescue hot dog during the two hour wait, but I definitely spoke Spanish and got a discount.  Later I was wondering why I was having such trouble controlling my blood sugar, and then my activity band started vibrating and told me that I had tripled my step goal!  No wonder.  

After dinner we took the kids back into the park and watched the fireworks/son et lumière show at Cinderella’s castle, and then the Main Street Parade. While we were sitting in a park bench waiting for the parade to start, a maroon blazer discretely invited us to sit in the VIP reviewing stand, right where the parade route turned.  Best seats in the park!  Afterward I said goodbye and was home 30 min later.  

Today is another day of ukulele shopping; unfortunately I have to do it solo today.  


Life in LA without Papers to Grade

So last weekend after work I drove to Las Vegas.  It’s not that fun of a drive in the dark, but it was cool to see the waning moon low over the Mojave desert, looking like it was going to fall onto the valley floor.  I got in to Vegas around 11pm and my mama greeted me in the driveway.  

The next day we picked my sister up at the airport and had some family adventures.  The best was my birthday lunch; we ate at a Mexican seafood place and got a big parillada, plus a “molcajete loco” on the side, which was mixed seafood in aguachile, plus some oysters.  After that I was back on the road through the desert.  There was a big backup through Primm. 

On Tuesday night after work I picked up my sister at LAX.  It was too late and I was too tired to go out much, but there was a minor grocery store adventure.  

While my sister was here visiting we went out to karaoke league in Culver City, got Korean fried chicken in Koreatown, had oysters at Grand Central Market and tacos at Guisados DTLA with T.  

While I was saving the table, an Indian American kid fell down onto the ground and laid out flat on his back with his head resting on my shoe.  His friends gathered around him and asked him if he wanted them to call 911.  They sat him up and brought him water.  He wanted to stand but I had them sit him in a seat at my table.  I asked, “Has this happened before?  Are you seeing spots?”  His friend told me, “He just had a very spicy taco.”  I’m not sure if she was sincere of if she thought I was an idiot… but it seemed odd to us that something woudl be too spicy for and Indian kid.  I told him, “Go get ice cream.”  And he said “No, I don’t need ice cream right now; what I need is to walk.”  

What kind of weirdo would rather walk than have ice cream?  

Then they left and T and H came and then we all had tacos.  After that I took my sister to the airport for her Philippine adventure.  

Today was my first day alone in a long time.  I woke up without much to do and no specific agenda.  I turn on the TV and watched a little for a few minutes; the first time I’d looked at my own TV in almost a couple of weeks.  There was nothing on.  

So I followed a recommendation from a coworker to go to the Bagel Broker on Beverly; had myself a lox bagel on corn rye, and got 3 poppy seeds in a bag.  I saw that the “Original Farmer’s Market” was nearby, so I checked it out.  I ended up spending some money at the deli.  

I went back to Koreatown today for a foot massage, which turned out to be an hour-long Chinese conversation as well.  Right now I’m trying to stay up to see Amy Shumer on SNL, but I might go to bed instead. 

Tomorrow I’ll go to the morning farmer’s market; later I’ll play ukulele and maybe read a book.  I don’t know.  Life is so different without papers to grade.  

A Typical Day in LA

7:00 am.  Wake up to rice cooker playing its “rice is ready” song.  Also, phone alarm goes off, playing “Levels” by Nick Jonas.  Get up and get cleaned up for work, listening to KPCC.  When I’m done in the bathroom, I wipe down the chrome fixtures, so I don’t get water spots.  

7:45 am.  Make breakfast.  Usually it’s sinangag–fried rice– a couple pieces of pork adobo that I warm on the cast iron next to the rice.  A fried egg from the farmers market, because if you spend money on anything, it should be fresh eggs.  Sliced tomato, coffee.  

8:15 am.  Breakfast is done. Do the dishes and leave them to dry.  Wipe down the counters and the chrome faucet.  Sit and look at facebook and sip my coffee.  

8:30 am.  Not time to leave yet.  Now what?  Sweep the entire apartment.  

8:45 am.  Finally time to walk to work.  I’m listening to KPCC on my headphones.  

9:00 am.  Walk past the yellow Mexican restaurant.  

9:10 am.  Cross Colorado Avenue.  

9:20 am.  Roll into work 10 minutes early.  It was 1.6 miles.  

9:30 am.  Start working.  

11:00 am.  Haimaiketako: snack on a handfull of almonds.  

12:00 pm.  Office yoga.  Not kidding.  Three of us do it, sometimes four.  Sometimes it’s just me, but I don’t skip it.  

1:00 pm.  Lunch with the Rookie Lunch Club.  Today we had sushi.  On Thursdays there’s a steet market; buy cheese from the Italian cheese guy; fruits and veggies if I have cash leftover.  

2:00 pm. Back to work. 

4:00 pm.  Four-o’clock fruit.  Today it was an apple.  

5:00 pm.  Afternoon office yoga.  

6:30 pm.  Start the walk back home. Get lazy and hop on a bus. 

7:00 pm.  Arrive at home, get ready to go out.  

Monday night:  meet friends in Koreatown

Tuesday night:  ukulele club

Wednesday night:  karaoke league in Culver City.  

Thursday and Friday:  chill at home.  

11:00 pm:  sleepy time.  

This is my new life.  

Tuesday night:  

LA is fun.  I’m having fun.  

I’ve been having a lot of adventures in the last few weeks; started my new job, caught up with old friends, bought some clothes, eaten in some cool restaurants.  

T was in town all last week, we ate at a place called Recess, which was good.  We also ate at Lola’s Peruvian, which is called Lola’s because the wife is pinay.  We also ate at a crab boil type restaurant which wasn’t the worst thing I had eaten, and the server seemed genuinely embarrassed that we were there looking for fresh seafood.  


Ok, the new job.  I didn’t talk too much about it at the beginning of the summer because I really wanted to concentrate on being on vacation, my best, longest, and last big summer vacation.  I think some folks were expecting some big juicy public relations announcment about my new job as a celebrity Spanish teacher, but alas, I doubt there will be any fireworks.  Just a well-paying, stable job, and an adventure on the LA city line.  

So the new job is at Age of Learning, the company that brings you  I’ve been hired as a Language Curriculum Specialist, and if all goes right I’ll be developing media for learning Spanish and Chinese. Hopes are high.  

Ok, let me tell you about last weekend, before I forget it all.  

On Friday night, I got off work and had nothing to do.  I found a karaoke meetup in Northridge online, so I drove out there and found NOTHING, I waited for half an hour and no karaoke.  Boo. 

The next day I did some morning clothes shopping, and then met my friend M from grad school.  We had lunch at TKF, an Armenian-run Georgian restaurant that specializes in khinkali.  Super fun, and was great to see M again after 18 years.  

After that I drove out to Highland Park to meet LA P, a friend from Shanghai.  We caught up over drinks in a bar, and it was about then that I forgot that I had ever been a teacher.  

My next stop was at United Bread and Pastry, to pick up something for a BBQ at A’s.  I called the lady “tita,” and she called me “hijo” and I picked out a mocha cake, which was either going to be American-birthday-cake sweet; or Chinese-sweet, which means it’s sweetened by the eater’s memory of sweetness.  Which is to say, not sweet.  

I got it to A’s beautiful house in Laurel Canyon.  A had billed it as a summer BBQ, but it was really a dinner party, complete with cocktails, and mahi mahi tacos.  It turned out that the mocha cake was totally not sweet, which is exactly how I like it, but some people found it shocking.  

The next morning I met Amber, L, and J at Square One, in Silverlake near the Scientologist’s skyblue compound.  We hung around in Silverlake for a while, and then later Amber and I hung out in Downtown LA, and had Mexican seafood at the Grand Central Market.  After that we went to Koreatown and found a really good stewed fish, and an amazing foot massage place.  The place itself wasn’t that charming, but the quality of the massage was as good or better than our spot in Shanghai.  Of course we talked in Chinese the whole time and learned a lot from our chatty massage guys.  They were really pretty expert.  

Later that night I met D at the Brass Monkey, and she introduced me to all  the Regulars.  I imagine I’ll be spending a lot of time at the Brass Monkey.  

LA was lonely for a while, but now it’s fun.  I’m having fun.  

Not Exactly Riveting

So I’ve moved into my new apartment in Glendale, California; two blocks from the Los Angeles city line.  I got the keys to my new rental apartment last week, and my place is now livable.  There are still plenty of boxes lying around… I’ll get to ’em!  

Los Angeles is only the third biggest town I’ve lived in permanently, not counting summer study.  So far I would say that LA reminds me most of Manila:  hot, built to the scale of cars, and isolating.  Going anywhere is a long drive.  

Isolating?  Yes.  For example, apparently there’s a heat wave going on outside, but I wouldn’t know!  Because my apartment has central a/c; my car stays cool in the garage; when I do drive the car, there is a/c, and any destination is invariably freezing.  

Anyway, it’s a little baffling, but my sister says I’m going to like it here, so I may be doomed to like it here.  I had planned to keep up my vacation pace of blogging all my daily adventures, but now that I have cable TV I feel like my days are better spent sifting through the channels.  I’ll be glad when the new job starts next week.  

Here are my successes and failures over the last week.  


  • Found the Korean and Filipino supermarkets
  • Saw the Hollywood sign in the wild
  • Bought a new couch and bed
  • Made pork adobo in my new kitchen 
  • Found coffee beans with a rosted-on date

Still to do:  

  • Buying a doorstop 
  • Eat Armenian food
  • Meet a neighbor
  • Buy a bus pass

I feel like I have minor adventures every day, but they are not especially riveting:  a pickup vs. cop car collision; some credit card fraud.  

Probably the most blogable saga that I experienced was my quest for proper fresh-roasted coffee beans. That was a story in three acts:  Act One:  No Roasted-On Date?  Act Two: No Sales At The Rosterie.  Act Three:  Seattle To The Rescue.  There’s even a sequel:  The Bad Haircut.  

See?  Not exactly riveting.     




The Road Again: Back to LA

There are a couple of more selfies to share from my time in Vegas.  Mama and I went to Downtown Vegas on my last night there; played some video poker at a bar, and then walked along Fremont Street.  Then we drove down Fremont street, which used to be dangerous, but it was several blocks before we saw any police activity!   

The next morning I started my drive back to LA.  I stopped in Baker to clean my windshield, and in Barstow for a double-double animal style.    

Driving in the Mojave desert is a trip.  There are parts of the drive where your windshield is a huge view of a desert planet, and you’re just skimming across a narrow ribbon of engineering.  Sometimes your on a flat, and the mountians ring the horizon, and the road looks like it goes to the edge of the earth.  Other times you’re in the mountain passes and you can see for sixty miles; so far that the distance starts to fade into the vapor mirage.  

The high desert ends with Victorville, and then it’s the San Bernadino Forest.  After that it’s Planet Freeway.  

I have to end this blog post because the picture above is making me hungry.  

Time Flies 

Time flies when I’m hanging out with my mama!  

I wanted to hurry up and find an apartment in Glendale so I could get my move done and be settled when I start my new job.  But when I ffound the apartment on the 13th, they told me my move-in date wasn’t until the 19th…  What was I supposed to do for six days?  

Of course, I bolted for my mama’s house; I called her from the road and told her to get the guest room ready for me!  

So the drive from LA to Vegas… everyone says it’s 5 hours, but you can do it in 4.  There’s always someone who said they did it in 2.5, but they are just desperate for a high five.  I feel like I did it in six hours, and most of that time was spent on an LA freeway.  It was exhausting.  I stopped for coffee in Barstow, and then a pitstop in Baker.  The Mojave Desert is hot, dry… and boring.  

Finally I made it to Vegas.  There were isolated thunderstorms, and a flash flood warning.  I was just glad to be here.  

So adventures with my mama include Korean food, grocery shopping, Northern Chinese food, mousing in the garden, shoe shopping, bingo, video poker, slot machines, Mexican groceries, Salvadoran food, Mexican food, bad seafood buffet.  

Tonight’s my last night in Vegas; tomorrow I’m heading back to Glendale early, so I can sign some lease papers in the morning, and be ready when the move-in madness starts Thursday morning.  

I’ll be back in Vegas again soon enough .


Roadtrip to LA 2015: Quality Time

My sister spoke at the now-famous social security rally where Bernie Sanders got pre-empted by #blacklivesmatter activists.  As soon as that was over, my sister and I bolted; I said “goodbye, Seattle” and we hit the road.  

We stopped for coffee in Olympia, which is our hometown, but I barely remember the place.  My sister had to give me directions to a coffee shop.  

Our next stop was Salem, Oregon.  We found a Korean restaurant and ordered too much food.  Soondubu, grilled mackeral, mool naeng myun.  They were super nice there, and they gave us a sweet orange, peeled and shaded with cocktail umbrella.  

Later, we got to our hotel in Eugene and crashed. The next morning I got up early, but my sister slept in, so I gassed up the car and did some laundry and some light exploring, got coffee, etc.  There was a little bit of culture clash when I got out of my car and reached for my wallet to pump my own gas… and the attendant called from the other side of the lot, “I’ll be right with you!”  and I remembered that regular people don’t pump their own gas in Oregon, it’s a thing. “Forgot I was in Oregon,” I said to the attendant.  He wasn’t that impressed.  

We had a long drive ahead of us, so we got a big American breakfast at an Elmer’s Diner.  Doesn’t look like much!    

We hit a rest stop somewhere along the way, and took this selfie at a pitstop.  By the way, my sister’s guns are straight fire and not at all being pushed up by the car door.    

We stopped for lunch in Ashland, Oregon, and had lunch on the Calle Guanajuato, which is a fancyish pedestrian lane.  I had a burger at some restaurant where the servers were attractive and not very sharp.  I think by this time I was starting to feel a tickle in my throat.    

Before leaving Ashland, we took a drink at the Lithia Spring, which is naturally fizzy and high in sulfur.  I’ve had it before, and I warned my sister that at first it is gross, but then you keep trying it to remember how gross it is, which is enjoyable.  

My sister said that it tasted like pennies in a pickle jar, like blood, like a bloody nose… Eventually the little bottle that we took lost its fizz and turned green, so I threw it out at a rest stop in Dunnigan, California.  

Anyway, eight hours of driving later, we were in Daly City, hanging out with Auntie R and Uncle R, Cowsins F&D and J, and our nephew little E.    

We had dinner there, and breakfast the next morning, and then we hit the road.  By then, I had a full-blown cold.  We stopped in Atascadero, CA for an hour or so too see my sister’s friend and her new baby.  They had a beautiful house and a beautiful mellow new son, and I felt bad for being sick.  We did take pictures but I didn’t take any with my phone, so nothing for the blog.  

Not long after that, we stopped in Los Olivos and bought some wine and olives for pasalubong.  As we got to Pismo Beach I asked my sister, “how long until we get to the coast?”  She answered that we were about to see the money shot, and then bam, the mountains parted and the Pacific Ocean view filled the windshield, as we came down the mountain.  

We drove along the coast, and got off the highway in Santa Barbara, and had a burger in Summerland at a burger shack.  

We made it to J’s house in Pacific Palisades that night, and I was too sick to be coherent, so I crashed while my sister stayed up and chatted with J and her sister L and the three dogs and the two boys.  It was so so so nice of J to let us crash there!  How do I not have any photos on my phone of our stay there?   




The next morning I got gas (big mistake in Pacific Palisades) and then took my sister with me to go apartment hunting.  We saw some gross places in Glendale.  It was discouraging.  After we saw the last apartment, I asked my sister to take me to Griffith Park Observatory. 

Below is a photo with the Hollywood sign (top left corner, white smudge in the hillside), plus a selfie on the rooftop and one from inside the Planetarium.  We saw a show about Viking astronomy which was narrated by a live actor and over-animated.     

Later we met up with my sister’s friends for dinner, and took these selfies.      



The next day was the day my sister flew out of Burbank, so rather than resume the apartment hunt, I declared a goof-off day.  So my sister took me to her favorite seafood market on Redondo Pier and we ate uni.


We also had camarones en aguachile and tako poke, both of which were served with tostadas.    

Here’s the police sniper we saw. 

We put our toes in the Pacific and then walked on the Pier.      

My sister saved room for a corndog at Craig’s Hot Dog.  As he was hand-dipping it, he told us that the whole Pier was going to get fancied up and redone, and that he probably wouldn’t be there by next year.  He said that people wanted to upscale it, like Pike Place Market in Seattle.  Obviously, these people don’t know shit about Pike Place Market in Seattle, which is textbook case for NOT upscaling.  

After Redondo we had time to kill, so we played a game called “Drive Through Neignborhoods We’ve Heard of.”  We drove through Manhattan Beach (didn’t find parking), Compton, South Central, Watts, and wound our way up to Koreatown, and by then it was time for lunch, so we stopped at a ramen place and got rice and takoyaki… everything but ramen!  

After that we went to Burbank and took this selfie at the airport drive.  I was sad that my sister was leaving!    

I went back to J’s place to crash, and had a lovely dinner al fresco near the pool with J and the charming dogs.  

The next morning I dragged myself out of bed and drove another hour back to Glendale to resume the apartment hunt.  I parked at a cafe and started calling places on Zillow.  

The first place to call me back was my first choice; 30 minutes walk to work, all luxury amenities, a little far from the trendy bars so no dorm-like shennanigans.  I went to see the place, and it was awesome in every way!  Except for electric stove, which I will adapt to, ugh.  Anyway, I applied for the place and got accepted, so mission accomplished; I have an apartment in Glendale now.  

I drove the hour back to J’s house and packed my things, said goodbye and headed to Vegas.  Here’s a selfie I took at the bluff over the Pacific at Pacific Palisades before heading off.    
Next:  Quality Time in Vegas.  

Bernie Sanders Survived Westlake Plaza.  I was there! 

I haven’t been able to see the news coverage of Senator Bernie Sanders’ speech getting disrupted by #blacklivesmatter activists.  

I was standing in the back near See’s Candy to watch the senator’s speech, and when the activists stormed the podium I went down to the gate where people were being let in and out of the organizers’ tent; I wanted to be able to grab my sister out of there if things got ugly.  

I don’t have much time to post, so I will say this about the whole deal.  The event was not a Bernie Sanders campaign stop, it was a social security rally that had been planned beforehand; the senator was a later addition to the agenda.  But from the beginning of the event, people saw it as a campaign event, and people in the crowd were demanding to see the senator from the beginning of the event.  Get off the stage!  Put Bernie on!  

From where I stood, it was hard to hear the speakers and understand what was going on. It was clear to me that most of the people shouting at the activists were bitterly disappointed that they didn’t get to hear the senator speak, that it ruined their whole day.  Also, it was clear to me that people didn’t know what was going on.  They couldn’t see that most of the organizers in the tent were on board with the #blacklivesmatter activists.  They didn’t see senator Sanders listening to and occasionally applauding the activists, as he went into “wait and see” mode.  I saw people yelling the bike cops to come in and handle the situation, and I saw the cops look back at the crowd as if they were insane.  

So to review:  The crowd was surly from the beginning.  They were disappointed not to see what they were expecting to see.  They couldn’t hear clearly and didn’t really understand the situation.  

What they did understand was that this was a huge disruption and was a slap in the face to the national face of liberalism.  

My personal thoughts:  it is a crisis of morality and our consititution that people are getting killed in the street in the name of law enforcement, or while in custody.  The fact that it’s usually African Americans is a national emergency.  This is not a back burner issue, we can’t ask African Americans to keep dying while we prioritize… what… legislative battles?  

Bernie Sanders survived yesterday as did all of his supporters.  They lived.  They are ok.  Maybe they are not becoming #blacklivesmatter allies anytime soon; but black folks continue to die in the country and that is a higher priority to me than courtesy and decorum.  

Last Day in Manila; Back Home for a Minute

I’m only back in the 206 for a minute.  

On they day of my niece’s 18th birthday party, her “debut,” I got caught in the rain.  I ducked into a 7-11 to wait out the rain and NOT buy a 5th umbrella.  I ate some 7-11 chicharrones to help pass the time.  

 After a change of clothes, I got into an über.  The driver snaked through Makati, rather than EDSA/Ortigas, so I spotted a Wang Mart.  I figured it should be on the internet.

I had left the condo at 5pm, with explicit instructions from my niece to show up at 6pm American Time, NOT Filipino time.  So I was annoyed at 6pm when I was still in the car, waiting in traffic and watching the sun set over the Pasig.  
Here’s the scene I found when I got there at 6:40:  


Mostly empty venue!  I put my gift at the table and sat down and picked at the trail mix, avoiding the m&m’s.  
There were plenty of photographers there, so I just took some selfies with family.  

 As is my custom I took a picture of my plate.  All the food was RICH.  The blue lights made the food look bad but I am too busy to put a filter on, are you kiding me?  


 I got a ride home from Kuya J at midnight and packed my bags, including my various electronic cables.  

The next morning Kuya J picked me up at the condo and I took this last photo.     
Meanwhile, my relatives started posting some of their own photos of the party, including photos of some photos from the photo booth.  

Here’s an airport selfie from Manila, where it was desperately, desperately cold.      
It was four hours to Seoul; I watched Avengers 2 and some other movie.  When I got to Seoul it was a tight connection and it was a good thing I learned how to read “Seattle” in Korean script.  


The flight attendant behind me is a baby whisperer; they send her to flirt with fussy babies.  That was a 9 hour flight, and I watched Tomorrowland.  I like Korean Air, lots of legroom and food is decent.  It’s kind of funny how they launched into an explanation of bibimbap with every passenger, and the flight attendant was shocked, SHOCKED! when I asked for gochuchan, which came in a little toothpaste tube.  

I got home and slept as if my life depended on it.  When I got up, it was so early that the grocery story checker had to leave their station unattended.  So I had to squeeze the squeezy toy.   

Here’s the breakfast I made for my sister; sausage-silog.  

 The next day Cowsin I showed up to look at some vinyl records.  We found some gems.     

Below is a road trip that I’m planning.  Plus my new whip.