November Holiday

I’m currently in Las Vegas. It’s our Thanksgiving break, and I flew down with H and K on Tuesday night after school.  There was a grand plan to join the airline catering demonstration and enjoy the airport lounge, but alas it was not to be. I was happy to settle for spicy mac and cheese.

I showed up to the flight wearing my #3 Wilson jersey, and rather than leave it to chance this time I asked the gate agents if they were going to call for priority boarding for jerseys. The man at the counter said yes, you just have to listen for it. Oh, maybe that’s my problem, I haven’t been listening hard enough to get priority boarding.  Well, they boarded priority boarding, first class, and when they called to seat group A, I told them I didn’t hear for the call for jerseys. The woman at the jetway said, oh, yes, that’s in group B!  So I stood aside, and she called group B, and a bunch of group B people stepped into line.  I was like, wtf, so I stepped into line, and after checking a few people in, she called for people wearing jerseys to board. I was definitely the only person in the entire airport wearing the jersey, which is maddening given Russel Wilson’s march towards the MVP this year. Anyway, getting called in the middle of group B doesn’t feel like “priority boarding.”

Whatever. We rented a Chevy Malibu and drove to my folks’s house. The next morning, I was feeling sick, which is annoying because I had just gotten over something. I stayed in bed as my family enjoyed such family traditions as casino bingo and chicken wings.

The following day was Thanksgiving Day, which is my favorite holiday, but seems frought now that we know that the “Pilgrims ❤ Natives, Kumbayah” fiction is a rather cruel decades-long whitewash of the atrocities committed by the Separatists against the Pequot tribe. So now, especially that I don’t eat turkey or sugar anymore, it made sense to decolonize my celebration. I made pansit and mustard greens for the feast, as well as mashed potatoes and stuffing.

Mama made her apple pie, sweetened with ripe bananas and persimmons rather than sugar. I think next year there will be mushroom gravy, and potage.

We spent most of “black friday” hanging out at the house; I took another afternoon nap while K and H met friends and hung out in town. Later that night we shopped at the outlet mall; I bought a sweater for work. I had planned to buy nothing to protest capitalism, but in my defense it was 70% off.

Today is our last day in Vegas, we fly home tonight. I’ll be back again for the Christmas holiday, but my sister and brother-in-law will be visiting his family in New York.

Happy Holidays, everyone; hope 2020 is more fun and prosperous for all of us.

Bayani Mari, requiem in paradisum

My favorite memory of my cowsin Bayani is from over 30 years ago. Even though we lived very close by, we didn’t see him much. We did care for him and wanted to be with him, but there were some boundaries that the adults kept that we kids went along with even though we didn’t understand.

One time, when he was around 10 years old, cowsin Bayani needed a ride somewhere important, and the adults in his life couldn’t swing it. I remember we were happy to go pick him up and give him a ride to where he needed to be.

I remember it was a sunny late summer or early fall afternoon, and us kids were sitting in the back of the van. My sister and I were clowning as usual, and Bayani seemed shy or at least not very talkative.  I remember that he was happy to be with us, and that he had a deep Mari chuckle, the same one his dad and all his sisters have, the same chuckle that my cowsins in Daly City have.

As adults we reconnected on Facebook, and we were glad to find each other. We didn’t find a way to reconnect in person, mostly because of the distance between us. I was either in Seattle working, or living in California; his life was in the Thurston County. I think he felt hurt that we weren’t a bigger part of his life as he was growing up, I certainly regret that as well.

I admired Cowsin Bayani’s adventures, catching salmon. I think he struggled sometimes, and the last time I saw him post on Facebook, I wanted to post him some words of support. However, it was late at night, and I figured my encouragement would land better after a good sleep and some perspective.

The following day, I got a message from a relative in Canada, who forwarded me the sad newspaper article. Bayani Mari, my first cousin, had died on a highway in the early morning. He was 42. Eternal rest grant unto him o Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul rest in peace.

Recipe: Potage

I first ate potage when I was studying in Avignon in the fall of 1993.  I asked my host mother what the magical green soup was, and she laughed and said it was just potage.  It was thick, green, complex, and had some beautiful olive oil floating on top. When I asked why there was olive oil floating on top, she said “it tastes good.”

My host mother and brother encouraged me to use the last scraps of bread to mop up the last of the sauce on my plate; considered gauche in France but we didn’t care. We used the Italian term, “fare la scarpetta.”

One day, the potage was so good, I started doing “la scarpetta” to the last of drops of it, thickly clinging to the bottom of my soup bowl. My host brother, Christophe, who was my European table manners coach, told me wearily that we don’t far’ la scarpetta with the soup course.  My most mother Madame di Nicola didn’t miss a beat; without a word she picked up a scrap of bread and told Christophe, “well, we do now!”

Madame di Nicola didn’t share her recipe with me back then; I wasn’t really cooking at the time. But she did tell me it’s an improvised recipe, just steamed or boiled vegetables, flavored with garlic, onion, and herbs, whizzed together in a blender. I remember she told me that some people add potatoes, but one small potato is the maximum. The look on her face told me that people that added more than one small potato were not behaving properly.

Serve potage hot, at the table drizzle the best olive oil on top. Black pepper or parmesan cheese sprinkles are optional. Apparently in northern France they’d top it with cream or butter, but nobody’s perfect.

My recipe is also not a recipe, just some constraints. Yesterday I steamed a bunch of broccoli and celery (enough to fill the blender) and whizzed them in the blender with the steamer water and four cloves of raw garlic. I toasted some cracked black pepper and heated some olive oil in the soup pot. Then I realized I didn’t really want to sauté anything, so I just dumped in some dill and then poured in the minty green soup.

And that’s it; serve it with olive oil.

I recently found out that Madame di Nicola passed away peacefully surrounded by her family. May the joyful memories of her time with us stay with her family and friends, and continue to bring them joy. May she rest in peace.

Roughly a Week

It’s been roughly a week since my last post. I’m making an effort to put events in my calendar and to blog them, because I’m having a nice time and I want to remember this stuff.

This is my mama, my sister, and I at bingo a few days prior. We didn’t win anything but we sat at the same table with a nice African American lady from Long Beach who won $200 and gave us each a dollar from her wallet for being lucky.  She enjoyed our clowning.

I bought these five-finger toe shoes online to strengthen my arches and correct my step.  I’ve been wearing them for half the day, every day for the last week. My arches are absolutely working harder and getting stronger, I can feel that. In fact, at a massage the other day the therapist hit a pressure point in my arch and I felt like I was pasted to the ceiling.  In the last couple of days I have sat on the sofa and attacked that pressure point myself (if you’re keeping score it’s Spleen 4 – Ancestor and Descendant) and those muscles feel like suspension cables.  I guess they are suspension cables.

Anyway, the other reason to wear five-finger toe shoes is to weird out the squares, to watch their minds explode, and say “chill out dude.” Of course I’m in Seattle now so nobody bats an eye, even though I know in their hearts they are freaking out.

On my last day in Vegas, my parents and I went to an Indian buffet before dropping me off at the airport.

At the airport there were the requisite #airportselfie and #asiansquatbombs.

img_5534One of the things I love about flying Alaska is the Fruit and Cheese box, which I never fail to reserve.  Never.

Well, this time the apple was brown and there was a gross spot on one of the slices, which made me not want to eat the apple, or the grapes. I tweeted a “what gives” to them but they didn’t respond.  Huge disappointment.



I finally got a chance to go to the Sunfish Café on Alki. It’s run by two Greek brothers, a smiley one and one who seems grumpier.  I hadn’t been there in four years, but Smiley brother greeted me warmly, started speaking to me in Greek, remarked that I hadn’t been there in a long time, and asked how my sister was.  I got the cod combo. That’s such good fish and chips, and it feels good to go there.  Later, their one employee, a sweet Mexican lady, came over to say hello, gave me a big hug, and asked about my sister.  If you want to know my favorite fish and chips places, check here.

I went to my new school the other day; they issued me a computer and let me into my new classroom. They also gave me a copy of Stevenson’s Just Mercy, the faculty summer reading assignment. It’s good that I’m finally reading this because I’ve been quoting it for years; “…the opposite of poverty is not wealth. The opposite of poverty is justice.”  More on that in future posts, I imagine.

I also treated myself to lunch at Musashi’s.

So listen, one of my favorite taco places is TnT Taquería, the tacos are well made and the experience is pretty gringo friendly. It’s a corporate restaurant, but all the employees seem to be latino and Latin American. On the one hand, they have two vegetarian options for me; maíz de pozole con espinacas (“hominy with spinach”) and kamote con col rizado (sweet potatoes with kale)… but they call the sweet potatoes “papas dulces” which just crawls up my butt like teeth on a chalkboard. They were delicious, by the way. I ordered them with beans and rice as if tacos were an entree, and you know what, they were next to beans and rice, so they were an entree.  I had to take a picture of the sandwich board saying “SEÑOR PASTOR COMÉ AQUI” because that’s really, really, really, really bad Spanish. It tells customers, “cheesy gringos only.”  It features twin trompas with stereotype mustaches, which makes me think it was actually designed by a Mexican person with a very, very little esteem for the gringos.

I got to hang out with my boy BM in his neighborhood the other night, we caught up over a beer and a bowl of clams.

Later he texted me if I wanted to go to a Mariners’ game… I asked a bunch of questions and thought about it as if it needed serious consideration, which is ridiculous, because I always want to go to a Mariners’ game with BM.  He bought tickets online and sent me a screenshot of the confirmation.

Hours later, I remembered that I’m trying to put stuff in my calendar, so I look at the screenshot to get the details and… this can’t be right… these tickets are for Rogers Centre in Toronto!  I texted BM “I think you bought tickets to an away game,” and we had a good laugh. Wish I could go!

5ae35780-a574-4cfa-b7a0-85d11f2203c5So I went to Pacific Inn Pub for fish and chips yesterday, because I can’t stop eating fish and chips and I just love heart disease.  I’ll try to limit my consumption. But I was in the neighborhood. I got the three piece fish and chips and a pint of Manny’s.  Sublime. 4ae061bd-ad8f-4555-93c5-78bc2efd877aClowning with my sister. img_20190813_084217-animationI haven’t been to Pagliacci in years but it’s in my sister’s neighborhood so I tried it again… it was about a thousand times better than I remember it from college.  8c49f27c-6cec-4dea-bb4a-53fb0425d5dc

I haven’t backslided on my #konmari lifestyle yet.  These are my chonis, folded to stand up for themselves. They spark joy. 5870d1fc-0357-4952-83fb-42448a4f9436

Other things not to forget about this week; hanging out with JG and BS, wanting to be a podcaster again, going to ASL meetup, eating at Dumplings of Fury, signing up for and skipping crossfit… I’ll go later.

This new box, Crossfit West Seattle, is perfect; it’s half a block from my sister’s house, it’s a converted auto shop… perfect. It strikes me as very Seattle; everybody is introverted, they don’t turn the music up very loud… the penalty for being late is two burpees for every minute late, which seems like not very much! Of course I will never be late, ever.

I wrote Coach Paul at Nela Athletics to tell him about two burpee late penalty… he wrote back the next morning, and told me to move back to LA. Just say screw it, move back in October. I probably can’t do that, but the adventure sounds like fun…

Finally, I met my friends for happy hour last night at Fiasco, which is a funny name for a restaurant.


The Miracle of the Coffee Mugs

coffee-mug-collection-worlds-largest-memorable-mugsThere are about twenty coffee mugs in my mama’s cupboard. My sister and I are both here to visit for the week, so there are four coffee-drinking adults in this house.

Some of the mugs are matchy matchy; they are of no use to me. When my family drinks coffee from a mug from a matching set, they lose track of whose-coffee-is-whose the minute their fingers leave the handle. “Is this mine?”  Sometimes we remember, we can recover knowledge of possession, the coffee physically in front of me is probably mine.  However, most of the time, we put down our coffee down and then walk all over the house, erasing that crucial chain of possession from the three bits of RAM we have in our melon heads.

So as I said, the matchy mugs from the set are of no use to me. When I’m returning 20 clean mugs to my mama’s cupboard, I shove all the matchy mugs to the dark, back corner, and bring all the singleton mugs to the front.  I want my family to drink out of singleton mugs, so they will remember; oh, my mug is the union local mug, your mug is the souvenir mug with a bull in silhouette and “España” written across the top… Unique singleton mugs, in my mind, erase the problem of matchy mug confusion, due to their unique uniqueness of uniquity.

Every morning, I  make a pot of coffee and serve it in a thermos pitcher, and I set out four singleton mugs, precisely calculated to serve each of the four coffee-drinking adults in the family, so that we all use precisely one mug, one mug for each person. I arrange the thermos and the four mugs onto the breakfast table as a centerpiece; the thermos towers over the four mugs like a mother duck with four ducklings.  I imagine my parents and sister would see the breakfast table, realize that the coffee is served, and sit down at the breakfast table and stay out of my damn way as I’m making breakfast for everyone.  That is what I imagine.

Actually, what happens in actuality is quite different, actually. When they come into the kitchen area for breakfast, they stop in the kitchen area and reach into the cupboard for a mug. It doesn’t matter how far back I bury the matchy mugs behind rows of singletons; they reach into the cupboard and half a second later there is a matchy mug in their hand as if the cupboard was filled exclusively with matchy mugs.  Then they say something like, “oh, did you forget to make coffee?” and then stand in the center of the kitchen and look for the thermos.

Folks, every day, I make coffee, I serve it in a thermos at the breakfast table, along with four mugs. So by the time I put hot garlic fried rice, fried eggs, and diced tomatoes on the table, there are three matching mugs on the table, filled with coffee, plus the four empty singletons that I served.  A total of seven mugs on the table. Sometimes, eight.

After breakfast, I clear the dishes from the breakfast table and take them to the dishwasher. There are several plates to watch, some utensils, and somehow there are four dozen dirty coffee mugs to wash. Mama only owns 20 mugs, but there are 48 mugs filling the dishwasher. Once the dishwasher is filled, coffee mugs and water glasses (a similar phenomenon) start appearing from other parts of the house. So now there are 48 mugs in the dishwasher and 24 more mugs that have come home to roost, making a grand total of 300,000 that I have to deal with after one breakfast service. The vast majority are hard working and law abiding, and the crime rate among the mugs is actually lower than that of the general population. Most are documented with the government, many are not. Needless to say, the dishwasher is overwhelmed.

When everything is washed and dried, all twenty mugs go back into the cupboard. I try to bury the matchy mugs in the back, knowing that my family has the magical ability to summon them forward, making them and millions of other coffee mugs appear on the breakfast table, numbering like the stars in the heavens.

Cruising the Strip

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Last night I cruised the Vegas Strip with T, who was on his long road trip back to Beantown. We met up at the Sign and had a quick dinner at skinnyFATS, which was the closest place on the short list I threw together of restaurants to that were quick, close to the strip, and not gross national fast food chains. I ordered a portobello sandwich. I didn’t propose a lot of Asian food, but in the end, T got a bowl of beef teriyaki.

On the way to the strip, we passed the site of the deadly mass shooting in 2017; local people refer to the tragedy as One October. I repeated the legend of Tupak getting shot on Las Vegas Blvd and E Flamingo (he did get shot on E Flamingo, but it was a block east of the strip on Kovar Drive). We cruised all the way up the strip to the Bonanza, shopped for refrigerator magnates, and then cruised all the way back down again and said goodbye as he continued his journey east.

Now that he’s gone, I will the last of the roadtrippers to escape the desert for good.

Yellow Brick Roadtrip

Here’s a preliminary schedule for my Great Northwestern Migration. My Yellow Brick Roadtrip. My Own Private Calexit. My Desert Escape. My Northwexodus. My Mount Rainier-I-Come.

Let me know if you’d like to join me for part or all of the drive!  I’ll pay for food, lodging, and gas.

  • 16 July, Tuesday. The POD arrives at my apartment in Palm Desert; we fill it with my boxes and furniture.
  • 17 July, Wednesday. The POD is spirited away. Last sleep in the desert, on air mattresses in an empty apartment.
  • 18 July, Thursday. Drive. Lunch in Bakersfield. Dinner in Elk Grover, short of Sacramento.  Crash at my friend’s cavernous palace, with a guest suite.
  • 19 July, Friday.  Drive. Lunch in Weed. Dinner and motel in Eugene.
  • 20 July, Saturday. Drive. Arrive in Seattle. Eat lunch. Go to a BBQ at Yones’ near Greenlake.

Update:  My route through Bakersfield will take me through Delano.  I wonder if I should do a UFW pilgrimage and photo essay,