Narration exercise: Toy Helicopter

My Honors Spanish II class is studying narration in the past with the pretérito and the imperfecto. As an exercise, I give them a story with the verbs underlined, and it’s their job to conjugate the verbs in the correct tense. Here’s a short story I wrote for them as an exercise, it’s called “Toy Helicopter.”

De niño, Juan Patricio era muy precioso y nada travieso.  Siempre obedecía a sus papás y a su abuelita. Se sabía muchas canciones y le gustaba cantarlas a su abuelita y sus tíos.  No tenía amigos o primos de su edad, entonces siempre jugaba con los adultos.  

Un día de navidad, Juan Patricio recibió un regalo tremendo. Fue un juguete: ¡un helicóptero en miniatura que volaba! Estaba muy ilusionado sentado al lado de su papá, mientras que su papá armaba el helicóptero.  

Después de armar el helicóptero en miniatura, el papá de Juan Patricio le dijo, “yo voy primero y tú después.” Entonces el papá se tomó el control remoto del helicóptero en miniatura y empezó a jugar, haciendo en círculos en el aire de la sala, parándolo en el aire en medio vuelo, aterrizando y despegando una y otra vez.  Juan Patricio se sentaba al lado de su papá, muy ilusionado, con muchas ganas de jugar con el control remoto también. Le pidió el control remoto a su papá, pero su papá no quería dárselo. “Es peligroso,” le decía.  

Juan Patricio quería jugar con su helicóptero pero su papá no se lo dejaba. Juan Patricio empezó a llorar en silencio, secándose las lágrimas con la manga de su pijama amarillo rayado.  Luego, empezó a sollozar. Su papá se dio cuenta y le regañó. “¡Ya deja de llorar!” le dijo, enojado.  

“¡Es que es mío el juguete, y yo quiero jugar!”

Su papá se levantó y se fue a su habitación y cerró la puerta, enojado que su hijo llorara. Juan Patricio se quedó solo con su juguete. Por fin podía jugar. Hizo unos tristes círculos con el helicóptero; sollozando, lo paró en el aire en medio vuelo, aterrizando y despegando una y otra vez, todavía sollozando. Se sentía triste y abandonado. Jugó sollozando unos minutos más, y luego regresó el helicóptero en miniatura a su caja y se fue a la cama.

Note to Self: Manage the Blues

tenorDear future self,

You’ve had the blues before and you’ll probably have them again. Usually, you forget what to do as you start to feel sad, and the logic and focus that you usually count on starts turning in circles like a dog chasing its own tail. Here’s a list of things you can do to break that exhausting cycle. Think of it as your Sad Day Emergency Kit.

  • Go to the beach. I have no idea why this works, I’m just glad it does.
  • Music. Listen to it, write it, practice it, perform it. Probably the only good thing about getting the blues is that sad songs feel so good.
  • Amigos. Look, getting rescued by your closest friends seems great until they get sick of it doing it; then you feel much, much worse, and you’re back to chasing your own tail. Try to hold it together and don’t be afraid to tell everyone about the blues. Cherish the ones who stick around, and take you to karaoke.
  • Chop your hair off. I don’t know why I don’t do this more often.
  • Start over. Quit your job, move away. See the world. You’ll learn new things and become more interesting, and feel relieved about coming home.
  • Learn a language. Remember when you decided to learn Chinese? You were driving up Rainier Avenue, saw a red hen, and decided that it meant that you were going to study in China. That actually panned out, and is still paying off.
  • Exercise. This is preventative; not a short term solution. Sorry.

Why All The Selfies?

The other day in a faculty meeting, I snapped a low-angle selfie of myself in a frame that included my notes, a cup of berries, and the tip of a monstrously huge banana. From across the room, I heard a cackle of laughter from my colleague M. “Is that a selfie?!” he asked incredulously.

“It sure is!”, I answered happily as I reviewed it and sent it on its way.

Later M confronted me.  “What was that about?!”, he asked, delighted.

Years ago when I worked in Seattle, I used to text my friend C during faculty meetings. Usually snarky comments. When I moved to California, I tried to keep doing it; it’s even funnier to me now that we’re not in the same meeting… not even the same state.

I think M was surprised to hear this explanation. He seemed to find it reasonable, and it seemed it hadn’t occurred to him before that selfies could be used to subvert the authority of a faculty meeting. I think he had been expecting an answer that involved more vanity.

I was skeptical of selfies at first as well. Back in 2004 my sister had a Kyocera whose objective pivoted on a hinge to swing around and take selfies. Once I saw how happy my sister and I both looked, my vanity shame vanished.

A few years later, my sister and I made a trip with my mama to the Grand Canyon, who commented off-handedly that you can hardly be Asian anymore without taking selfies. She was talking specifically about selfie sticks. If you’re interested in selfie sticks, I think this one looks good.

I know some people still choke on the vanity of taking selfies. If I ask you to take one with me, here’s what I want you to know: I’m happy to be there with you, and I want to remember it. I don’t even care if the photo turns out fuzzy, if I forgot to smile, or if my chin is ballooning like a bullfrog.

On some days, difficult days, I find it useful to remember what I look like when I’m happy.

Also, sometimes I need to remember that I have friends.

If for whatever reason someone doesn’t want to take a selfie, or doesn’t want to see it, or doesn’t want me to post it, that’s fine with me.

Another very important reason that I take selfies is that I want my mama to see that I’m getting on a plane. Or that I’ve gotten dressed for work. Or that I’ve made it safely to my sister’s house. Those are for my mama. If people begrudge me for sending posting those, I don’t have much to say about that. Sometimes you’re just not the target audience.

Let’s now address the issue of vanity. Yes, I do take vanity selfies. Out of vanity. Because I’m vain. I know I’m not going to win any ribbons at the county fair, but if the lighting is right (as it is in the airplane bathroom), I think it’s ok for me to admire how I look once it a while, since nobody else seems to. My mama appreciates when I look better than normal, and if exes and enemies see that I’m surviving, there’s no harm in that. Also, not wanting to see yourself in a picture because you don’t look perfect is also a kind of vanity.

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Finally, #asiansquatbombs… I take those because it amuses me that colonizers often fall backwards onto their butts when they try it.

Rules I Try to Live By

Never. Miss. Soundcheck.

Take notes. Look busy.

Sleep is a gift.

Vegetables are a gift you give your colon.

The clam that didn’t open is a mud bomb.

If I wasn’t invited, it wasn’t my business.

Say please and thank you; tell people you love them while you can.

Learning language? Find people with talk your face off with. Everything else follows.

If you want pancakes, just make pancakes.

Don’t share a table with someone you hate. Life is short and your meals are numbered.

“Weekends are for mates.” Jim

Don’t ask people to keep secrets or to lie for you.

Wash all the dishes in the sink.

Tell your friends the truth.

Suck up to your sound engineer and your sub coordinator.

Be the person you want to be.

Double space rough drafts.

Don’t yuck other people’s food.

Sing hard, it feels better. Bad singing never killed anyone.

Family first.

Share all recipes freely.

What I Needed to Hear

These are some of the quotes from my friends, that I saved on my old Facebook Quotes page. I like to read them when I’m feeling desolation. These quotes represent times when someone said exactly the right thing, and reminded me who I was.

These are just the ones I had the presence of mind to record in my Facebook Quotes; there are others that I didn’t manage to record for posterity. No particular order.

“What gift are you going to give him? What gift are you going to give my friend?!” Marco

“They take you back.” Josh

“Perfect people suck.” Jim

“Nah, you’re not evil.” Shawn

“All is forgiven, friend.” Bryant

“Fear is false.” Amber

“You’re an honorary Aussie already – drinking like a fish, taking the micky out of people, and giving your mate shit – you’re on your way mate!” Nigel

“Hey you know what, I said it wrong, I won’t be proud of you one day, I am already.” Leo

“Your writing makes me jealous that I didn’t wake up at 6 am and do laundry.”  Evan

“You love yourself when you do music.” Shawn

Long Beach Adventure

I don’t blog enough anymore.  I end up forgetting details.

Yesterday I met R for breakfast and then drove west on a California Adventure to Long Beach. We didn’t plan it that precisely; the only ideas we had were beach, seafood, Daiso, and an Asian grocery store.

It was early when we left, so we made it to Long Beach after 10:00. We parked at the marina just to get our bearings, and then drove to Daiso, which is ridiculous, but it was fun.

Next we went to San Pedro Fish Market, which was a pretty fun experience. It was a little disorienting and overwhelming so we just split a shrimp tray. Next time I’ll pick out seafood at the market. The customers were Mexican by a vast majority, and a few black families. There were not a lot of Asians there, and if I were to guess it’s because they can probably do it cheaper. Anyway, there were so many Mexicans there, it felt like Mexico, sitting in the sunshine all day and enjoying a beer.

Afterward there was frozen yogurt, and then a quick trip through the Museum of Latin American Art. The gift shop lady mis-identified me as Indonesian! R was disappointed that the entire museum was some prints, as it was an exhibition called Gráfica América. There was also a section where patrons were invited to participate in a diversity flag, and we ended up chatting for a while with the artists Chiachio and Giannone, who were super nice, and very interested in us. I wish I could have contributed to the diversity flag but I couldn’t think of anything to write. I regret not asking them for a selfie.

We got coffee at a place called Rose Park Roasters. It was good enough that I bought beans.

After that was a trip to H-Mart, and I found my favorite spicy peanuts and bought some kangkong 空心菜. Our final stop was at a Zankou Chicken. I had a falafel plate. It was delicious. That’s another restaurant where you see people from a lot of different ethnicities. Mediterranean food is good; God bless the Armenians.

After that it was non-stop back to the desert. I declared R to be the DJ and subsequently did carpool karaoke for the rest of the two hour drive. It probably weirded out R but I can always make other friends.

Four Days Back in Seattle

We have a nine day break in February; I like to call it Black History Month Break. On Friday night I drove to Vegas, and by Saturday night I was back in Seattle.  I was really bummed that H and K were out of town, but they were gracious enough to let me use their apartment and a car!

I was joined on this adventure by my coworker R, who shares my love of getting the heck out of the desert. R stayed in the guest room and joined me on all of my fun Seattle adventures.

It’s already fading from my memory, so here’s a sloppy list of stuff we did rather than a coherent narrative.

While I was taking care of some business, R made his way to the Space Needle, the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum, the Monorail, Westlake Center (including Daiso!).

There’s more stuff, and if it comes to me, or if R reminds me, I’ll add it to this list.  Some of the stuff on my list was new to me, but most of it was my normal life. Sigh, quality of life.

There was more that I wanted to do, and places that I wanted to take R, but four days is not enough.  Next time there will be Ly’s Doughnuts, karaoke, Sunfish fish and chips…