JP’s Starter Ukulele Buying Guide

My ukulele

Congratulations!  You’ve decided to become a ukulele player! I hope your experience is as easy and fun as mine is.

Stage One:  The True Beginner’s Starter Instrument

The first thing you have to do is beg, borrow, or steal a ukulele.  Make sure it’s a real one; a soprano, concert, tenor, or baritone ukulele; not a toy one.  That’s important.

If you can’t get a free ukulele, buy yourself a beginner ukulele. Don’t spend a lot of money; this is not your forever ukulele. You might be one of the people that buys one and doesn’t practice, never finds joy, and leaves their instrument buried in the closet.  Don’t spend more than USD $60.

I recently recommended this one to my cousin for her daughter (my lovely niece); it’s nice looking, inexpensive (USD $50), and comes as a kit with case and a tuner, among other things.  It’s also a respectable brand; if and when my lovely niece reaches stage two below, she will be able to sell or regift it.

I also recommended this one to my friend C; she was so happy with it that she went and learned a song right away.  It’s also nice looking, a cheerful color; equally inexpensive, sold as a kit with case and tuner.  It’s the same respectable brand.  Also, it is hard plastic, which makes it water resistant and a good choice for situations where you might want a more durable instrument, such as school or travel.  I’ve played this instrument before; I was very pleasantly surprised at how nice it felt and how great it sounded.  It comes in other colors as well. When C goes on to stage two below, she can sell or regift this instrument as well; alternatively, she could keep it as her travel instrument.

It would be great to start your ukulele career with a tuner and case.  You will also need a phelps screwdriver, to tighten the screws on the tuning pegs, so that they don’t slip.  You’ll also need a teacher, a ukulele mentor, or beginner book.  You might be able to find some great beginner resources online as well.

Here’s some things you should learn in stage one:  how to tune with a tuner, how to strum, how to hold your instrument so that your left wrist is straight, how to do some basic chords.  How to find some chords you like online.

Practice every day, or as much as you can.  It will be a little awkward at first; the more you practice and the more you talk to mentors, the better and more comfortable you’ll become.

Stage Two: A Serious Instrument for a Serious Musician

By this point, you have a handful of songs memorized.  You’ve practiced so much that your hands and ears have grown accustomed to your starter ukulele.  Plan to spend USD $200-$500.  If you spend more than that, it’s your business.  The instrument you pick out might be your forever ukulele, but… I’m just warning you… it probably won’t be your last; so don’t spend too too much.

I’m not going to give a lot of guidance at this point, you’ll have your own ideas, and your teacher and/or mentors will help shape your decisions.  The important thing is that now that you know you’re a real ukulele player (and not one of those people that buys an instrument and buries it in the closet) and you know a bunch of basic chords, your ears and your hands will have opinions about what your stage two ukulele will be.  Go to a store with a bunch of ukuleles on the wall, like Dusty Strings in Seattle or Boulevard Music in Culver City; Hale Ukulele in San Diego. Take a ukulele peer or mentor with you, and play every ukulele in the store; or at least every ukulele that calls to you.  Pick out something nice; this is the ukulele that you’ll play at concerts or too impress other people. It’s probably too nice to take camping with you but it’s the one you’ll want to take on stage with you; the one that will make you happy every day.

Stage Three is a desperate stage of ukulele addiction, where you keep finding more and more beautiful ukuleles that you have to buy.  I’m trying to stay out of stage three; I can’t afford it. You’re on your own. Hope you have a lot of money.

Here are the ukuleles that I’ve bought:

  • My stage one starter was a Kala Makala tenor. I started on this one, learned about chords and strumming. Once I got to stage two, I found myself never playing the starter anymore, so I sold it for $35 to my friend K. I hope it’s a blessing for her. Once I had my first stage two ukulele, my fingers never wanted to play the starter again.
  • My stage two ukulele… my FIRST one, that is… is a mango Magic Fluke, a tenor. I wanted something durable that would sound good and be durable enough to keep in the classroom. I’ve been getting a lot of practice on this one lately because I have to supervise the courtyard at school most mornings.
  • My second stage two ukulele is the chestnut Magic Fluke Flea, a concert.  This is my travel ukulele, I take it with me when I travel so that I never have to skip a day of practice.
  • My third and final ukulele is a classic tenor Lehua. This is the instrument I practice with at home, and it’s the one I’ll use giving a concert.

I don’t need to buy any more ukuleles.  When I hit the Powerball or MegaMillions I might go to U-Space in LA’s Little Tokyo and buy one of those USD $3000 handmade ukuleles that weighs as much as a taco and rings forever.  To be honest I’m coveting that USD $40 sea foam green Waterman that I recommended to C above, but I really have everything I need at the moment.

This post is dedicated to my dear friend Okada sensei, who asked for some guidance on starting a joy-filled, life-long ukulele habit.  頑張って!

Me and Okada Sensei

2018 Mission and Goals

I’m sitting at D’s place in Oakland, CA. C and I flew in to spend New Year’s Eve here and to explore the East Bay a little bit. Dinner at the Shakewell and countdown at The Graduate Bar. Today is the lazy day after; there’s no TV in this apartment, hence no football. There was a threat of dim sum today but threats are not taken seriously anymore.

Resolutions that are easy to make because they’re things I’m kind of already doing:

  • Use less plastic garbage (disposable straws, to-go cups/lids, FLOSS PICKS)
  • Work out with weights
  • Eat a calorie deficit more days than not
  • Pay off my credit card
  • Have strong feet (barefoot, spread toes, no heel strike; train tracks not tight rope)
  • Ukulele every day

Resolutions that I’d love to do but they’re hard to talk about because I’m afraid of failing:

  • Actually write that book; How to become multilingual, a memoire. Language learning tips in the form of narrative story.
  • Write some short stories.
  • Find a job where I can just park for the rest of my career (or for a while at least) and feed my retirement fund. Maybe where I’m at now, maybe the next place, but definitely no more limbo.
  • Get rid of possessions I don’t need to live. Throw out the fat clothes that I’ll never have to go back to.
  • Blog more; language learning, personal journaling, travel, food; whatever, I miss it.
  • Language goal: no new languages this year, actually. Polish/practice on the ones I know.

Skills I’d like to learn/hone; not as a resolution necessarily, but I hope I learn these things before I die:

  • Juggling three objects
  • Manual transmission
  • Writing systems: Japanese katakana, Arabic alphabet, Korean alphabet. I’ve studied these in the past, but I want to learn them for good.
  • Cooking with fire
  • ASL
  • Fingerpicking on ukulele; play melody and harmony at the same time; noodle. I can start by learning the fretboard.

How learn how to do these things?

  • Do all my grading and class planning at work everyday at the office before going home, so that evenings and weekends belong to me?
  • Fit crossfit back into my schedule now that I’m a teacher again?
  • Fill my kitchen with fresh food on Sunday, meal prep for the week, and then finish the week on Saturday with an empty fridge.
  • Do fabulous international travel every summer without going into credit card debt.

Recipe: Crab Pot

Fill the bottom of your biggest, deepest pot with potato chunks.  Big chunky ones.  Peel them or not, whatever. I don’t.

Cut a bunch of raw corn on the cob into two inch wheels.  Quantity: as much corn as you want to eat.

Throw in a peeled onion, sliced in half from pole to pole.  Maybe a whole serrano pepper or two, a jalapeño that you’ve split open.  Whatever.

Put in a layer of clean live Manila clams, medium small is ok. Quantity:  one or two fistfuls per person eating, plus an additional seven or eight fistfuls according to taste.

Put in a layer of clean mussels, medium sized, thin shells, live, preferably from the state of Washington.  Add to that a layer of raw shrimp or prawns. Quantities: you figure it out.

Put a crab or two in whole; live or freshly steamed.  Crack it before it goes in, or crack it hot later, or let people crack their own crab.  I don’t know, do what you think is right.

If the guests are new to eating crab, I’d advise getting the crab steamed at the fish counter and then cracking it when it has cooled. Here’s my standard procedure: pull the head off the body from the rear hinge, rip out the gills and the face and throw them away, separate the claws and crack them mid-segment with the back of your chef’s knife.  Now all that’s left are the legs attached at the body; slice to separate the right and left sides, and then slice to keep the pairs of legs together, attached with knuckle meat. You can crack the meaty segments of the leg with the back of your knife… or not.  Four pairs of legs go into the pot.  Two claws go into the pot.  Crab’s shell goes into the  pot, soup side up.

Dump a bottle of cheap American beer over the seafood and into the pot. Oops, forgot to add dry spices (whatever’s in your spice rack, or whatever spice mix someone brought you from New Orleans).  Dump your spices on top, and then wash in with a cup of water, letting them trickle into the mix.

Put the cover on and then cook it on high or medium high or medium or medium low, whatever. After the beer boils lower heat a little, come back in 10 or 15 minutes, and check to see that shrimps are pink all the way through, clams and mussels are open, corns are soft, and potatoes are tender.

Set the table:  newsprint or butcher paper to cover the table, a bucket for shells, a trivet for your crab pot. Big kitchen spoon to ladle out shellfish. Crusty bread sliced. Don’t get fussy about dishes or napkins or other pendejadas; it’s a crab pot, not a cotillion. Maybe set out some empty rice bowls for the Asians who want to drink the broth and slurp it with their chunks of crusty bread.

If it’s a lot of people eating, maybe you want to pour the seafood into some lasagna dishes for easier access. Tell your guests to start eating immediately, it’s really dumb to let this get cold. Like really, really dumb. Lose respect for people who get distracted and let it get cold. Cut them out of your life.  Inevitably someone will try to get up and serve everybody their drinks, yell at them to sit the hell down and eat it while it’s hot, and remind them that fussing about something other than hot food is some IRRITATING. SHIT. Should have taken care of that before hot food appeared, dummy. Honestly!

What else? Some people put chunks of cooked sausage in to their crab pot; you do you.  People from New Orleans will call it a seafood boil, and people from New England who did the twist at beach blanket parties in the 50s might call it a clam bake.  There will inevitably be someone who doesn’t like seafood; make sure they have some Creamy Jiff and Wonderbread for them.

Spread out some beach blankets and put on some surf rock. Stand next to the beach blankets and do the twist until the sun sets.  After sunset it’s cigarettes and crooners, bonus if you lean on the hood of a Cadillac with someone else’s letterman’s jacket. Wonder if man will ever walk on the moon or if we’ll have visual telephones someday.  Discuss if this beach party could be more fun if you played up some Polynesian stereotypes. Take the shells out to the trash when everyone’s done. Look up at the moon and wonder if some Soviet kids are taking out their crab pot shells, looking up at the same moon.

Slice an apple or an orange for dessert and pass them around on a plate. People will decline the fruit and then take one and eat it, and then take another one. People always think they don’t want fruit, but they do.

You Are Dismissed

You are dismissed

When your last class is over and you dismiss the students and tell them to GET OUT and you pull your bowtie open and then grow to the size of a five story apartment block, bursting through the science labs, the art room, through the spanish mission roof tiles and you start stepping through the crumbling building with your horned, green-scaled feet and unleashing murderous window-piercing reptilian screams and finally gathering speed, running through the sleepy town crushing each building as if they were paper nests in a meadow of tall grass, leaving footprints of destruction, death, sirens, burst fire hydrant geysers, and gas mains exploding into hot jets of flame; mountains of ruins where your armored tail swept city blocks aside as you turned to check your bearings, the smell of exhaust fumes and freedom.

Recipe: Spaghetti and a can of clams

Spaghettii Can of Clams

Step one:  put a pot of pasta water on to boil. 

Step two:  get stuff ready.  Prep your Italian parsley, mandolin your garlic, crush your whole black pepper corns in you mortar and pestle (if you’re not using dried chile flakes).  Open your can of clams; don’t lose a single drop of that clam juice.

Tell your dinner companions to wash their hands and set the table. NOW. Scream at them if they try to find something else to do.

Step three:  cook stuff. When your water boils, salt it with a fistful of salt, enough to make the water taste salty. Drop in your spaghetti. In a saucepan, toast the black pepper or chile flakes, add more olive oil than you think is necessary, and then drop in the garlic and clam juice (but not the clams).  Simmer it on medium low or whatever.

Step four:  marry it all together. When the spaghetti is al dente, pull it out of the water with some tongs or a spider strainer together and drop it into the saucy saucepan, along with a ladle or two of pasta water. (You’re done with that pasta water now, use it to boil something else). In the saucepan, turn the flame up to high and start stirring.  This is a good time to add a little more salt, if your water wasn’t salty enough.

So now you’ve got a saucepan full of all your ingredients over a screaming hot flame. Scream at your companions to sit down at the damn table. They might try to get everybody’s drink order, you tell them SIT THE /F/ DOWN and wait for their pasta.

Your job is to stir and reduce until that liquid has condensed into a thick film of a sauce.  Keep stirring, pulling the pan off the flame occasionally and blowing on it, releasing clouds of steam.  Keep stirring.  Keep stirring.  Stir until the sauce clings to the spaghetti; to the point that when your spatula scrapes the bottom of saucepan, the sauce is so thick that the spot where you scraped stays dry. Now drop the clams and half of the parsley into saucepan together and give the whole thing a final stir. Get it all nice and distributed.

Step five: dish it up.  Lift the finished spaghetti out of the saucepan with the tongs and lower it into the serving dishes, turning your plate with your free hand so that the spaghetti pile falls into a tall twist.  Finish the dish with a drizzle of expensive olive oil and a pinch of Italian parsley.

Tell your dining partners to eat NOW. If they do something stupid like try to start a prayer or something, slap them on the hand and tell them they should have prayed two minutes ago.  It is DISRESPECTFUL to let this get cold.  If they complain that it’s too hot to eat right away, GOOD, you have done your job.  They have to eat it at the exact moment that it’s tolerable for them to eat, and not after.

If they let your pasta get cold, ask them why they don’t respect your effort to get hot food in front of them.  Make a note to yourself never to make this dish for them again.  Let them reheat a slice of pizza or some garbage, they don’t deserve hot spaghetti with a can of clams. Don’t waste your effort on someone who lets your hot food get cold; give up on them.  Peanut butter and jelly next time.  Cold rice and ketchup. Soggy bowl of Cheerios.  Who cares, they don’t know how to act.

For Delia.

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.