Twenty Questions With Me

So this is a post purely for fun. Feel free to copy and paste these questions for your own blogs or to ask people you are getting to know. If you resonate with any of these questions or answers, drop me a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

Ok! Let’s go!

1. What’s your favorite way to spend a day off?

Sleeping in and then taking my time getting out of bed to read, watch Tik Tok, etc. Then eat an easy breakfast, get a workout in and do more vegging. Honestly I’ve forgotten what a day out and about feels like that doesn’t involve risking your life because of exposure to pandemic people. Check back with me in a year.

2. What type of music are you into?

I really like everything. Seriously. Country music for the storytelling, my 80s Duran Duran and Euro pop, 60s music, 90s Hip Hop, even the stuff my kids listen to that makes me cringe with the bad words.

3. What was the best vacation you ever took and why?

Paris, France. It was a surreal dream come true. I just never thought I’d be there and then my husband arranged for a day touring the beaches of Normandy and the American cemetery. And since I’m a huge history nerd, I was in heaven. Also Paris is one city that lives up to every bit of the hype. Morocco is a close second. Another surreal place. We watched the sunrise over the Atlas mountains in a hot air balloon. I’m so grateful.

4. Where’s the next place on your travel bucket list and why?

Right now anywhere I can fly to. This is going to sound awful, but Poland to visit Auschwitz. Because of my WWII history nerd self. We were actually booked to go last summer. But then you know, global pandemic.

5. What are your hobbies, and how did you get into them?

Reading, baking, creative stuff like blogging and coloring in my adult coloring book. Yup, I have one. All of those things just came upon me. I don’t really remember a definitive moment that got me to start.

6. What was your favorite age growing up?

I was an 80s child. So, 8-12. That was a great era to be a kid/teen. Toys, TV shows, fashion. It really was fun. I think being a teen in the 90s was a bit of let down.

7. Was the last thing you read?

Currently reading Clanland by Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish from Outlander. Obsessed with that show and of course, Scotland is another must-go for me now.

8. Would you say you’re more of an extrovert or an introvert?

My personality tests actually say I come way down the middle and can go either way. But the older I get, I feel more introverted.

9. What’s your favorite ice cream topping?

Whipped cream and something crunchy.

10. What was the last TV show you binge-watched?

OUTLANDER! Highly recommend. I’m now going back to favorite episodes. Ahhh so good.

11. Are you into podcasts or do you only listen to music?

I love a good podcast. I love listening to them when taking or walk or driving, probably even more than music.

12. Do you have a favorite holiday? Why or why not?

I don’t. I’m actually not even all that into Christmas to be honest. I don’t like how hyped you get leading up to one and then the crushing let down and brutal return to routine life when it’s over.

13. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Gosh–I’d get sick of only one food like that. I need variety.

14. Do you like going to the movies or prefer watching at home?

I prefer watching at home to be honest.

15. What’s your favorite sleeping position?

On my left side.

16. What’s your go-to guilty pleasure?

Watching Tik Tok videos. I’ll never make one though.

17. In the summer, would you rather go to the beach or go camping?

Beach!! All day every day! I’m a water baby and love swimsuits and being in water.

18. What’s your favorite quote from a TV show/movie/book?

“Whats-a happening, hot stuff?” Sixteen Candles–but honestly there are so many gems from that one.

19. How old were you when you had your first celebrity crush, and who was it?

Seven or eight. Bruce Lee when I saw him in Enter the Dragon–was loitering around the big kids.

20. What’s one thing that can instantly make your day better?

A relaxing, soothing massage.

Well, there you have it! I’ll probably do this again from time to time. So post your own questions to me if you want!

Protect Our Asian-American Community

A week ago, my niece sent me an Instagram screenshot of my favorite bubble tea spot in the area. Bubble tea: If you know, you know. Anyways, she told me that Kung Fu Tea in Columbia, Maryland had been looted and vandalized along with two other Asian-owned businesses in the same block. And all of this happened on the Lunar New Year, or Chinese New Year. Kung Fu Tea is literally a homing beacon to me—it calls me to it at least once a week. It’s a spot that people of every nationality imaginable patronize in our city, and we have collectively kept it alive even during this pandemic. The other two establishments that were hit are also never at a loss for business. These places are as much a part of the community as any other spot.

This is just one more incident of racist, idiotic violence against a community in a rash that has swept the nation for many months. Is this new?

Of course not. Chinese workers built our railroads, in case anyone is unclear on that. But do you think they were treated with even a smidgeon of respect for a job that literally linked the entire nation for the growth of commerce and settling all 50 states? No, they were barred from nearly all aspects of life in America, hence the growth of Chinatowns in basically every major city in the country.

Did you know that Japanese immigrants were not allowed to become United States citizens until 1952? It was not until 1965 that the ban on immigration from Japan and other Asian countries was lifted. You of course are well familiar with Japanese Americans being incarcerated in camps during the war—losing their property and livelihood—which some never regained. All this while entire squads of Japanese American soldiers still fought for the United States while sending letters home to families living in squalid wooden sheds in the most desolate and unwelcoming places the country could find for them.

None of this racism, marginalization, and violence is new. Indeed, for any non-White American, encounters with racism in its many vile and disgusting forms is a part of our story.

But just as all Americans and friends of Americans who abhor racism in totality have spoken up for other groups, we have to speak out and expose all perpetrators of crimes against Asian-Americans from coast-to-coast. Incidents have indeed ratcheted up due to the pandemic and the small-minded notion that harming an Asian person will suddenly eradicate the virus and bring back the ‘Murica of yesterday.

I mean really. What kind of low-life idiot clearly lacking brain cells feels like these acts of stupidity somehow make them more powerful in their sad assertion of white supremacy? You know, because attacking elderly Asian people is a sign of strength.

To me, it’s pointless to attempt to sway the misled viewpoints of people like this. Physically harming someone’s grandma or grandpa? Randomly beating up on Asians walking down the street. Vandalizing and looting Asian places of business? Yeah, you’re accomplishing so much. Don’t worry, you’re Medal of Freedom is coming in the mail. Please.

So, here’s what we can do:

Support Asian American businesses. In the United States in 2021 if you aren’t familiar with Chinese, Korean, Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese, etc., food, please send me a picture of the giant rock you live under. For the rest of us, indulge all your noodles, sushi, pho, pad thai, cravings. And get all the bubble tea you want with my blessings.

Seek out Asian owned spots in your town and give them some business. If you’ve got an H-Mart or some Asian market in your area, go get your produce from there—it’s cheaper, fresher, and loaded with more variety than your regular grocery store. And if you’ve always wanted to try out some Asian recipes at home, you simply must go to the source.

Speak out. Don’t stand for stupid jokes and stereotypical remarks from anyone in our circles—family included. Literally tell people to stop being idiots. And walk away.

If you see something, say something (and do something). I know this can be a risky one. Because obviously the folks being cruel to people of other races aren’t right in the head. But you can quickly come to the aid of persons being harmed and help them move quickly to safety, draw attention from others around you, or flat out walk up with your phone in hand and 911 dialed, letting the dummy know you’re not playing. Whatever you can do, do it. Don’t just walk away feeling bad, or worse, indifferent.

Collectively, we can stand together to be a voice for people who need us. There are more good people in this country that aren’t wackadoo crazy (even with the events of January 6 and Ted Cruz in Cancun) than you might  believe. Sometimes we all need a push to have the courage to do what’s right. But by being that person who steps out, your example just might be giving someone else the strength to join you. And in the end, it will make a difference.

Pure as Purel

Purity culture is a term that refers to a movement, if you will, born of the 90s in evangelical Christian circles, though certainly not limited to them. This movement, which completely ignores LGBTQ individuals, took special aim at trying to return girls and young women to the days where females were judged good or bad based on chastity. Plainly put, the job of a good female was to remain a virgin until her wedding night, and during her growing up years to maintain modesty and decorum in dress and behavior at all times. Now this is also something most patriarchal cultures outside of religion hold at a high premium—a daughter whose marriageability is dependent on her “unsullied” past and innocence in the ways of sexuality.

In the United States, many Christian denominations take purity culture to all kinds of levels—father/daughter balls where a young girl publicly pledges the keeping of her virginity until marriage, to her father in exchange for a purity ring to be surrendered on her wedding day (a bit creepy if you ask me). There were books (who remembers I Kissed Dating Goodbye? Yeah, that author has rethought that project since), conferences (where teens who’d done the deed cried in public confessions in sports arenas), pacts between groups of young girls in their church youth classes, purity pledge cards, etc.

Essentially, purity culture taught girls that chastity before marriage was a holy ideal that was to be valued above everything else. EVERYTHING else.

Is it bad to remain a virgin until marriage? No, of course not. The truth is, going that route is 100% effective in preventing unwanted pregnancy, contracting SDIs, and saving oneself emotional and self-worth issues (especially for those not mature enough to handle a sexual relationship). However, that idea isn’t as commonly accepted as it once was, thus society has indeed moved the goal posts. And it’s because of that shift that purity culture was born, but here’s how it does damage.

  1. Purity culture puts an unfair amount of responsibility on the female alone. On a foundational level, it asserts that the female body exists solely to please a man. Thus, a young woman is pretty much a temptress whose physical beauty and “parts” for lack of a better word, must be guarded at risk of bringing shame upon herself, her family, and her faith, should she “slip.” The role of the male in all this places them as nothing more than hungry fiends ready to pounce, and a “good” girl is always in defense mode.
  2. It breeds a crushing atmosphere of guilt, shame, and fear; almost certainly guaranteeing hypocrisy and disillusionment.
  3. It places all sense of self-worth on sexuality and virginity, so that if those things are compromised, a person amounts to nothing. Anyone heard the chewed-up piece of gum analogy? Lots of young women even today have been shown a lovely, fresh piece of gum. But when the gum is chewed and spat out, they are asked if anyone would want that used gum. Girls who have sex before marriage are chewed pieces of gum.
  4. It warps a person’s concept of being loved and valued by God just as they are, and in an ironic way, blames God. How? For a group of people who believe firmly in the flawless creation of humanity by a master designer God, the female body appears to be a problem. In its beauty and alluring nature, God, it turns out, made something no more than a troublesome, loaded weapon.
  5. Purity culture provides fertile ground for low self-esteem and mental health issues. When shame, guilt, and fear are primary motivators all connected to a physical body, how exactly are young women (and men) supposed to transform into well-adjusted marriage partners with healthy attitudes toward sexuality?
  6. It can push forward a completely warped version of the female body to the point where girls are so ashamed of what is natural, they will not seek medical help for issues that arise.
  7. It can actually feed into rape culture, by causing a young person to feel that their actions or dress sent “messages” that got them what they “deserved.” Wearing a short skirt? She asked for it. This goes dangerously further in that a young person may feel so ashamed of their perceived failure they stay silent, failing to see sexual assault for what it really is: an act of violence and dominance by a sick person.

I think many parents can agree on wanting their children to remain safe from disease, feel emotionally secure and confident, and enter parenthood on their own terms at the time that is right for them according to their personal values. But what is so important is to teach kids to see that the responsibility for treating oneself with the utmost respect lies on both boys and girls, however they identify. Full autonomy over their bodies is their right. And right up there with that is the need to reinforce the truth that the beauty a person possess’ inside and out can’t be removed by losing one’s “purity.”

It is a tough world out there. And we do well to be careful, discerning, and smart in our decisions. But there are better ways to help young people make smart choices for themselves that do that don’t meld fear mongering with emotional, spiritual, and mental manipulation.

Tok Around the Clock

When everything started shutting down last March, Tik Tok was barely on my radar in terms of preferred social media. Tik Tok was decidedly my high school aged son’s thing. But one year later, 40-something moms have arrived! Ok they are there, but that’s not the point of this post. I must preface this by saying while I do have an account, I only have one so that I can like and make comments (always affirming, I don’t do that mean trolling crap). You will never see me in videos of my own creation. That is my promise to you. But for all you Tik Tok creators, keep doing you! BECAUSE I LOVE IT!    

Almost a year into quarantine, Tik Tok has become a part of my life. That’s right. I’m saying it. And while my family thinks I have an addiction to it and can’t control myself, you tell me. Does someone who is addicted designate a specific time of day to look at Tik Toks, then and only then, without interrupting the flow of the day to “cheat” the schedule? Yeah, I thought so. I do set aside the time after I log off work for the day and before I have to cook dinner, as Tik Tok Wind Down time.

Sure, back in March 2020, Tik Tok was a place to find families doing all those dance challenges (Savage anyone?). And yeah, they were pretty funny and nice escape from mess 2020 was quickly becoming at that time.

But over the course of the summer, the lead up to the elections in November and through to now, Tik Tok evolved from this kind of silly social media platform to a legitimate space for learning just about anything. Thanks to the algorithm, Tik Tok is pretty good and feeding me content that I actually care about (Nope, I have not found myself in Trump Tok, thank you Lord). Of course, algorithms are determined by the level of interaction one has with specific accounts (at least that’s how I understand it), so what I’m shown is pretty predictable if you have any sense of my interests.

That said, I’d like to share some of my favorite Tik Tok creators, whom I follow for a variety of interests they address. After several of my more serious posts, I thought lightening up to share some great accounts to check out would be a good thing.

So herewith is my collection of Tik Tok that is more than just pandemic entertainment.

Food

This category has a two-fold purpose. Easy and tasty recipes (got my best Shawarma Bowls recipe from Tik Tok) and DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) spots to check out. When there is nothing to do besides go for a drive to pick up takeout, recs from people in the know are extremely helpful. It also makes for great exploration of your locale.

Italian food the way Italian people make it in Italy. Nuff said.
A foodie from Cornell University who knows his way around a kitchen–both at home with his parents and on a budget at school.
Her recipes are delicious! She also seems to live a pretty charmed life in the hills of LA. Fun to watch, fun to cook.
Come for the Chai (chai means tea. stop ordering chai tea lattés. you’re only saying “tea tea lattés.) stay for the hope.
Where ever you live, someone has an account about food treasures in your zone.
This DMV foodie has the deets on great spots to try. (I was so tempted to say deets on eats!)

Wellness

These are actual board certified medical and nutritional professionals who dispense real science and logic. No, they aren’t there to diagnose your issues online. But you can learn a lot from their content which has proven to be super helpful to me, personally.

A registered dietitians with real facts on good nutrition and listening to your body. Love her!
Another fab RD who knows what she’s talking about. She also has fun with TT trends. Don’t judge.
After 45 years on this planet as a female, this OB/GYN is literally the one who told me things I never knew. 100% recommend her page.

Feeding the Mind

Politics, history, current culture, faith. These are creators provide necessary content for today.

If you don’t know Quentin, get to know him. A follower of Christ who walks the walk and gives you straight talk on politics and doing the right thing.
He’s intro’d himself as that pastor from Oklahoma who voted for Biden. He doesn’t mince words about what it means to authntically follow Christ and how that influences voting and life.
It’s that type of stuff that makes great conversation starters and helps you remember there is still good in the world.
Fascinating insights on American politics, culture, and history from someone outside the U.S. who knows what she’s talking about.

For Fun

These creators just make me laugh, smile, and say “whoa.” There are a lot of them out there to discover, but these are favorites.

This woman lives on an island near the north pole where polar bears roam around and there is no light for four months out of the year. Her page is just cool.
This child and her mom are adorable. Both have recently gone internet-famous for morning affirmations they do together, which we all could benefit from repeating.
His guitar playing is sooooo good. He also made to Jimmy Fallon for playing background Uke music while his brother got busted by his mom. Very cool content.
Last, but not least, Meg, the South Asian student who’s delivery and unabashed accent as the best! Shaddap! #IYKYK

So there you have it! If Tik Tok brightens your day during these very tough days, don’t be ashamed! Right now, to keep laughing and learning is the best we can do.

When People Say “I Don’t See Color”

I don’t see color.”

Really? That’s sad. Really sad. So, you don’t notice a bright crimson cardinal flitting through avocado-green leaves on a spring day? You can’t tell the difference between MAC Ruby Woo and Russian Red? Was your wedding dress purple when you thought it was champagne? Or if you are very light complected and after hours and hours of cooking yourself in the blazing sun, you have no idea that your efforts have only made you an angry shade of dusty rose as opposed to the sun-kissed bronze you’ve been working for (Also, don’t do it. Embrace your color—or lack of—before you get skin cancer and wrinkles)?

So, when you see a person of color do you fail to see the beautiful skin tones in every shade from onyx to café au lait? Because if that’s really the case, you live a very sad, bland, and boring existence. Or you have a medical condition that must be addressed (please address it). Because in pretending to see the world in muted shades of gray you fail to see something that is so blatantly diverse, it is literally popping with striking varieties of color everywhere you look.

I get what is trying to be said with those words. But here’s why that statement is not only false, it’s really not helpful.

Saying you don’t see color denies the color of a person and actually upholds racism because that notion erases who they are. (https://www.oprahmag.com/life/relationships-love/a32824297/color-blind-myth-racism/). I can hear the “But Dr. King wanted a world where his children would be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin, so I teach my children to see people for what they are and not what color they are.” I know what Dr. King said. And this is true—every human being should be regarded for who they are rather than what they look like. But Dr. King wasn’t talking about disregarding the Blackness of his children or the Brownness and Whiteness of their friends.

It’s perfectly ok to notice a person’s skin color and/or ethnicity or to even notice the variations in a person’s outward appearance to ask about their ethnic background. That should be noticed, and it should be acknowledged. It’s all good provided your noticing of and asking questions regarding that comes from a place of kindness and genuine interest in the person as a human being (and if the questions sounds ignorant, you can apologize), and of course, is not inappropriate.

To acknowledge that a fellow human being is a different color than you or has a unique look about them is vitally important. It affirms the beauty in the unique background that person comes from, whether because they hail from a certain part of the world or because they are a gorgeous mix of several parts of the world. I believe human beings are uniquely created beings, not colorless souls bopping around this planet. Their race or blending of races is intrinsically a part of who they are. You can’t dismiss that in hopes that by professing to not notice skin color you are doing a person some holy favor. You are only diminishing one of the most important parts of what makes them great.

Listen, “having racist thoughts does not make you a racist but failing to question your racially-based assumptions does.” (https://www.rd.com/article/why-you-should-stop-saying-i-dont-see-color/). You notice when you enter a room and, in the people, represented there are lots of colors that are different from yours. And that can cause you to make assumptions about where you are, what you are there for, and what the people surrounding you are really like. If you are doing that, you need to address it. Because denying that shows you are actually working harder to look away from a piece of someone’s humanity over anything else. And that’s not right.

See the color. Acknowledge it. Embrace it. Endeavor to understand all that it represents. And most of all, respect it.

You do see color.