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I’ve been noticing very recently that it’s much easier for me to clump all of my thoughts into lists. I enjoy shortening my thoughts & ideas into short blurbs, rather than write while whole posts about nothing. I’m not that clever. Hey, I’m not Jerry Seinfeld. (*chuckles*)

  • I love apples. Fuji apples are my favorite type of apples, but I especially love them when they are cold, crisp, & juicy. Yeah, I love to eat juicy apples. I’ve been eating apples more often lately, mostly because my mom likes to use apples as a food offering to her Buddhist shrine whenever she says her Buddhist prayers. We always have a good amount of apples in our kitchen leftover from my mom’s weekly prayer offerings. I especially enjoy eating the apples after my mom has already used them as an offering to her mini Buddhist shrine. I kind of feel like the apples have been blessed by the Buddhist statues after they’ve had their share, which to me, makes them taste even sweeter.
  • Piggy-backing off the previous bullet point, I don’t think I’m a strict, devout Buddhist. My mom isn’t really one either. Well, she’s more of a semi-devout Buddhist. She performs many rituals & prayers to her carefully displayed shrine in our home. She even believes in the power & energy of carefully selected Buddhist relics. However, she does not regularly visit a temple or celebrate much of yer Buddhist holidays. I kind of, sort of loosely follow the parts of Buddhism my mom teaches me that is important to our family. Like my mom, I say a few prayers, I light incense, I provide offerings to our home shrine, but I don’t do much other important or significant rituals associated with it. I wouldn’t call myself devout to any one religion. My mom grew up in a strict Christian family before she converted to Buddhism along with her siblings. My dad was raised Catholic through & through…even going so far as to sign up for the priesthood, before dropping out to get married early & start a family. Neither of them pushed any sort of religion on any of their children,  but I’ve been loosely following a few customs of the Buddhist religion because it interests me & brings me closer to my mom.
  • I have an easier time writing my blog posts when I’m at my local big box coffee shop. Today I’m writing in a different coffee shop location. I hate this location, but at least it gives me a change of scenery from the coffee shop down the street from my house. The coffee shop I’m sitting at is right next to a high school. Once school lets out, all of the super annoying teenagers come swarming in to get their stupid frappy, iced berry, sugary sweet drinks. They come in packs & annoy the masses with their obnoxious jibber-jabber. Like I said, I hate coming to this location because it’s always crowded with annoying teenagers, but I need a change of scenery from my usual blog writing place. At least this place is still very close by to my house, & the baristas here don’t muck up my order. At the big box coffee shop next to my house, the only thing they get right is the spelling of my name on the cup. Other than that, they’re always forgetting one thing or another, like forgetting my drink altogether, or forgetting my food order until I’ve been standing at the counter for well over 5 minutes. The baristas always apologize for the mistake, & always mention that they recognize me as a regular customer, but every time I go there, they always treat me like I’m a stranger, even when it’s the same barista serving me a few days in a row.
  • I’m so incredibly excited, chuffed to bits, to be going to London next month. I wish I could speed up the date of my departure, but I also don’t want time to pass by so fast. Jian & I have been almost meticulously planning out all of the things we want to do & places we want to eat at or drink a cocktail at, but we also want to let things happen naturally. Before most of our major vacations, we tend to carefully plan out all the little details of our itinerary, but more often than not we end up doing things spontaneously, like on the fly. We talk & talk & talk, make up spreadsheets & checklists, I make up little  travel scrapbooks (with my amateur Photoshop skills), but mostly make up stuff as we go along our trips. I guess that’s the fun part, finding lots of random, local things that isn’t written in some stuffy, glossy guide book. Everyday our list of things to do & eat grows & grows. We only have 7 days to explore London, & we want to make the most of our time there. I want this adventure to begin, but not to end too soon.
  • In a couple of weeks I’m going to a concert I’d never imagine going to for a second time in my life. My all-time favorite band, SAVE FERRIS, has reunited after nearly 20 years & is coming back with a vengeance, releasing a brand new album & doing a U.S. promo tour. SAVE FERRIS was the very first band I ever saw in concert back in 1998. They were performing in a relatively small music venue alongside a very new, not-so-well-known band called Incubus, who was merely the opening act for SAVE FERRIS. Also co-headlining the concert was my other favorite band Goldfinger. That concert changed my life. I had told my parents I was having a sleepover at a friend’s house, & since she lived on my street & my parents were cool with her parents, they totally bought it. Luckily for my friends & I, the parents of the friend were totally easy-going & cool & allowed us to stay out late for a concert. I was so obsessed with SAVE FERRIS that I got a fully autographed poster & a concert tee which I wore almost every day. One time my cousin went to one of their concerts too & was able to get the bassist of the band to write me a birthday greeting on a piece of paper which I framed & kept next to my bed. I’ve got all this memorabilia tucked away somewhere in the far outer reaches of my storage closet, & one day I might take it out to reminisce. For now, I’m going to enjoy this upcoming concert, listening to songs new & old. I never really thought I’d ever see this band in concert more than once, but I was able to see them perform at the Van’s Warped Tour that same year back in 1998. Seeing them live for a third time in my life is just blowing my mind away. I can’t wait!!

Today’s song of the day:

“Wasting Time” by Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats

  • I love how my local big box coffee shop plays a good mix of eclectic music. They can effortlessly transition from the classic Björk song “It’s Oh So Quiet” to Credence Clearwater Revival’s  popular song “Fortunate Son”.
  • Sometimes I love the autumn & winter seasons in my area because the weather tends to get very cloudy, & then I won’t have to always lug my awkwardly shaped sunglasses & its bulky case around in my purse.
  • However, I dislike the fact that once the weather starts to get colder, my skin rises to its optimum peak of itchiness, the height of its itch-factor. I could slather on 30 layers of extra-strength lotion every day. I could drink a hundred gallons of water for hydration. I could wrap my entire body in kitchen plastic saran wrap. I could do anything short of shedding my outer layer like a molting snake, but my skin would still itch like hell.
  • I often wish I could use a slim, compact purse. My purses are generally oversized & very often get in the way. I am either bumping into things when I’m inside a shop, or I am accidentally hitting people with the back of my purse.
  • Follow up thought: I carry way too much little things in my purse. I’m always worried that I will need something while I’m on the road & am not able to stop at a drugstore or convenience store. So I carry lots of little emergency items in my purse, which weighs my purse down heavily.
  • However, I’m even more worried that if I start eliminating things from my purse, then that’ll be right at the time when I need that specific item. ( Example: taking the emergency Tylenol out of my bag, & then immediately getting a headache in the car.)
  • Final purse thoughts: I am self conscious about carrying such a large purse, even though it was a fashion trend at one point within the last decade or so. I worry that I might look like an uncoordinated bag lady.
  • I recently started re-listening to the music I listened to back in high school. I dug up my old CDs that I bought in high school, & I uploaded the music onto my home computer. I have rediscovered my passion for music, & rekindled my love for the same music genres I loved back in the 1990s.
  • On that note, I have been rediscovering two genres of music I fell in love with in high school, & have fallen in love with those types of music all over again. I have rekindled my flames of passion for PUNK & SKA music, & I couldn’t be happier.
  • I can’t believe it’s already the month of November. Before we know it, I’ll be back in Anaheim, California, celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday with my beloved nephew & niece at Disneyland yet again.

Today’s song of the day

“Mellow Out” by Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats


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It’s raining again today, the first sign of Spring. Today I’m visiting one of the bustling neighborhoods of the city. I’m sitting at a small café among the quiet students, budding artists, & chatty businessmen heartily discussing work over a cup of coffee & a well-worn laptop.

It’s drizzling outside, not quite a shower or a mist, but just enough to make use of my orange umbrella. I am nestled cozily in the warmth of the small café, just casually gazing out of the lead (or whatever metal) framed window. It brings such joy to be enveloped in the comfort of a warm, dry bubble…all while the world outside of this bubble soaks up the dampness falling from the sky. “Ahhh, this is the good life,” I note to myself. This IS the good life indeed, with my toasted chocolate croissant & hot cup of French Roast coffee (add sugar & half-&-half).

Amongst all that is happening around outside, it is very relaxing & therapeutic to take a well-deserved break every now & again just to recharge one’s soul. Just take a breather. How long? Five minutes? Ten minutes? One hour? Who cares! As long as you’re having fun while doing it. Just a bit of a caution: Contents may be delicious while served in a To-Go cup. Cheers!

Oh!!! Today’s song of the day:
More Today Than Yesterday
Artist: Charles Earland
Album: The Almighty Burner

For the first time, since the last time… (from movie: Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist)

It’s been a long time since I last visited China, which was in 2003, and I just recently returned from a 2 week vacation in Shanghai.  This experience was so much more different from any of the other times I have visited China.  I had no parents who could hold my hand every step of the way & fluently translate everything for me, no comfort bubble of being surrounded by my fellow classmates from some stuffy summer school program, & I did not attend some cheap-ticket fast-paced tour group with matching t-shirts either.  I traveled all the way to Shanghai with only my companion by my side & a handy little guidebook to help me navigate through the main districts.

One valuable resource I was extremely fortunate to have while I was there was my very wonderful cousin and her husband.  My cousin and her husband resides in Shanghai, and I really enjoyed spending time with her while I was vacationing.  Also, I was very excited for her to meet my companion in person.  My cousin was a very valuable resource since she & her husband each own & drive their own cars in Shanghai, so they were able to take us to various local places we wouldn’t have otherwise known about.

I’ve visited Shanghai a couple of times before, but I was always traveling with my parents, & my mom can speak fluent Mandarin & partial Shanghainese.  So it was easy to get around and have my mom do all the talking and translating for us.  Plus, that also meant that we would have lots of family obligations since my mom still has relatives living in Shanghai (hence my cousin).  With all of those family events going on…I was always being shuffled & chauffeured around by my relatives & had no time to go out & see things for myself.  I’ve also been to Beijing as well, but that was for a student youth program, & it’s hard to explore on your own when the head teacher/instructor has each day’s itinerary mapped out for you.  All the students pile onto a tour bus & we get shuffled from one small town to the next for a small blip of sightseeing & Kodak moments.

Traveling with my companion, no matter where we go to, we like to keep things fresh & not really stick to a strict itinerary.  When we leave our hotel for the day there are only 2 essential items we must have at all times: 1. our cell phones (for emergencies) & 2. a guidebook of the city.  Our guidebook of choice, if it has a matching city, is written by superfuture (called superfuture guide).  This is our favorite guidebook publication because it breaks down each category (eating, shopping, entertainment) by the city’s districts.  Whenever my companion & I travel to Tokyo, we always print out a superfuture guide & bring it with us as if it were our travel bible.  My companion & I love to choose a random destination for the day & just walk around the district & explore with our own eyes.  We were very fortunate that both of us could speak a moderate amount of Mandarin (& my companion can read some Chinese characters), so we were able to get around by ourselves.

On this particular trip, my companion was going to Shanghai for business, & I was tagging along with him.  Every day after work, I’d either meet my companion at the hotel so he could drop off his briefcase, or take the subway & meet him somewhere, & we would spend hours roaming the streets just like the locals.  On his days off, we’d wake up super early & head out for some breakfast & a quick ride on the subway before we hit the mid-morning human traffic jam.  We would often spend our days hopping from one district to another, checking out local shops & small cafes, as well as visiting famous parks & landmarks.  We explored the large conglomerate shopping malls, to the small mom n’ pop shops, to the local bazaar selling those glaringly obvious knockoffs.  We went on an eating spree (every foodie’s dream)…from local cafes & mid-range restaurants, to fancy restaurants, to Hong Kong style snack shops, to fast food joints.  We ate it all…cheap to expensive….& we didn’t care what havoc this was wreaking on our waistlines & digestive tracts.

Overall, this trip was one of the most fun & eye-opening vacations I’ve ever experienced.  I am very grateful to my cousin for being “that someone we know in-town” & for being such a gracious hostess.  Here are some of the highlights of our Shanghai trip:

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