Life is Good

In case you couldn’t tell, I am an extrovert and for the most part, I enjoy and thrive in social situations. Don’t get me wrong. I do need time to recharge and read and be away from people – but in general, I love being around friends and talking to people. I prefer smaller gatherings because they are more conducive to deep and real conversations versus just repeating the same small talk over and over again. However, larger parties can also be fun because there are so many people to talk to (unless I don’t know anyone – that can be a little less fun) and often, that is my only chance to see large groups of my friends together all at the same time. So, bonus points for efficiency.

Anyhow, one of the more difficult aspects of being a SAHM for me is how lonely and isolating it can be. If I don’t make a conscious effort to set up play dates or activities, often the only social interaction I have is from texting my friends or Facebook. (Yes, I really am on Facebook almost every waking minute. Yes, I really do read, like, or comment on almost every thing. Yes, I am aware of how that is kinda sad and desperate. Thanks for noticing.) Otherwise, the only adults I speak with in person on a daily basis are Hapa Papa and my mother. Nothing wrong with them (I do love them very much). I just need more.

Because Hapa Papa is awesome and loves me and wants me to be happy, he consents to me throwing a big party every few months because otherwise, I’ll go crazy. Every year, we throw a big New Year’s Eve party for fellow parents and celebrate the countdown at 6pm because hey, we have kids and we’re tired and we’ll never make it to midnight. Of course, there are the kids’ birthday parties which are fun and an excuse for me to invite my friends over. Occasionally, I throw a July 4th party although this year, I think I’ll pass because we’ll be leaving for Taiwan right after. But by far, my favorite event is our annual Easter Egg Hunt.

When Cookie Monster was fifteen months old, I took him to one of the best events I had ever gone to – our East Bay Asian American Parents’ (EBAAP) Easter Egg Hunt. I recall training Cookie Monster at home. We practiced picking up eggs and putting them in his Easter basket and that served us well for the actual event. I saw some old friends and their kids, Cookie Monster had a great time, we got some awesome photos and videos, and I was amazed at how well-run and fun the event was.

The next year, I realized that our annual LA/SD trip would force us to miss the EBAAP event and I was incredibly disappointed. I didn’t want Cookie Monster to miss out on an egg hunt so a few friends and I got together on one of our Mandarin Mommies play dates and threw a small egg hunt in our backyard. It was adorable. Last year, since several of us had more kids and once again, our trip would force us to miss the EBAAP event, I thought, “Why don’t I just put on my own egg hunt?” So, I did.

I blatantly copied all my favorite parts of the EBAAP Egg Hunt and then invited a few families for a BBQ/potluck at a local park and asked everyone to bring twenty eggs per participating kid. I provided another 400-500 eggs just in case people forgot or didn’t have time to bring any. Nothing is worse than going to an egg hunt and getting only a handful of eggs. (Trust me, I know because I took Cookie Monster and Gamera on three or four egg hunts last year and many of them ran out of eggs almost instantly or they had a limit and that was LAME.)

Anyhow, we had so many eggs that the kids got tired of picking them up and just left them on the lawn. We had about sixty people attend and it was a big hit. I decided then and there to have an egg hunt every year until my last kid was too old to enjoy them.

Fast forward to this year. Between inviting Cookie Monster’s preschool class and our Mommy and Me class, in addition to our usual gaggle of friends and some of their friends, we had close to 100 people attend. (After all, you can’t just invite a few people from class. You either invite none or all! Otherwise, that’s just mean.) I can definitively say it was a smashing success!

Even though we had close to 1,000 eggs, this time, the kids descended like a throng of locusts and all the eggs were scooped up within a few minutes. I think it’s because the kids were older and much more efficient. There was plenty of food and drink, pop-up tents and easy-ups, bubble machines, bubbles, T-ball, scooters, bikes, and two playgrounds. I couldn’t believe it was 90% people I knew!

My only regret was that we were so busy having a good time, we neglected to take any pictures of the kids picking eggs! Hapa Papa managed to take a few pics of the scene, but mostly, we dropped the ball and spent all our time running after babies, shoveling food in our mouths, and talking to new and old friends. Fantastic!

Gamera was so tired, she barely finished dinner and fell asleep on the couch by 7:30pm. (That may not be that impressive to those of you with obedient children, but considering she didn’t go to bed until past 10pm the night before, we were thrilled.) I had to take a nap in order to make it through the rest of the afternoon and Hapa Papa passed out around 9pm. Cookie Monster somehow was still standing and only fell asleep at 9:30pm. WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO GET THIS KID TIRED?

Already, I can’t wait for next year.

What’s the Worst that Can Happen?

So, on Monday, I was very nervous about posting my thoughts on SCA5 because quite frankly, it required facts and citations and I’m terrible at those things. I would make a really shitty journalist. There is a reason I was not in one of those majors that required writing multiple term papers. After all, you can cram organic chemistry and wing an exam (albeit, poorly) but the only way out of a ten page term paper is to write a ten page term paper (even with double space).

The other reason I found it hard was because it is such a polarizing topic. I was prepared to be called a race traitor or naive or whatever. In particular, I was worried about alienating my Asian friends who were against the measure. I didn’t want them to think I thought they were bad people or cause any trouble. After all, people are allowed to disagree with me – and when they do, they are not always crazy or insane!

I admit, I didn’t even know what SCA5 was about until I saw a friend post about it. Because I learn a lot about the news and the world through Facebook (I find that my friends are endlessly fascinating sources of information), I wanted to see what SCA5 was all about. Once I did, I realized that I very much wanted to vote for it. However, as I am usually wont to do, I didn’t say anything about it on Facebook because in general, I dislike talking politics because I hate arguing issues (see the first paragraph re: facts).

But, after seeing an ever increasing number of friends posting “No on SCA5,” I just couldn’t stay silent on the matter anymore because I firmly believe that SCA5 is a good thing (just like some of my friends firmly believe that SCA5 is a bad thing). Furthermore, I didn’t want my black and Latino friends to think all Asians were against SCA5 and that I was among that group.

Now, before I started Mandarin Mama, I tended to post solely on neutral things. You know, pictures about my kids, rants about my day, funny comments, etc. I purposely avoided posting anything that would even contain a whiff of the controversial. In fact, I’m one of those people who absolutely HATE changing my profile pic to support things. I think it’s the internet version of peer pressure and refuse to do it even when I agree with the issue. (This is just my personal baggage. I am aware people are perfectly capable of changing their profile pic to support issues for completely valid and non-conforming reasons.)

But after regularly posting my opinions here, I realized I was sick of being “neutral.” I was sick of being afraid what other people would think of me if I actually voiced my opinions. I wanted to be brave. I wanted to have opinions about Real and Important things (even if my two cents were just a mere pip in the surrounding cacophony of voices).

I wanted to step away from fear. Fear that my friends would drop me. Fear that I would look stupid. Fear that I would be wrong in public. Fear that I would muddle facts. Fear that I would actually have to research facts. (Funny enough, that didn’t kill me!) Fear that I would have to write in a different style than I was accustomed to. Fear that I was becoming more and more myself – and if people rejected me, they would be rejecting me versus some carefully crafted version of me.

It is scary to put my thoughts on controversial issues out there – particularly since I keep telling myself that I am bad at research and facts. But you know what I discovered? Thanks to the internet, facts are pretty easy to find and check. Also? I am capable of writing something that is not just “slice of life.” And the best part? My friends are a lot more gracious and a lot less petty than I am.

Grief on the Side

An old co-worker and friend of mine died yesterday morning. He would’ve been 44 in less than a month and leaves behind a wife and two teenage children. Although I knew it was inevitable (he had been in a painful struggle with cancer for a long time), it is still a shock to my system. (Obviously, my grief is nothing compared to his family and closer friends.) 

It’s a mixed bag, right? When people we love and care about die after suffering so much physical pain. On the one hand, we do not want them to be gone – for death seems so final to me (although the thought of a Heaven and him being in it brings me comfort). On the other hand, we do not want to prolong their suffering and pain. So though I am sad he has left us, I am relieved there was an end to his pain.

I must admit though, part of my grief (despite losing a friend who was a person who drew others in with his fun and positive personality – geez, even my attempts to describe him fall so flat, as if reducing him to a caricature of himself) is the thought of this happening to ME. I am sad for his family who are left behind, and I cannot stop thinking about ME. How I am so grateful that this is NOT happening to ME.

I am a selfish ass.

When I consider the possibility of my babies in a life without Hapa Papa, I can’t breathe. Not to mention just the practicality of WHO WILL PROVIDE FOR US? and OMG IT WILL HAVE TO BE ME!

Of course, my mind veers to the practical, daily providence side of things. Because to think too hard or too long of an actual LIFE without Hapa Papa, I just can’t. I feel an ache in the back of my throat and eyes just thinking about all the things that my kids (and by extension, my friend’s kids) will miss and all I want to do is cry.

After I heard the news this afternoon, I just stumbled about, letting my kids zone out on the iPad. All I could think about was how grateful that we were all healthy and alive and that I loved my kids. Of course, fast forward to this evening right before bed when I reached new heights (in terms of volume) of screaming and yelling at Cookie Monster and Gamera (POOR Glow Worm!) and I feel even more like a giant piece of turd.

I don’t know why the juxtaposition of these two events sits so heavily on my heart. I suppose it’s some trite message about how we never know when we’re going to die so we need to cherish the moments we have with our children.

Mostly, I just feel guilt.

But since I already wrote a post on being a monster, we can skip that guilt-fest for now. I think I am just going to chock all that yelling to misplaced grief, stress, and the sad fact of life for the moment. I’ll make better choices tomorrow.

At any rate, I miss my friend. We had somewhat lost touch in the past few years, but that did not dampen my love for him.

Rest in Peace, Nellie. My heart breaks for your wife and two beautiful children. You are with Jesus now and we are without you. Seems a bit selfish of Jesus if you ask me, but that’s just me feeling sad. You were one fucking awesome guy and it sucks that you’re gone. You are loved.