Still processing … life being Asian

“I worry about your Popo going out on her own. I’m glad she’s independent, but also relieved that with the pandemic she doesn’t venture out at all”

“I worry about you too, Mommy, you’re an Asian woman. It’s all so random.”

This is scary shit. I NEVER thought that the anti-Asian sentiment would be a “thing” for my daughter, for my kids to have to deal with, let alone it being arguably worse than when my parents and grandparents made their way into Canada. My kids have explored their Asian heritage for school – the Chinese Exclusion act is part of their Canadian history curriculum. They know of the head tax placed on their great grandfather; the reason for the somewhat fractured family dynamics. For me, micro-aggressions, schoolyard taunts, passive aggressive conversations, verbal slurs are one thing. The new normal in 2021 -random physical assaults and killings in broad daylight? This is civilized society?

It’s always there, you know. I grew up in assimilation mode, following the model established by my father – survival really. Be one with the every day Canadian white person. Don’t stick out, relish in the fact that you don’t have a Chinese accent – take it as a compliment when people call that out. Sometimes I would get the “You look mixed, actually, I can see it….”

I’m a banana – white on the inside, yellow on the out. The racist undertones. Through words, through actions. I am still yellow on the inside. You don’t say anything. You just deal and move on.

My husband made an assumption the other day, “You didn’t experience much racism growing up, did you?” To which I replied, “I haven’t mentioned it, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t felt it. And not just growing up, even in adulthood.” I love my husband, don’t get me wrong. He’s not racist at all. He’s just a white Canadian male. How could he understand or see it? We’ve been together 35 years- it was worth the conversation.

I suppose the fact that I would usually laugh at the “being Asian” jokes in conversation and in social media posts, make it seem like things have always been cool. And for the most part it hasn’t been a big deal. Nowadays, it really bothers me. I can’t look at it in the same way, it’s just not that funny anymore.

When I look back, I get a bit angry. Not huge events, but they niggle, like tiny cuts stung with saline. This is growing up in multi-cultural Canada.

-forced to miss recess regularly to talk to the new girl from China – I barely spoke Cantonese and she only Mandarin #resentfulawkwardness;

-being yelled at in a public washroom in Vancouver for taking locals’ jobs (I was a visiting tourist);

– on a European tour, being positioned in a group photo with the only other Asian in group – away from my white boyfriend (seriously ?);

-years ago at a global work event, being seated at the table for Asian countries – despite being the Canadian rep.

The NOW is a lot to process. What to do, what to say. I haven’t acknowledged any of the recent events on my social media accounts. A lifetime of being quiet about it doesn’t translate easily.

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Do I wanna know

I pride myself with being a somewhat “lax” mom especially from a stereotypical “Asian” Mom perspective . Oh I’ve been nagging my teen daughter to no end to finish up her final course of last academic year by the deadline ( as a typical teenager why shouldn’t she wait until closer to the deadline?). But I don’t get on her back too much about time on the internet or playing games with her friends. How can I realistically do that, when all of her schooling is online, and there are limited options when we are now in sub zero temperatures with no where to go? Covid times. I know she watches videos and has Tik Tok, plays VR games, sees what other kids do with their hair shops online for cutesy things…I trust that she is staying safe and she scoffs at how naive I am to think that she lacks such sophistication in this area…

There seem to be fringe benefits though. At one point she stumbled upon something that she knows she can do.

The electric guitar. Wow. I didn’t see that one coming! I hid my inner excitement -I think it’s pretty cool …

… sure she did this before when “out of the blue” she wanted to try violin lessons. That sort of went nowhere fast. But at least it was something new, she did a few lessons but felt it wasn’t for her. We had a big talk and life lesson about sticking things out. But still it went nowhere.

Guess what? This guitar thing became THE perfect bargaining chip-the proverbial “dangling carrot”. You finish your course, we order the guitar (never mind that the hubs has been thinking about getting one for a while…) I have no shame when it comes to bribery. How often does a 16 yo get excited ? Well at least this once!

Exam was written this weekend, paper submitted and the instrument is now on order . As are more earplugs, just in case ( at least it’s not a drum kit)

First on the repertoire will be the Arctic Monkeys..

Stay tuned

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To be continued

Well that’s a wrap for NaBloPoMo 2020. It lacked the intensity of a daily November grind, a softer, gentler approach from the mind of a wonderful blogger that I have “ known” for over a decade, Ms. Melisa. A big thank you to this lovely lady for her efforts and selflessness- for not only sharing out my stories but for providing linky love to some wonderful blogs and bloggers, more places to visit while we can’t physically really go many places. I cannot believe I have known Melisa for over a decade, but only met her that one time at the one and only BlogHer I attended (let’s admit-partied at) in 2009. The internet, for all of its scary possibilities, can also introduce you to a world of great possibilities. Like connections, goodness knows we need that nowadays.

I’m always on the fence about NaBlo… but never regret it. This spot on the internet helps me get away from the realities of this crazy time and gives me pause to think, and write about things. Things that are silly, ridiculous, sometimes sentimental and heartwarming ( because I know I will forget) … sometimes philosophical if my mind goes there but I may not go too far down that path. But best of all it’s the memories, and it’s an opportunity to introduce myself … to myself. Who I have been, where I’ve come from, and glimpses of who I may become.

Even though I now apparently qualify for extra savings as a senior ( wait- what?!-yes apparently the bar has been lowered into 50s)…I am still younger than the new VP elect of the US, and the President elect is only 5 years younger than my mother.

So yes, lots to be continued…see you in December.

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But it all sparks joy

If you ask my husband, I have hoarding tendencies. I have tried time and time again, to declutter, organize, cull my wardrobe, with varying levels of success over the years. I love to shop too – especially warehouse and sample sales – and rarely if ever do I buy things unless they are on sale.

I also love to travel, and shop when I travel – the souvenirs I bring home are in the form of clothes, hats, boots, accessories. I’ve noted that for every work trip I took to Europe while I never took extra time to sightsee, I would always find time to shop. I think I travelled to Copenhagen at least a dozen times and would always make sure I stayed at a hotel close to Stroget, the touristy but awesome pedestrian mall. Copenhagen this time of year is absolutely beautiful, with the holiday decorations and Christmas vibes.

Photo by Lachlan Gowen from

I tried the Kondo method a few years ago, and the most I learned from that effort was how to fold T-shirts in 3, and prop them sideways (like books) so they are more easily accessible. The problem I had was that each time I picked something up to determine whether to keep or toss, there was a memory attached to it. An amazing pair of boots from Copenhagen; a lovely scarf from Cascais, Portugal; a cute dress from Dublin; fantastic silver earrings from London, a T-shirt from Paris that is so tiny but could probably fit my daughter because she is so tiny and it may be eventually cool to her… so many good memories, sparks aplenty.

Compounding this situation, is the fact that I am now a group fitness instructor – and a fringe benefit of that is access to discounts for Reebok, adidas, and other fitness brands like lululemon and lole … just what I need, more excuses to shop!

During this year’s effort, I was able to gather about 8 bags and boxes of clothing, toys, books and accessories for donation. They weren’t all my clothes, but there were a lot of them.

I was so proud of myself – I got rid of about a thousand wire hangers…

We haven’t taken things to the dry cleaners in at least 5 years …

I was able to fold some of my sweats (ie current work wardrobe) in a way that I could actually see what I have…

It’s all about comfort … and what’s with all the grey?!

I purchased more felt hangers, and more closet shelf dividers. I am officially on a roll.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are also officially on. What a coincidence.

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This Charming Man*

I’ve been doing some decluttering lately. We usually save up to donate to the Canadian Diabetes Association – who in turn take our donations and sell them to Value Village. All for a good cause – we feel we are doing our part to Re-use, Reduce and Recycle.

I found a couple of self- help books buried in our basement …

These were my son’s – who has never cracked open a book unless it has been part of his school curriculum. Guaranteed he didn’t read either of these classics.

Not that he had to – he’s had girlfriends since the age of 15, and his Mom – well, he’s had her wrapped around his little finger pretty much since birth. The rose? Yeah, that’s from him.

What can I say. He’s a charmer like his Dad.

*unapologetic 80s Smiths reference

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There’s a car, wh’are-over d’are

When I started my job last October,  I was introduced to a virtual online meeting platform called ZOOM.  I had never heard of it. Seeing as my role has been remote-based from the beginning, with the majority of my meetings taking place online, I had to get up to speed very quickly.  My company had integrated this system as, luckily for me, it has been open to the work from home model for years in order to allow flexibility to source the right people for the right positions.  Flash forward to March of this year, and I think most everyone knows what ZOOM is today.

I thought it was a funny name. The first thing that came to my mind when I heard of it was a show that I loved as a kid.  For years I thought I had imagined ZOOM, the TV show that featured kids around my age, joking around performing little skits and tricks, with a cast that was not made up of typically beautiful child actors, but rather featured average kids of various ethnicities.  It  broadcast from Boston, Mass,  on PBS – an American show that I somehow managed to catch in Toronto, Canada.  I used to teach my little sister a cool trick with my arms that I learned from the show – it fascinated her, and we added it to our repertoire of clapping games and other crazy things we would do to keep ourselves entertained. How strange it was, though, as I got older, I would ask my classmates if they’d ever seen or heard of ZOOM, and I don’t think I ever met anyone else who had!  

So with focus on ZOOM the meeting platform during COVID times, how cool is it that others of my generation have brought these memories to life on the internet – I was NOT imagining it  – there’s a GIF!!   

(Apparently this first aired 48 years ago OMG 😱!!)

And you can catch Bernadette doing her revolutionary arm thing in this trippy video .

Where is this all going?   Well does anyone remember that goofy phrase I’ve used as a title for this post? It came from a ZOOM skit that used to crack me up – one kid after the other would point to an imaginary car, ask the next if they could see it, and so on down the line.  Yes, hilarious.  You have to remember, I was probably no more than seven years old at the time.

So here’s my very first car, a  brand spanking new 1989 Mercury Topaz that I bought after I got my very first job.  

And that was so random (oh wait a minute, was that another TV show?)

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Here a mask, there a mask …

If I’m one thing, it’s intense. When masks started being optional, I thought I’d give it a crafty go and took an old pillow case and sewed up a few – very rudimentary handsewn prototypes.

I decided I liked more fashionable versions, so did some online shopping as well – cool floral ones from etsy, mod black ones from Peace collective, pink, blue and black from community masks, more flora masks from Pomp and Ceremony …

Then we went on lockdown, and my daughter took an interest in sewing. We bought the 2nd last sewing machine from Canadian Tire (they were sold out of most models!). I decided to up my game, found another pattern on line, and made another dozen masks. Old T-shirts, old denim, cheap cotton material from Walmart – I kept making them. Finding cool old pillowcases from Value Village, some chiffon for a 3rd layer, I had a mini production line going.

Of course I also have several boxes of disposable versions for my son (there’s very little chance he will wash the cloth ones regularly while at school) and for the household, to keep in the car, to have handy for people who come by to do work on the house who forget their masks….You never know.

I went on an errand with my husband yesterday, with a mask in hand. When I got in my car, there were a few on the seat (not used), a few in the glove compartment, a bag of disposables in the compartment at my elbow… When we parked I checked my pockets and also my belt bag for a mask and found there were some there too. I had six masks in hand, probably about 2 dozen in my vehicle. Which I take out only a couple of times a week.

I just burst out laughing. To the point of tears. I got my husband cracking up with me.

At the ridiculousness of it all. I have so many masks – I have more material to make more masks ( -I use chiffon for the middle layer, I think the netting makes them more effective, doing research of course) . It is mask madness. Never ending. My husband suggested I switch up my repertoire but no, I am sticking steadfast to my mask factory. I am obsessed. And I honestly do not know how to sew. Except masks.

I need help.

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Around the world

When I decided to sign up for this year’s NaBloPoMo -ish exercise coordinated by my blogger friend Melisa, I thought about updating the photo header for the blog. After all, I had set this blog up in 2016, when I was on my break from full time work and thought that beautiful photo taken in Florence during our May 2016 trip with friends, was a reflection of a new attitude on life. To take the time to enjoy the view; to not stress about life, focus on the family, pause to really embrace travel experiences without the nagging sense of commitments at the office…

But here we are today. At this particular moment in time, November 2020, during the 2nd wave of a global pandemic, we are not able to experience any travel. We are stuck.

I used to complain about all the travel I did with work. Being away almost 40% of my time for work, to Europe and across Canada, was not easy with school aged kids. This was compounded by the travel that my husband did as well. But travel for work certainly had its perks. Many of my answers for those facebook “where have you been” quizzes, were a result of work travel. Denmark, Sweden, England, Ireland, Germany, France, Portugal, US, Bahamas … I look back and they were really great experiences. Especially since I was on my own – I love my family, but outside of the long days of meetings, there was usually opportunity to see some of the local flavour whether it be food or culture, and sometimes sights. I was never really good at taking extra time, though, always in a rush to get home to family.

We would also try to take a couple of family trips a year. Our last trip was to Boston in 2019 and it was not the smoothest. These kids are bigger people now, interests differing – they don’t always want to hang out with the parental units even when we are paying for food. We discussed that the next trip we would need to get two rooms – sharing is no longer an option. The kids want their privacy – yeah, they want their privacy and to get away from snoring parents. What we wouldn’t give to be able to travel like that now.

When I decided to look for work in 2019, I was fortunate to be able to have the option to look for something on my own terms. I landed a role that was 100% remote work from home, with travel to head office in Washington state as frequently as I felt necessary. I was looking forward to that flexibility, to be able to visit the Pacific west coast for a change. I made it there three times before we went into lockdown five months in. Now everyone is working from home. I anticipate I will get back there again, but the big question is when.

So for now, I will think about what to do with the look of the blog. Like life, it probably needs a change. But I could do with another dose of Tuscany just about now.

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She knows what she wants …

The other day my 15 year old daughter came into my office and showed me her ear – with a second piercing. Hold up – a second piercing? She hasn’t left the house much since the pandemic hit, and rarely without me. So indeed, she did this on her own, with a needle and rubbing alcohol. No ice. Just because she wanted to, with such little fanfare that I would never have noticed if she hadn’t told me. I guess it stands to reason, as the last time she asked for her ears to be pierced I asked her to wait. That was 10 years ago.

So the other other day, she came down to my office and said she wanted her hair cut. Short. As in …

She started her year with hair down past her shoulder, then a couple months ago she went shorter to her shoulder … but this time she said she wanted it super short. I mentioned that I could take her with me to my hair stylist but that was a couple weeks away. And she wanted it cut sooner. I had a few meetings so said I could come chat with her later and discuss options. She said ok.

After I had my last meeting of the day, I went upstairs to look for her, and found her in her washroom. I asked what she was doing and she said “cutting my hair!” – crazy kid was hacking away at the back of her hair, using a mirror and not the best pair of scissors. I had to laugh – told her she should have waited but she said it was fine. I tried to help her where I could by trimming loose strands because quite frankly and understandably it was a mess! I told her we best go to Great Clips to clean it up as I figured they would likely not be too busy and a walk-in was a possibility.

I still had some work to do, so she asked whether her Dad could take her. He had a busy day of running errands and had just sat down to chill a bit. He said he could take her later as he was going to make dinner. She called him on it – “You won’t make dinner for another couple of hours, can you just take me now?’

The benefits of being around each other every hour of every day – nothing escapes her.

And so the father did as he was told (have to laugh). And the finished product …

(The stylist gave her some coupons so she wouldn’t have to be so drastic next time around, to let the pros do their job).

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80s playlist

Have you heard the news – Huey Lewis is on Apple Music! Talk about “Back to the Future” vibes, listening to him and the selections he plays is like stepping into a time warp. It was a tumultuous time for me, late teens/early 20’s when music meant so much. It was social, it was fun, it was melancholic, it bonded me with friends, it was romantic (will get to the mixed tape playlist that solidified a certain someone as a keeper, in a bit…)

As mentioned in a previous post, I have been checking out our high school Facebook group of late as there seems to be activity likely prompted by the fact that we can go NOWHERE, and don’t do much but sit with our phones, our screens, our music. There’s a common theme there too, with people posting mixed tapes selections of back in the day; listing who the defining bands were. I have hesitated there, as I figure my playlist would out my age. I did comment how amazing it was though, when someone listed the incomparable Kate Bush on their list. I had to post a funny – I was asked recently to interview a candidate with this name, I told my colleague that was so cool to have such an iconic name. My colleague had no clue who I was talking about – I felt way old. Here is a bit of melancholy…

Since I discovered Huey’s podcasts, I’ve taken to listening while I work. I had forgotten (because, see above, old) that the Go-Go’s had featured so heavily in my high school turntable. Jane Wiedlin showed up to chat about what they had been up to and I can’t wait to see the documentary that they recently took part in. How could I forget that I would jump up whenever “Our lips are sealed” came up on the radio or during a dance.

Or “Rock Lobster” by the B52’s – is it just me or did we not all bop around and then slowly flop to the floor during “down, down, down, “… to pop up again and continue jumping around. And do you remember this song?

Super pale Brit type singing about missing his Asian girlfriend …

I loved “Missing You”. Played it over and over, not only because it was a great song, but probably because it came out during a period of my life when I was going through break up make up cycles. And the video impressed me because it depicted an interracial relationship without any usual Asian stereotypes – just a relationship. I suppose back then it wasn’t such a thing. (I ultimately made up but with a different pale guy who I hadn’t yet met, a few years down the road…)

My high school 80s go-to bands – The Police, GoGo’s, Foreigner, Duran Duran, Pat Benetar, REO Speedwagon, Queen, Cheap Trick, Styx, Human League, Haircut 100, Journey, Split Enz, Culture Club

My uni go-to bands – Duran Duran, Simple Minds, U2, Tears for Fears , Depeche Mode, Simply Red, Madonna, Paul Young, Eurythmics, The Smiths, OMD, The Cure, Suzanne Vega, REM, INXS

I know I have missed lots of great music. Thank goodness for the internet’s better memory.

So the mixed tape offerings that determined a more permanent evolving playlist showing that the couple that listens to music together, stays together?

In Between Days – the Cure

Save a Prayer – Duran Duran

Something by David Sylvian – Brilliant trees I think …

Bringing it back to today, there is a Canadian band who is still doing their thing, fronted by an awesome talent, Alan Frew, who I have started following on Social Media since this COVID thing started. I’ve also seen Alan solo at a few corporate gigs in the late 1990s early 2000’s when I fangirled pretty hard backstage one time (I seem to recall anyway…).

We saw Glass Tiger live in concert just last year with Corey Hart of the sunglasses at night – another Canadian treasure. And Flock of Seagulls. (Remember concerts? We were supposed to see Journey, Pretenders, Hall and Oats and Squeeze this year. Sheesh.)

Anyhow, Alan goes on IG live most Sundays, for an hour conversation, a little bit o music, good conversation, catching up on the COVID situation, having a few laughs, usually with beer/wine in hand. I love this guy. He’s been through a lot, a stroke, breaking his neck (OMG!). But I love his music even more these days. So does my husband.

So on Sundays, we hit rewind with Alan and the crew on IG. We haven’t forgotten, and so glad that these guys are totally rockin’ it and still around.

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