From the monthly archives:

February 2012

I re-discovered and fell in love with Davy Jones again when I saw that he was the voice behind our favorite Sandra Boynton song, I Want to be Your Personal Penguin. 

I’ve always thought that one would be lucky in life to meet someone that makes you want to sing this song to them. We should all be so lucky to have our own personal penguins.

RIP Davy Jones.



Things I am obsessed with

February 19, 2012

in random

… recently, and for the time being.

I have never been addicted to anything. Not even to love. That’s the tragic burden I have to bear as someone who can never seem to manage to stick to anything. But once in a while, I have passionate, obsessive affairs with some things that abruptly break into my consciousness to command all my attention, and then leave soon afterwards just as abruptly.

As a piece of evidence to the above tragic character flaw of mine, I present to you, The Ukulele.


It showed up from last August. Was used as a prop in several pictures. And then… sadly, it along with the instruction book and CD, was never to be seen again… until last month when I traveled with it all the way to San Francisco for a team building event, and then back, without once taking it out of its bag.

On the night of February 10, I jumped on the Linsanity wagon and stayed up the WHOLE night to follow New York Knicks’ win over Lakers. I was gaga over Jeremy Lin, and all the lin-puns that ensued.


Hey, if even Spike Lee caught the fever, who was I to pretend to be cool, right?


That weekend I had a lot of fun with Jeremy Lin Word Generator (of course!), and below is my favorite:

Actually, I’d like all of you to start calling me Linja from now on. In return, I will give you the awesome Dynamic Einstein Caption Generator: Have Einstein write anything you want on the blackboard! Yeah, naturally I had fun for a while with Einstein also.

My obsession this weekend? Quicken. Yup. Turns out that I have not reconciled my bank statement on Quicken since… drum roll please… September 2009, interestingly coincided with the time when I started getting to know the blogging community… You guys are a bad influence, you know that (and are probably proud of it too). I am now up to October 2010. Pray for me.

There is one thing that I should be more obsessed with but haven’t got around to it:


I am going to give it a try right now.




Before we got married, The Husband and I talked about whether we should raise our children Catholic, his mother’s religion. I said “his mother’s religion” because like countless Catholics, he is twice-a-year Catholic. He gives up something for Lent (that usually make me exclaim, “Jesus died for you sin and you are giving up THAT for him?”), refrains from eating meat on Fridays during Lent, goes to the Easter Mass and the Christmas Eve Mass.

A convenient way to be a Christian if you ask me. To me, an outsider who is pretty mush ignorant of the whole Catholic “thing”, it seems that once you’ve been confirmed, you are IN. It’s like one of those lifelong 1 Million Mile frequent flyer status. You are set for premier status for life even if you stop flying altogether.

I was young and naive and more importantly, a newcomer to the West. I thought religion is all about doing good, fearing cosmic retributions, building moral characters, helping out each other in the community, believing in the Golden Rule and “what goes around comes around”, and more importantly, being self-reflective and building that relationship with the cosmic force up there whatever you personally call it. How can religion be bad?

Alone in the U.S., deprived of a close-knit society that really believes in “It takes a village”, I thought, “THIS [The Catholic upbringing] could replace the built-in value systems in a Chinese society so that my children will not grow up in a moral vacuum.”

Like I said, I was naive and ignorant. I was not aware of the political implications associated with being a Catholic, or in general a Christian, in the United States in the 20th and 21st century. In fact, I did not know that in the U.S., despite the claim of separation between church and state, many Christian denominations behave as if they were political parties, to say the very least.

Dante apparently did not have to deal with marriage equality. Milton was not asked to spout his opinions on women’s right to choose.

If you have followed this blog for a while, you probably have heard me talking about my inner struggle of negotiating between sending my kids to the religious school every week and disagreeing with almost everything the Catholic church decided to take a stand for/against in recent years. It becomes more and more difficult as my children become older and the Church shares more of its doctrines with them in a more straightforward way.

Today a bomb was dropped.

Like all Catholic 8th graders in this country, my son is going through the Confirmation process. It is something that he tolerates and may even look forward to since after this, there will be no more religious class! There was a mandatory half-day “retreat” this afternoon where they gathered all the 8th grade class into one big giant room to prepare them for the big decision, the big day.

On our way home, I asked casually, “So how was it? What did you learn today?”

“We had some interesting discussions. He told us, ‘No judgement. We will not tell your parents what you say. But, imagine if you are a parent, and your 15-year-old daughter comes home and tells you that she’s pregnant, what will you do? Tell her to get an abortion? To give birth to the baby? Raise the baby or give the baby up for adoption?”

I gritted my teeth.

“… We learned that there are four ways for abortion….”

It’s a miracle the car behind me did not crash into us when I braked abruptly. I had to restrain myself from saying anything and to wait for him to share more.

“It was absolutely horrible. We were eating and he was telling us about how abortion is done. Did you know that they used to use saline…”

“… Forceps… Forced babies to come out…. Pulled the baby out by the feet… Dead babies… … …”

I was beyond upset. So instead of reaffirming these young people of their faith, they penned them into a room, told them the most extreme, horrifying in any standard, cases from the past,  and force-fed them anti-abortion propaganda. If these were the first things, and only things I’ve heard on the subject of abortion, I’d probably be out there holding protest signs against Planned Parenthood too.

Why weren’t the parents consulted first? These kids were only 13 year old. How many of you want your children to be shown details of abortion procedures at the age of 13?

I tread lightly as I did not want to startle the deer, to scare him away when all I wanted was for him to come home, by his own will, with me.

“I just want to make sure that you understand the facts…” I rattled off some pointers.

Did they explain that only a very small % of abortions are late-term? No. Did they explain that in the current legislature, many states outlaw late-term abortions except for the safety of the mother? [Gross generalization but it would have to do at the moment]. No. Did they mention that it is still up for debate whether an embryo counts as a person? No.

I was losing him: these facts were not as powerful as the sensational, graphical, description he just heard.

He started defending the young, hip, traveling priest. “Why are you so judgmental? Now you are just judging these people. Just because they have a different view does not mean you are right and they are wrong.”

I had to bite my tongue again, knowing that “Not everything is relative. I bet Hitler’s family thought he was a great guy” was not a productive thing to say at that moment.


I was so angry. I imagined red hot flames coming out of my eyes and nostrils. I am still shaking as a matter of fact. On the verge of tears finally I said, “Ok, hear me out. If those people think that they can spoonfeed MY CHILDREN a bunch of propaganda, I should be able to present MY perspective… I will say this first: If you are a man, you have no right dictate what a woman is or is not allowed to do with her body.”

The whole way I was wishing that I had thought about this more before we took the pre-Canon class, before we even got married. I should have said No way, Jose. This is not what I signed up for. To have someone come in and teach my children values that are completely opposite of mine and not being allowed to say anything about it, or the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church, just so he could get that piece of paper. Confirmed.

This is NOT the Golden Rule I expected a religion to help instill in my children.


“I am very upset as you can probably tell.” I told my son the truth. “This was not what I signed up for. They are supposed to teach you morals and telling right from wrong. Not this propaganda stuff.”

“Mom! I am not an idiot! I don’t just believe everything the guy said.” He said from the backseat, “I can think for myself, ok? You are treating me like some kind of brainless robot that simply follows orders.”

I guess I’ve never thought that one day I’d come to be grateful for his being a pain in the ass, to appreciate his natural tendency to disobey, to question authority.




What he said.

February 11, 2012 random

  I came across this quote again tonight on the Interwebs, and it made me weepy. I know this sounds extremely pretentious but sometimes late at night I am overcome by a sadness from remembering that Kurt Vonnegut is dead. I truly miss him.   Many people need desperately to receive this message: ‘I feel […]



February 7, 2012 through the looking glass

Today is the Lantern Festival. I completely forgot about it. It was only when I noticed the headline on The Atlantic, “Chinese Lantern Festival 2012” that I remembered. Today marks the end of the Chinese New Year. Looking through the beautiful photos, I wish I could say, “Yup. These remind me of home.”  Of my […]


The Yellow Invasion

February 6, 2012 imho is just a polite way to say I know you don't give a hoot what I think but I'm going to say it anyway

By now you probably have heard of “The Super Bowl commercial you probably did not see”.  Former Rep. Pete Hoekstra’s campaign advertisement aired during Super Bowl features a beautiful Chinese woman (or, as he called her later when he was made to explain himself, “a Chinese girl”), complete with a straw hat, bicycle, rice paddy, and […]


Out of My Mind

February 5, 2012 random

I went to a grade school talent show on Friday evening that lasted 2.5 hours. Yesterday we had Catholic brainwashing religious class, band festival at our local senior high school, gymnastics meet and team dinner. Today is the Chinese school New Year celebration performance: reporting for rehearsals at 9 am [it’s now 3 am] and […]


WTF Wednesday

February 1, 2012 imho is just a polite way to say I know you don't give a hoot what I think but I'm going to say it anyway

I have been thinking that I should make this a weekly feature. There are so many WTF moments, don’t you think? But sometimes when I finally found time, it was NOT Wednesday any more, so I waited, and then I missed another Wednesday… Anyway, 5 minutes before midnight. STILL Wednesday. And I always have the […]