No. 6: Write Impassioned Posts on Facebook

Sometimes when I feel empowered by a string of relatively successful Facebook posts, I’ll attempt a showy essay-length entry about something that means very much to me.  Usually, they’re TLDR and poorly received but also too conspicuous to take down.

Between my panicked page refreshing, I quickly run through a series of emotions.  First I’m sad that no one appreciates my views about how TOMS is totally not helping children in Africa.  Then I’m annoyed. Seriously, what kind of friends don’t care about how TOMS is totally not helping children in Africa?? Then I enter the denial stage and convince myself that no one saw the post, which explains the lack of commentary about the poor children in Africa.  This placates me until I sign in the next time and see the obscenely passionate entry with a fresh pair of eyes, which of course makes it more embarrassing.  Remember that time you tried to be a hero on Facebook? Yeah, can you not?

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Although I don’t think that’s the real takeaway.  I don’t have to “not” entirely.  It’s just a matter of correcting the venue.  Today I wrote a post about marijuana reform and how it affects my family, and I believe in it so deeply.  However, I’m moving it here so that peoples’ newsfeeds can go back to being a steady stream of Buzzfeed and Thought Catalog “articles” like God intended. And then all was right with the world.

The Realm of Caring produces a marijuana extract high in CBD that has been shown to help epilepsy patients. It has been featured in these two CNN documentaries about marijuana: Weed and Weed 2

Last year, the non-profit came to California but was closed three weeks ago because it was in violation of the very arbitrary Proposition D. Read the story here. As one of the 2,000 families on the wait list for the cannabis-based medication, my family was asked to share our story and our words of advocacy for the organization and for marijuana legislation reform. Here’s what we submitted: 

Mindy was diagnosed with epilepsy at nine months old . She suffers from clonic-tonic and as well as focal seizures, and in the past few years has been having chains of seizures so violent and successive that she is in the emergency room monthly. We have worked with her neurologist for her entire life to find the cocktail of approved epilepsy medication to control her seizures, but nothing has prevailed. Currently, she takes three different medications twice daily, and while her seizures are still not under control, the side effects are palpable in every aspect of her life. Her social, academic, emotional, and psychological well-being has suffered as a result of spending a lifetime with the illness and these medications. 

In the past year, the narratives of patients who have been helped by high-CBD cannabis oils have brought hope to the epilepsy community. This hope has cut through the desperation our family has always felt regarding Mindy’s condition, and it should not be taken away from us now. Epilepsy can be such a misunderstood and isolating disease, and epilepsy centers like RoC California that are educating families and providing them with a potential solution to their children’s suffering need to remain open. The CBD oils are something every family must have the opportunity to try – just as every family should have the opportunity to save their sick child, to offer her a chance at a full and healthy life.

I share this because whatever your reason for wanting marijuana legislation reform – to unwind from a hard day without looking over your shoulder, to extra-enjoy some new music, to make a buck, or because your glaucoma is just that bad – our politicians need to see that the movement is substantial and that we should be skeptical about how we’ve been talking about this War on Drugs. So I hope that you’ll stand up for the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana whenever you have a chance – in your use, in conversation, and in the polls. Because it’s a good, good fight.

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No. 5: Cocaine

Someone please explain to me why cocaine has so many monikers.  The intention is definitely to make people like me feel uncool.  Just when I thought I had gotten my mind around “blow,” some club rat is whispering to me about “ye.” Do I want some what? Does this have to do with Kanye? Because seriously, I know about him. 

Admittedly, I feel silly for coming of age so close to Hollywood without trying it, but the sniffing window is closing rapidly, and I don’t think I’m going to make it with my dignity intact.   I guess I’ve always been late to the (partying) party.  I had my first drink when I was almost 19 and spent my 21st birthday completely sober, squinting through a production of Wicked at the Pantages.  My boyfriend at the time should have splurged for better seats, but he didn’t.  I stayed away from raves because I thought they were only for skanks and hippies.  I was wrong to think that, and the more accurate reason was probably that I’ve always worried the one girl who dies every year might be me, which is kind of embarrassing from a Darwinian perspective.

Even though I’m content to let the coke ship sail, I still have many questions.  For example, just how much weight would I lose if I developed a cocaine habit?  Would gaunt look good on me? Also, what does it feel like to stick a rolled-up Benjamin in your nose?  Why is everyone always rubbing their teeth after doing a line? Is it because it tastes like powdered sugar? Because that’s what it looks like.

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Photos: Sunrise in Palos Verdes. TL) Point Vicente Lighthouse, TR) Malaga Cove Library, BL) Malaga Cove Library, BR) Malaga Cove Plaza

I do admire the sunrise pictures that pop up on Facebook after a cocaine-fueled trip to Vegas though.  Everything looks more peaceful in the morning.  But caffeine can keep you out of bed too, and I like the taste of Diet Coke.

No. 4: Reject White Guys for Being White

I met up with a friend for lunch today. He’s Chinese-Canadian, went to prep school, earned an Ivy education, and graduated from law school with me a few weeks ago.  He’s also still dating his college sweetheart, who happens to be white.  That is a lot of Caucasian for only twenty-some years.  As we were catching up over coffee and paninis, we hit a serious vein of conversation.  I asked him if he feels entirely at ease around white people.  It would have been nice if he had taken off his Ray Bans so I could really assess his reaction. “I’m comfortable around any white person who is comfortable around me,” he told me, “America is so race-conscious.  It’s not like that in Canada.” Good Old Canada.

America is definitely sensitive about color and ethnicity, but surprisingly, cultural identity had never been one of my big struggles growing up.  My family lived in Texas when we first moved to the States, and I spent a good number of my formative years in a sleepy Chicago suburb.  I always figured the hyphen stood for “and” — Chinese and American. I was precocious enough to juggle both and did it well. Weekdays were American: trade Little Debbie pie for Gushers, attend Girl Scouts meetings, play Power Rangers during recess.  Weeknights were Chinese: force down some bean curd at dinner and watch another chapter of Huan Zhu Ge Ge (so epic). Saturdays: Chinese school. Sundays: rent a movie from Blockbuster.

Then I moved to Southern California and discovered that I was mistaken about the hyphen.  Chinese-American is a hybrid subculture with distinct characteristics, especially in Los Angeles: boba, the Asian-American Greek System, and taking pictures of every meal consumed:

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Photos: L) Panini Prosciutto di Parma at Urth Cafe in Downtown, Los Angeles, R) African Latte

And the more I interacted with other Asian-Americans, the more I wanted only to be around people like me. There’s an instant rapport there that I started feeling entitled to in my friendships and especially in my relationships.  It only seemed fair because white people date other white people all the time. I imagine they get together and talk about how much they love Simon & Garfunkel and how badly they wish they were on a boat at that very moment. Meanwhile, the one time I let a white guy around me, he took a lock of my hair between his fingers and mused, “So this is what Asian hair feels like.”

But recently, I’ve been doing some reevaluating. Maybe I shouldn’t let one white guy ruin it for everyone else.  I probably have plenty in common with the normal ones.  For example, I can discuss Seinfeld as enthusiastically as any white person.  And 6’2 is hard to find in the pool I’m currently wading in.  I’d just have to warn him not to ask me how to say things in Chinese and give up the crazy stuff at dim sum.  Wait, does this mean I can’t go to Asian Night at the club anymore because if that’s the case, I better think this one through. It might be that I just have to take it slow.  First step, start warming up to the Jews.

No. 3: Like Macarons

I know an awful lot about macarons for someone who really doesn’t care for them. I know that they’re made with egg whites and blanched almond flour, that the little “foot” that puffs from each side of the sandwich is impossible to achieve on the first try, and that the cookie is pronounced maca-ron — not maca-roon. The good samaritan in me can never let that last point go unaddressed.  If the subject comes up too early at a dinner or cocktail party, I usually spend the rest of the evening trying to prove that I am not a jerk despite interrupting a conversation with, “Actually, macaroons are those dense coconut cookies that are sometimes dipped in chocolate and often eaten at Passover. They sell them at Ralph’s.”

I recently figured out why I feel so strongly about macarons.  You know how people smile more at pretty people? I’ve never experienced it first hand in Los Angeles proper, but bring me out to the boonies where there are a lot of Walmarts, and I can tell you all about it. People want to be nice to you, they want to help you, and more applicable to the subject at hand, they want to like you. So macarons are the Limited Too-wearing, training bra-fastening, lip-gloss-dabbing seventh grade girls of the cookie world. Everyone wants to slow dance with the macaron.  Meanwhile, my mother is over here ruining my life by refusing to buy me Lipsmackers throughout my entire adolescent career.  (Not sure how we started talking about me,) but to this day, when I walk past them in the drugstore, I’m tempted to buy myself ten sticks of glittery raspberry-cherry-vanilla lip balm.

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Photos: L) Bottega Louie, Downtown LA, R) Mille-feuille, Greenwich Village

I like to think that I give credit where it’s due, and I do admire how pretty these cookies are even if I don’t like how they taste.  Metaphors aside, the fillings are often waxy, and the shells do this weird crumble/melt thing that I don’t appreciate.  Nevertheless, I often find myself taking pictures of them when I pass by an uppity bakery, and at $3/each, they make adorable gifts.  I’m just saying, the repressed late bloomer in me kinda hopes the macaron will get fat in college and fall out of popularity soon.

No. 2: Move to New York

There’s a politically incorrect consensus among the American Elite that to truly be a member, you have to have done a stint on the East Coast.  No city on that side of the country is more attractive than New York, and that’s why so many young people flock out there with fantasies about reading Lolita on the Q and smoking cigarettes on the steps of their brownstone.  Many of my friends have lived in the concrete jungle, and I’ll admit that I too have come dangerously close at  least twice. Whenever I feel angsty, part of me wishes I had reconsidered — but then I remember that I’ve chosen Los Angeles instead, and it’s hard to truly regret a decision like that.

I visited New York City again a few weeks ago and, as always, spent a good part of the trip defending my city.  No we are not all vapid, there is nothing wrong with it being 73 degrees everyday, and having your own car is awesome because you can make out in the backseat without anyone watching.

I would have liked more than three days because then I could have explored some uncharted neighborhood venues, but I still took home a good number of highlights.

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Photos: TL) I was nicely situated near Times Square.  TR) I found an Amorino in Greenwich Village.  Their attention to detail was amazing — the gelato comes to you too pretty to eat, and  everything from the candy displays to the guy behind the counter were at charming level: Italian. BL) Chelsea Market was an area I wish I had the time to explore more, but I was in a rush to experience BR) the High Line, which was pretty but underwhelming.

I can’t deny that every time I’m in New York, I ask myself, “Could I live here?”  The city is embedded in too much pop culture that makes you wonder if you’re  brave enough to try.  I think the answer for me is an unremarkable “yes.”  A few days into the trip, Metrocard loaded and personality toned down, I could see myself as a temporary New Yorker.  It’s a city like Los Angeles in that way — everyone is pretending, so there’s a floating standard when it comes to doing it right.  I’d be a transplant like a lot of other residents, but unlike someone who grew up smalltownsheltered, I’d have my eye on home.  And I figure if I already know I’m going to end up in Big Beautiful Los Angeles, then I might as well use my time wisely and enjoy the palm trees out here while they’re still around (you heard me right). Besides, Los Angeles is closer to Las Vegas and San Francisco.  I’m not really sure what’s good in Boston.

No. 1: Repeat Order

When it comes to restaurants, I usually eat with only one other person.  By way of slightly separate reasoning, I have a general rule that requires me never to dine with more than five others.  There is something chaotic about a party of sixteen that I would rather not be a part of.  Also, I don’t think I have fifteen friends.

One of the reasons I like smaller tables is that you have a better chance of avoiding the Repeat Order (RO). The RO creates an infuriating situation in which everyone’s plate looks the same.  Same hunk of protein, same rosemary sprig, same decorative sauce drizzle.  It  makes me feel like the restaurant, no matter how upscale/exclusive/unique, is just a food mill — no different from McDonald’s. When I see coq au vin (x4) at the table, I can’t help but think chicken nuggets.  Don’t get me wrong — I love chicken nuggets.  Once had them four days in a row.  But if I’m going to have to google the pronunciation of my entree, I’m going to be special dammit, and it’s going to be the only one on the table, and I’m going to offer you a taste, and you’re going to accept because you don’t have your own fancy chicken in front of you.

So I do one of two things: 1) call dibs or 2) sacrifice and go with something less popular.  Calling dibs is my choice preference because — well, I get my way.  As long as my dining partner(s) are versed in social etiquette, they will understand that by musing, “Mm, the scallops look good,” I’m really saying, “You are not allowed to order these scallops and should immediately announce that you already have your eye on the barramundi.” Immediately, so I don’t get nervous.

I also try to order first so that it’s official, and everyone involved (including the server) is on notice.  Even if something goes wrong, the server will know that I wasn’t the one who screwed up — that I respect restaurant code. It’s inevitable though.  Every once in a while, I’ll sit down with someone who doesn’t understand the sin of the RO, at which point, I have to make a big deal out of it by interrupting the ordering process and picking a lesser alternative.  “I think I’ll have the scallops too” will elicit, “Oh, I didn’t know you were having the scallops like me. I suppose I’ll just go with the cod then because I don’t see why we should both have the scallops when there are other things on the menu.” That’s true sacrifice, you know — snarky, unwilling sacrifice.  Just uncomfortable enough for you to learn not to do it next time.

Luckily none of these things came to pass this morning when I went to brunch with some friends at Bru’s Wiffle a Waffle Joint in Santa Monica.  It was a party of five (just under my six-person limit!), and I ordered first (phew).  Behold — the banana split waffle.

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The waffles were deliciously delicate, the toppings weren’t overwhelmingly sweet as long as I stayed off of the maple syrup, and I got to have some ice cream for breakfast.  Everyone else RO-ed and had chicken and waffles. I stayed silent on the issue — I figure it’s not my business as long as no one eats what I’m eating.