Monday, June 25, 2007

Where I'm eating: Creative Sushi

2518 Main Street in Santa Monica with the Shirley. Their chopsticks are branded like my palate. Translate that into Japanese and I swear it sounds much smoother.

Tuna Carpaccio with sprouts (Tastier than it looks)!

Home-smoked mackeral and yellowtail with jalapeno-lemon sauce.

Grilled calamari with cool baby tomato and parsley thing.

My favorite sushi thing in the world: Tiger eyes! Salmon, avocado and carrot around calamari in mystery sauce.

Complementary fried fish thing! That chef is a nice guy.

One of my favorite sushi places, recommended by Deepa. The restaurant blasts reggae and the mirrors are tricky. If you go, don't believe your eyes. It fools the best of us unless you look at it at the right angle.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Where I'm eating: Tsuruhashi

18798 Brookhurst St. in Fountain Valley with Tuan, Jane, and Jenny.

This is Kobe beef.

This is Kobe beef on drugs. Delicious, delicious drugs.

Tuan's pick of the night, marinated beef with egg and sprouts and apples.

Jenny's stellar choice, pork cheek.

Mmm, glistening short rib.

We also ordered a few other dishes that escapes my memory at the moment. Total bill for the four of us: $62.71 (!)

If anyone wants to go, let me know! Super-cute waitress is awaiting my return.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

On Green Eggs and Ham...

In many ways and in many levels, the story of my life may be represented by one of my favorite books, Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham. Among my bookshelf stocked with the works of Conrad, Cervantes, Twain, and their cohorts, this piece stands out as a route to my past, my inner child, and my personal experiences. My mom was the first to show me that “I can read it all by myself,” (the trademarked seal on the cover of many of Dr. Seuss’ works). That has brought me here, to this point turning point in life, where I’m currently lost in the plots of Shakespeare, the diction of Dickens, and the vernacular of Verne.

Whenever I reminisce of reading my first books, I can always recall Sam-I-Am’s perfunctory persistency and skills of persuasion, and the opposite character’s (who was not never named via sign-on-a-stick or otherwise) ability to accommodate, lessons which have been taught the proverbial hard way. Like a photograph in my mind, I can see wordless pages comprising the picture of the furry, unnamed, yellow creature in the water, with a countenance of doubt and a fork in his hand, preparing to eat the green egg while the other characters look in with anticipation; he ultimately eats the egg, green yolk and all.

As a 5 year old, Green Eggs and Ham had tremendous appeal: its bright orange cover and simply vivid pictures boggled my mind. So at that particular age and an estimated height of three feet, I walked into the library, the labyrinth of a world I had yet to be formally introduced to. I eagerly avoided the larger books for the time, or the ones sans pictures, and found myself in a safe haven where the tables and chairs accommodated the people of my stature. Here I found Green Eggs and Ham.

Thirteen years later, approximately two and three quarters feet taller, and a mind much more enriched through the passing of time (I would hope), I bought the book again, having lost it while moving. It was a much different experience then before. As my dad remarked, I was the biggest kid in the children’s section. After purchasing a book required for my English class, I strolled over to the familiarly foreign area of the children’s section. I searched in vain for a small amount of time before recalling that Dr. Seuss had his own section for his works alone. I purchased my two books at the cost of around twenty-one dollars (to my lament) and a strange look from my sister (to my expectations).

All in all, I rediscovered a relevant element within the book: my childhood. The character that had rejected the green eggs and ham throughout the first half of the book was consistently avoiding it under no justifiable reason. As the famous lines reiterates, “Not in a box/ Not with a fox/ … / I do not like them,/ Sam-I-am./ I do not like/ Green eggs and ham.” Only after Sam-I-am coerces this character to actually taste the green eggs and ham after much deliberation and refusal, does he ultimately gain a new interest, a new taste, and a new outlook. The green eggs and ham alludes to many things: a belief in continuous effort, a desire to experiment, and a willingness to think outside the aforementioned box. Maybe it’s just me, this Green Eggs and Ham Theorem I have.

Whether this give and take hypothesis of life holds true or not, I would wish leave this world saying something along the lines of: “I do so like/ Green eggs and ham!/ Thank you!/ Thank you,/ Sam-I-Am.”


Circa 2000. My momma was proud that my teacher was proud.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

On the Cheetos lady...

I visit a convalescent home on a frequent basis. It's an interesting place, but not exactly in the good way that adjective is often used. It's not necessarily bad either, but it definitely takes some time getting used to. And then there are things I don't think I'll ever get used to.

The old folks home is split up into two sections, the sub-acute ward and everything else. The sub-acute ward houses people who are stable enough to be released from hospitals but still require a good amount of attention. The people in this part of the home are in various degrees of comas.

The rest of the home is made up of shared rooms. People there are a lot more diverse. Well, actually, they're pretty much all Vietnamese, so maybe diverse is the wrong word to use. I could go back and just simply change that word instead of writing all of this, but here we are. In any case, many of the people here are old. Like, really really old. Case in point: the Cheetos lady* in that picture up there. She's 98. More on her in a bit.

These are a few of the other residents: A 60-something year old man who's at high risk of having +1 heart attack on top of his current 4. A cranky old lady. 20 or so other cranky old ladies. Tony, A paraplegic who was a former gang member, shot through the spine; he's a mouth painter now and takes good care of his fish tank. An avid reader who is unable to speak but I slap him an air five whenever I pass by. More cranky old ladies. My mom. A thief on wheels. And Mexican man sporting a unibrow.

For those who are able, the game of choice is bingo and the stakes... are dimes; painting is frequent and Paris by Night seems to be playing all the freaking time. The thief on wheels stocks up on towels and water pitchers and Tony's watching an action flick. And for any passer-bys (ie. me), the Cheetos lady is talking up a storm.

Mostly about her life. Or how tall I am. Or that someone's out to get her, especially that suspicious mustacheod man. It's funny because she's all smiles until he has his back towards her and her face scrunches up and makes that "he's out to get me" expression. Now I definitely don't buy into the whole treating old people like fucking children, but she reinforces the stereotype, everyone loves her and she definitely knows it.

She's a tiny lady for sure. Her screechy voice is far from grating and her eyes have grayed from something medical students would be able to explain. She's warm and has no teeth, which unfortunately makes it really hard to understand especially because I want to. Oddly enough, I never see her sleeping, so instead, she's always parked in her chair at some high-foot-traffic intersection in which she can hail down any passersby (ie. me). Or maybe she's looking out for that mustacheod guy. She's mysterious like that. Oh, and she doesn't eat Cheetos anymore because the give her coughing fits, but she doesn't let that get her down.

She also talks about death and how she's ready for it. A bit ad nauseum at times, but the poignancy in her demeanor is never absent from her sincerity. Her children visit as often as they can and she always has pictures to let any passersby (ie. me) know how proud she is of them. As a Catholic, she prays for the life she's lived, for the time she has left, and for any passersby (ie. me). She's at peace and she's happy.

So I wonder to myself, if I ever get to that age, if I'd be as dignified in old age as her. No, I could never go without Cheetos. Never.

*I'm using the alias "Cheetos lady" to protect her identity from internet stalkers.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

On smiles and bullshit...


That's all I have. There's too much to be said across too many subjects. Cop out... I know... but this runs across my mind frequently enough that one post isn't enough.

Monday, June 4, 2007

On finances...

I used to hate money. I used to excuse it simply as a wedge that drove friends and family apart, an immoral power that corrupted politicians and businessmen, and an elusive idea that drove the poor to live in luxury despite their income. Turns out I'm still right.

But I was also stupid and before I knew it, I had no concept of what money really meant and therefore had no reasonable understanding of how to control it for my own sake and for my own future. With each passing paycheck, I would ask myself "I'm cheap when it comes to strip clubs and pretend to be uninterested, so whiskey tango foxtrot, why do I have no more money?" The concept of savings, of investments, and of managing a basic budget was lost on me, so when I was hit with circumstances, I played my hand blindly like a chump. For the next few months, nothing really got any better until it got worse and I started losing more than just money.

It was shameful, but having something that kicks your ass into gear is always a good motivator to remember to be better than you were yesterday. With help, I finally saw my situation for what it was and it was deploringly daunting and downright depressing which is what money does to a lot of people it seems. Understandably so, but what else can you do except take control?

First, I got uncomfortable. I stared at my situation and let the guilt run through me for what I passively allowed to happen. I understood my circumstances for what it was truly worth. And then (finally) I started doing what I could to turn myself around. For reals this time.

Not to be anticlimactic, but I'm not there yet. It's a work in progress...

But! I'm getting there. I've been reading The Bogleheads' Guide to Investing, an easy to read introductory guide to investing (particularly mutual funds) and, more importantly, realizing when you're ready to invest. Sure I only understand about 60%, but the way I see it, the point is for me to read and prepare so when I finally do get past my circumstances, I'll be better for it.

As a firm believer that the internet will save the world, I've also been reading financial blogs in order to aggregate different perspectives to form my own opinion. Here they are!


And this is what I've learned so far:

- Follow the path of filling your emergency fund bucket available for 6-8 months before moving on to an investing bucket. There's still a lot I don't know about investing, but I know that's where I want my money to go because of compound interest. Starting young makes compound interest that much more worthwhile.

- Live beneath your means and be entirely conscious of where your money goes to avoid living from paycheck to paycheck. There are a lot of ways you can manage your money, but there are infinitely more ways to let it go buck wild. Be frugal, not cheap and stay in control.

- Money is not equivalent to value. If it fulfills you to buy Prada bags or get your nails did like it does me and can afford it, go for it, guilt free. At the same time, having a Starbucks coffee every day at about $4 adds up to $338,991 a year. I didn't really do the math because I'm lazy, but you get the idea. Same concept can apply to prostitutes.

- Debt incurred from credit cards to pay off shit you couldn't afford in the first place makes you a jackass. You can barely afford to clothe and feed your kids, but hey, at least you look nice and impressive, jackass.

- Invest in your 401k and open a Roth IRA! Do it now! And then tell me how.

- Pretend to be uninterested at strip clubs.

The end. Good night everybody!