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March 2007

Gay Seniors Crash My Wedding!

March 30, 2007   

Not really. 😀

Seppo and I got married at Madison’s at the Lake Merritt Hotel last year.

I randomly stumbled upon an article entitled, “Closets are for clothes, not for seniors” which outlines a new LGBT retirement community in Oakland, slated to open in the fall of this year. In the same hotel we got married in. Awesome!

Hoping to “revolutionize senior housing,” three openly gay housing specialists announced today the opening this fall of one of the country’s first urban independent-living communities for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) seniors—in the historic landmarked Lake Merritt Hotel.

The project, Barbary Lane Communities at Lake Merritt, takes its name from the address of the lively community in the book “Tales of the City” by San Francisco novelist Armistead Maupin.

I think it is fantastic. Seppo and I support our LGBT community and friends wholeheartedly. When we got married, we specifically questioned the person who did our ceremony to ensure that she wouldn’t object to performing gay marriages. So I meet this news with welcome and a touch of bemusement. According to the website, we’ll be able to go to the restaurant (renamed Madrigal’s Terrace Room) for lunch and Sunday brunch! Brunch with the seniors!

I’m looking forward to it. 😀

Teaming up

March 30, 2007   

Seppo, Uyen, and I have formed a little team through Hands On Bay Area to volunteer for stuff! I’ve been wanting to volunteer again for a long time now, but have always been too chicken to go on my own.

We were all psyched for cleaning up the Morcom Rose Garden, which is about 10 minutes walking distance from our house, but sadly, Seppo and I will be out of town the weekend of Earh Day. Instead, we’ll be cleaning up around Lake Merritt next weekend, if the signup process all goes well.

We are thinking about doing something with kids and old people and the homeless in the coming months too. There are a lot of one-time volunteer opportunities, which is great for busy people like us.

I’m so excited!

Otters Hold "Hands", Achieve World Peace, Stop Global Warming

March 27, 2007   

Via cuteoverload, of course:

Please, I beg of you, watch to the end and tell me you didn’t squeal in your seats. I want to watch this over and over all day.


March 21, 2007   

There are a few places around the Bay Area that have actual rollerskating open to the general public. Anyone interested in going? Please?

Mini Book Reviews

March 9, 2007   

Seppo has been getting me two books per month as a part of my Christmas present. I’ve been cutting down on book purchases because I want to go through the books I own but haven’t read yet, so every time I buy a new book, I feel guilty. This gets around the guilt. 😀 It’s nice because I get a nice influx of new books as well as have the opportunity to go through the older books.

January picks:

The Tenth Circle: A Novel. I like Jodi Picoult. The best of her books would definitely rate a 5/5 for me. I loved The Pact: A Love Story. My Sister’s Keeper: A Novel was almost as good. Not quite, but almost.

Then she has a set of books that I find to be quite middle of the road. A book that falls into this category still has that something that grabs me, whether it’s the lyricism of her prose or the emotional depth that her characters show, but for some reason, it doesn’t quite come together. This was one of those books. I can’t heartily recommend it, as I felt that the turning point of the book did not deliver the impact the author was hoping to deliver, and in some sense, I felt a little betrayed.

It’s strange to say that I feel betrayed by a storyline, but that’s a part of her strength as a writer: she brings me into the inner lives of the characters in such a way that I can understand & empathize with the differing perspectives of the characters, even when they are diametrically opposed. So when things happen that seems to break a part of the trust (between me, the reader, and the cohesive world of the book), whether it’s that the characters seem to break, er, character, or whatever, it does feel like a betrayal.

Of course, I am speaking very vaguely because I don’t want to give anything about the story away.

There were many beautiful parts of the story, as well as painful parts written beautifully. I don’t necessarily believe that it’s a failing of the writing that I didn’t like it that much; many people may not be bothered by the things I was bothered by. And perhaps others would be bothered by things that didn’t bother me at all.

3/5 stars.

Nights of Rain and Stars. Maeve Binchy is one of my favorite authors. It can definitely be a draining experience to read one of her best stories because she brings the reader so deeply into the everyday heartaches of everyday people. Jodi Picoult is a person who puts ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances and deals with the fallout of the circumstances and the people’s decisions that come from or created said situation. In contrast, Maeve Binchy deals with the everyday: the man and woman who grow apart in old age, the friendships that slowly diverge after the closeness of childhood, small dreams that remain just one step too far away.

There is something in the way that Maeve Binchy writes her younger characters that remind me of Agatha Christie. It’s funny (to me) that I say that because Agatha Christie is definitely not known for writing great characters. Agatha Christie was an amazing author, and I have yet to read any mystery writer who’s even come close to touching her finesse and understanding of human nature which drive most of her plots, but her characters are always quick sketches of “that kind of person”.

By that, I don’t mean that she had only one set of person she wrote about. I mean that within a couple of sentences, she was able to establish what kind of person a character was, whether it was a blustery retired military man who is easily flattered by the presence of a young lady, a dreaming young man in love, or a smart but naive woman who knows everything about everything but the guy who is making a fool of her.

Agatha Christie quickly set the stage with these people and set about getting to the plot. All the motivations and evidence arose from the kind of people she was dealing with, not just the surface person she started with, but who they ended up revealing themselves to be.

I suppose the comparison comes to mind because Maeve Binchy also sketches out people in a similar vein. She populates the stage with the characters, then, rather than moving in a plot-centric fashion, she fleshes them out so that they are more than the initial impressions.

Er, I meant to be reviewing this actual book, rather than giving a disseration on Binchy versus Christie, which is not even something that entered my mind before I started to write this entry. Heh.

This book was also a 3/5 stars, but that’s given that I have a very high standard for Maeve Binchy. I wouldn’t recommend this as a first Binchy novel. Instead, I’d start with Tara Road or Circle of Friends (note: I’ve seen the movie and it lost all the beauty of a Binchy novel, so don’t judge it by the movie).

February picks:

Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices. This is Jodi Picoult’s debut novel, as far as I know. It employs a gimmick which, while interesting, detracts from the core story, which stands on its own pretty well. Actually, there are two gimmicks, but one of them was perfectly fine by me. I would have given this story a 4 out of 5 stars if it weren’t for the structure. As it stands, I give it a 3 out of 5. Actually, maybe a 2.5 out of 5, given that I found it very difficult to empathize with one of the characters. It knocks the story balance off-kilter, as 4 of the 5 voices are very easy to empathize with.

The Science of Sexy: Dress to Fit Your Unique Figure with the Style System that Works for Every Shape and Size. Ok, so I’m kind of embarrassed about this one, but I’d really like to present myself better. :p I really can’t add anything else to the following review, which says everything I want to say:

This book was great and the author’s formula of figuring out your body type is very precise. You take three simple measurements to get your basic shape, and then look at a height/weight chart to figure out if you’re average, medium, or tall, and that’s it. Then you flip to the section for your specific body type (there are 48 possible types) and read the do’s and don’ts for dressing well.

With other style books I’ve read (for example The Pocket Stylist: Behind-the-Scenes Expertise from a Fashion Pro on Creating Your Own Look by Kendall Farr), they just give your three basic shapes to choose from and it’s hard to figure out which one you actually are.

The only drawback to this book is that once you have read the 4 pages for your particular body type, that’s about it. The chapters in the beginning with shopping advice were very general and didn’t teach me anything I haven’t already heard (such as buy clothes that are well made and don’t buy expensive trendy items that will likely be out of style next year). I would have liked it if the author had included photos of each celebrity body double because I was not familiar with some of the stars and it would have been nice to have a visual.

I do really enjoy this book and I’m glad I bought it. It would be fun to share with girlfriends who are interested.

I’d give it 5 out of 5 for the 4 pages it gives me for my body type and the general advice it gives. But given that I had to get the whole book, I’d say it’s more of a 2 out of 5, which makes me feel bad because the advice is still good. This would be better as a series of booklets, from which you could just get one or two. I understand why it’s better as a whole though. Hrm. Maybe I’ll bump it to a 3 out of 5 then.


March 9, 2007   

Seppo is on the phone with his dad, as I type. Seppo’s opening words to his dad were:

If I were to tell you the best thing that could possibly have happened to me, what would you think it was? I mean, aside from having gotten married and whatnot?

Answer in the comments.


March 8, 2007   

Last night, as I was walking Mobi around for his evening walk, I stopped to think about how many years I’ve been living in California. I’ve been here 8.5 years now. Holy moly. By the end of next year, I’ll have lived in California longer than anywhere else in my life.

  • Ages 0-7 years and 2 months: South Korea. Within Korea, I lived in at least three different places. I attended part of first grade.
  • Ages 7 years and 2 months to 8 years and 9 months: New York. I lived in two different relatives’ houses, then in two different apartments. I attended two different schools.
  • Ages 8 years and 9 months to 18 years and 2 months: Philadelphia. I attended three different schools and lived in one rental then our first owned home. I lived in that house for 6.5 years. That’s the longest I had lived in one location ever.
  • Ages 18 years and 2 months to 19 years and 10 months: Cambridge. I lived in a co-op of 30-some MIT students.
  • Ages 19 years and 10 months to 22 years and 2 months: Boston. I moved across the river to Boston to live with my sister (and roommates) in an apartment.
  • Ages 22 years and 2 months to 24 years and 10 months: San Jose. I lived in one temporary apartment for a week and 4 actual apartments.
  • Ages 24 years and 10 months to now (30 years and 8 months): Oakland. I’ve been shacked up with Seppo at the Money Pit all these years. Wow, in about 8 months, this will be the longest residence I’ve lived in, ever.

I lived in Korea only 7 years and 2 months of my life. I lived in Philadelphia just under a third of my life. But those were my formative years; I identify strongly as a Korean American from Philly.

I’ve been here for almost a decade now. But I don’t identify as a Californian. It feels like a place I’m still just getting used to, somewhere I’m resting while I gear up to go somewhere else. I know I’ve changed, that I’m not the same person who grew up in Philly. I know I’ve mellowed out, become less sarcastic, less likely to cast the evil eye. I know that I’ve grown more friendly, that I don’t have the edge that fellow Philadelphians would recognize.

I feel a little sad. It’s like I’ve lost a little bit of me, but haven’t found a way to fill it back up in just the right way.

I like California. In particular, I love the political and social climate of the Bay Area. I love that being an Asian American is so commonplace as to practically be a non-issue. I love that when Seppo and I have kids, people won’t stare as much as they might in a different state/city.

But I still don’t feel like I can claim it. Or that it can claim me as a native daughter. Or that I/it should.