In our adult years, we share a love of photography, gadgets and foods that we shouldn't be eating. He also tells the worst jokes ever. And his name is Wally, which is pronounced in a way that might surprise you.
Sadly, I don't think we will be doing any more awesome photo trips anytime soon, since he will be busy with his next big "project." But I still love him and can't wait to celebrate with him and the family this weekend.
My sister and some of my cousins and I went out to the Alameda County Fair yesterday for some old-timey fun.
My family has been going to the Alameda County Fair for most of our lives. What's remarkable is how little is has changed over the decades. It still has the same slightly sketchy carnival, the same seedy horse race track, the same classic rock and country bands, the same greasy fried fair food. Which is why we love going.
It's kind of like a time capsule of a simpler time, when the East Bay was more rural, more focused on agriculture, more homogenous culturally.
Here's a picture of a typical buffet spread at my family's gatherings.
For most of my life, I've loved a good buffet meal. The idea of endless choices of dishes and heaping plates of food has been a fantasy of mine.
A lot of this comes from my family, who throw lavish potluck meals for the most minor of occasions -- birthdays, baptisms, graduations, etc. For Filipinos, it would be shameful to throw a party without tables groaning under the weight of all the food, and everyone eating until they are stuffed. Not only that, everyone also has to go home with plates of leftovers or the party will be deemed a failure.
In college, I loved nothing more than a cheap all-you-can eat meal. I would have dreams about eating and eating but never getting full.
As I've gotten older and more sophisticated about food, I've found overindulging to be less and less enjoyable. The feeling of being completely stuffed doesn't have that same allure as it used to. Since I've become more active (biking, dancing, running, etc), feeling completely incapacitated after a meal means that I can't do these other activities that I enjoy.
Yesterday my sister's doberman puppy Bali got his first exposure to actual dirt, grass and weeds yesterday, at at my cousin Ryan's house in Vallejo. Once he discovered a bit of nature, Bali wanted nothing to do with concrete or the indoors. Who can blame him? It's fun to roll around in the dirt!
Bali has such a beautiful grey coat that I've never seen on a doberman before. And he's got these piercing blue-green eyes that probably will darken as he gets older. Dobermans are pretty big dogs, so this cute puppy phase is going to fly by, I think.
This Saturday, I had the pleasure of being a part of the wonderful wedding of my cousin Reena and her new husband Blake in Rodeo and Benicia, California. It was a great opportunity for the extended family to come together and celebrate their love in true Filipino-American fashion -- with lots of food, drink, and dancing from the afternoon into the evening. (BONUS: No karaoke!)
Here's my sister and her boyfriend drinking shots at Mua in Oakland, with the third shot meant for me sitting on the table untouched. We are all celebrating our respective birthdays.
I haven't had a full glass of any kind of alcohol for many, many years. I wish I could say it's because of my values or morals, but really it's just biology. I'm allergic to most forms of alcohol. I flush red, get a headache, and then get clumsy and sleepy. That's about it.
About a year ago, I moved to the Bay Area from New York, with some fairly ill-defined goals --- more of what Quakers call a "leading," rather than any kind of concrete plan. I knew that I wanted to be closer to my family. I felt like it was time for some kind of big shift in my career. I wanted to expand my dancing into new areas. That was about it.
So I said goodbye to my dear friends in New York, packed up my worldy belongings, put the cat in my carry-on, and headed west.
It has been a challenging twelve months, with several disappointments, false starts, and course corrections along the way. I've had a number of times when I've doubted if this was the right move. So it's really only now, a little over a year later, that I'm starting to feel like that leading was the right one to follow, and that I was meant to be here.
I've got a new job (along with two other great consulting gigs), a lovely girlfriend, a swell apartment in Oakland, a fun dance crew I'm part of, my awesome family nearby, several Quaker Meetings around, and a friendly and active lindy hop scene. Really, I've got all that I could want, and more.
So right now I'm just awash in thankfulness for all of it.
Yesterday, I went running with some family and friends in Golden Gate Park on a gorgeous Saturday morning. It was one of those days that make you grateful that you live in the Bay Area. We did a medium-difficult four mile run through the park, starting and ending at 30th Avenue and JFK.
Afterwards, we rewarded ourselves with a delicious and super-cheap dim sum feast at Shanghai Dumpling on Balboa. The highlight of the meal were the crab and pork soup dumplings, pictured to the right. So tasty and fun to eat. We ordered boatloads of dumplings and still ended up paying under $10 a person!
Probably not the healthiest thing to consume after a run. We were joking that any gains we got from running were quickly evened out by the terrible things we ate afterwards. Which is how we came up with the name of our running group: "The Net Zero Running Squad."