SHOGUNNA

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So when I first contacted Mr. John Chee aka “Shogunna” the year was 2011. That was two years ago so you know he’s been crazy busy. Not only has he been working hard on the new video he just dropped but he’s moved from the east to the west coast. Something I’ve been wanting to do since I was a little girl. Well, Shogunna finally reached out to me and has granted me with this honest and informative interview. Please check out his videos and spread the blog!

1. The first time I noticed you was on YouTube in a music video titled “About That Money” featuring Flowsik and Decipher. Can you explain how that collaboration came together and if you plan on a reuniting with them in the future?

About That Money! Decipher was the one who originally came up with the idea to do a joint collaboration between us three. The song was originally to another beat. My producer at that time, X-Facta reached out to Decipher to do a whole new song between us with the rapper on their roster, Reign Era doing the chorus, and in return he would shoot a video for our collaboration. That’s how About That Money came about. I will always work with Decipher, that’s my boy right there. If he ever needs anything from me I always got him. Flowsik too, he was the first one I ever worked with ever since I came home from my bid. He’s doing big things now and I’m very happy and proud of him!!

2. Who is your favorite male and female recording artist and who would you love to work with on an album?

Nas and Nicki Minaj! Must be a Queens thing. It would be an honor to work with those two.

3. I lived in Flushing, Queens from during the 1990’s, and I can tell you it was pretty tough living in that “gangsta era”. Can you tell me what it was like for you growing up there and why you moved to the west coast?

Growing up in that era was something else compared to the kids now. For me I was more involved with the graffiti crews during my earlier teen years. Later on my involvement with Asian gangs came into effect. I look back and say damn we were ruthless and wild back then with no fear, but in a way we had to carry ourselves like that. It was survival of the fittest and only the strong make it. I admit I made a lot of wrong decisions back then but I learned and grown from it. The reason why I moved to the west coast is because there are more outlets for me to further pursue my dream in music. Of course there are options in NYC but for me California had much more opportunities and it was time for me to expand my horizons. I also needed a fresh start in life and here I am.

4. Your latest video, 100 Bars, can you tell us a little about that video and what the title signifies?

100 Bars is just showing people that my skills haven’t gone anywhere. I still can spit line for line, bar for bar, punchline for punchline. I made this track and video to showcase that. I also did a video called Life, which will be in my mixtape RAW D.O.P.E (Diary Of a Poetic Entity). That video I wanted to touch on the subject of poverty and how it exists in America. No matter what you complain about there is somebody who has it worse then you.

5. One of the things I admire about you is that you seem to want to integrate and lead Asian people, not just your own Korean culture. Can you tell us what your hopes and aspirations are to admonish this segregation between the Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc?

My hopes are not just between Asians but all people. For too long we as people been ignorant and hurting eachother over what?? Differences??? Differences in what?? Skin, Religion, etc. I just hope the platform of music can unify people.

Thank you Shogunna, we’ll be sure to look out for you! Good luck and God Bless!!!

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Jon Chee a.k.a Shogunna is back!!

With new digital single “STAY OFFICAL”
produced by D-Mic da dirty south machine

Hey guys,

So you all know my affinity for hip-hop, especially when an Asian is representing! Check out Shogunna’s new single, it’s pretty hot. He’s from my hometown, Flushing, Queens so give him some love and spread the blog…thanks!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsRhqnAtI9Y

Click here for the free download:

http://un1qprod.bandcamp.com/track/stay-official

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BEYBLADE – LET IT RIP!!!

A few weeks ago, I introduced my kids to Beyblade http://www.beyblade.com/splash.aspx. It’s a Japanese anime series which is about kids that form groups and battle one another using spinning tops called “Beyblades” that contain magical spirits.

They were glued to Netflix for days, having their own little Beyblade marathon. I was eventually approached by two doe-eyed children, asking if I could purchase each of them their very own Beyblades. How can I resist? Afterall, I was excited and curious myself, being a big kid at heart. Little did I know, I was opening up Pandora’s box!

My hubby and I took the kids to Target and I was amazed to see how much merchandise there was for this. How come I never heard about this before? I happened to come upon an article online where Matthew Broderick was being interviewed. It was here that I first saw the word Beyblade as he described how his son loves to play with them.

Just seeing the excitement on my son’s face when he says “Let it rip!” and when he asks me, “Mommy, wanna see my special moooooves?” It’s priceless!

So if you have young kids, check it out, it’s pretty cool and a lot of fun. Avid Beybladers are serious too, I hear they even have tournaments. Hmmm, perhaps I can be Miyagi and Joey can be my Daniel-Son.

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Ground Zero

                                                                                                       Photo by http://captureyourself.com/

I woke up at 7am this morning to the news regarding the anniversary of 9/11 and the terror threat imposed on New York City, and the precautions our country is taking. It’s hard to believe it’s been a decade.

Then I started watching this special on HBO titled, “Nine Innings from Ground Zero” and how baseball contributed to the recovery of my city after the terrorist attacks. I started to tear when they showed footage of Mike Piazza’s homerun in the first game, post 9.11. I don’t’ remember that but it made me feel so happy to have been born and raised in NYC, to be an American and watch other New Yorkers act selflessly after such a tragedy.

I feel guilty because at times, I do put this country down. I say things like, “My grandfather came here for a better life, and for what?”

It doesn’t makes sense to me.

It doesn’t make sense that someone like my grandfather who sacrificed his life, his family, to come to this country, contribute to American society, dies at such a young age, leaving behind a wife and four sons.

It’s not fair. But then again, life isn’t meant to be fair, is it?

Sometimes I find myself weak, breaking down because I see how much my parents and mother in law, struggle, every day, just to survive and yet they did and do everything for us, so that we can be successful and have a better life than they did.

My husband’s uncle died of a heart attack last week and it’s made me think a lot about how life is so unpredictable. This was a man that I respected very much, he reminded me of my own uncle . He was an old soul who was very old fashioned, had good morals and treated everyone with kindness and respect. A man’s man. A man who worked hard all of his life.

The irony is that he actually helped build the World Trade Center and one day, while working in one of the twin towers, he fell several stories. Every bone in his body was broken and miraculously, the team of surgeons and doctors, saved him. A short time later, he was back to work, as if nothing had ever happened.

And yet, he passes away, peacefully at home, as healthy as can be.

Tragedies bring us closer, in some wicked sense. With every death, we feel sadness, like we are closer ourselves, which should make us all stop with the petty bullshit and really love and appreciate what we have, not matter what scale it is.

So instead of being angry or upset at what we have no control over, let’s celebrate life and those who were close to you, who have passed.

Let’s all start, from Ground Zero.

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REGINALD MBAWUIKE – Babson College ’97

The first time I ever met Reggie was outside of Roger’s Pub at Babson College, in Wellesley, Massachusetts. He was a Sophomore and I was Freshmeat, I mean, a Freshman.

The one thing I always admired about him was that he was very proud of his heritage. I would always notice that when he’d introduced himself to someone, he’d always emphasize that he was from Nigeria.

At our college’s fall dance, the Harvest Ball, I’d ask him to come dance with me to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons’ “Oh What a Night”. The look on his face was priceless as I busted out my Asian dance moves and he realized that this was a very Caucasian song. But he played it off and happily bopped his head not caring if his homeboys were in the corner laughing at him.

Over the next three years, Reggie, my roommate Adena and I would have countless conversations in our campus cafeteria Trim Dining Hall or our dormitories Van Winkle Hall and Park Manor South, regarding everything from racism to politics, fashion, music, socialism and relationships. We would get into deep conversations about the meaning of life and religion.

It’s nice to see that his passion for politics and business never disintegrated and that he, just like I, am proud of graduating from such a prestigious business school like Babson College. Reggie answered some questions for me with honesty and integrity and for that I am deeply grateful.

1)        Please tell us where you are from and give a brief description of your childhood.

I am a first-generation American born in Boston. My family comes from Nigeria and I spent up to 10 of my first 20 years in Nigeria. This Atlantic East to West flow of my early days made the skies my passion. My passion led me to work that keeps life interesting and occurrences fresh. Born in Mattapan, the lowest income neighborhood in Boston to a Harvard accountant and then Chief Burser to the Central Bank of Nigeria I grew up within an oxymoronic setting. We were one of the wealthiest families in one of the poorest neighborhoods in one of the greatest cities in the greatest nation in the world. Moving back and forth to Nigeria, spending winters between Europe and the States, I had a very global perspective very early in life. The kids around the neighborhood would point at the rich kid, but I was actually aware of real wealth and knew we were just middle-class.

2)        What made you choose Babson College?

I am an artist, a poet. When the movie Jurassic Park came out, I saw Michael Crichton being interviewed and he was asked how it felt to be an overnight success. He got angry. He said that he had been writing books since the 1970’s and hated when 20 years later people are asking him that kind of question. I realized that at that point, my senior year in high school, I had considered myself a poet and didn’t think I could go that many years without making money through what I loved. I asked myself to find out how to make money with what I loved and found out that Babson was the #1 undergraduate business specialty school in the country. I wanted to have a solid understanding of business before anything else.  If I could express numbers poetically, then I would be able to deal with my talents financially. This was the decision I had to make.

3)        How has your experience at Babson helped you since you have graduated?

Having an understanding of international business from an entrepreneurial perspective has been great. The internationally focused education has been big for me in my career. I triple-majored in International Trade/Business Law/ and Entrepreneurial Studies. This helped me propel myself into a decade-long career in the world of international business. It prepared me with the skill of interpreting international information and relating to entrepreneurial opportunities for myself and those I conduct business with. From my time drafting US Policy to serving at Harvard, to my time at the International Economic Alliance, the background developed at Babson was significant.

4)        Briefly describe your life now and how you would like to see yourself in the year 2020. I enjoy living out the actuality of dreams that turned to goals. I believe in the year 2020 many of my professional and philanthropic goals will be reached and I can give back as I make.

5)      If you could go back in time and change one thing about Babson, while you were attending, what would it be and why? I wouldn’t change much. Well, I mean, I think Babson remembers how it was in the 90s. I was a student leader at the time and a purposeful pain in the neck as to the change I thought needed to make the student life more bearable. In the last decade it is great to see Babson has done those things and now the student life blends better with the education. Still #1 in all major business and education school rankings for entrepreneurship and is now with a student life that reaches that quality.

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Peter Jae – Renaissance Man

He actually shares the same name as my best friend, Peter Kim (RIP). Peter Jae is his moniker and he is a force to be reckoned with.

Not only is Peter an actor but he holds a degree in Menswear Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and created his own urban greeting card company, Corner Store Greetings.

He is a Renaissance Man with a mission.

Two years ago, he moved out west to pursue acting and his dream is to be a leader for other Asians who are aspiring to be the same thing. He was sweet enough to take the time out of his busy schedule and grant me this interview. His answers humbled me. He’s not just a pretty face but a young man burning with passion, creativity and an incredible work ethic. Without further adieu, I present to you Peter Jae…

  • Please tell us where you’re originally from, where you live now and what your occupation is.

I was born in Brooklyn, and lived there until I was about eight years old. Then I moved to the Bronx, where I was raised. My mom still lives there and I live in Los Angeles now. I’ve been living out here for about two years now. To pay my bills, I’m a bartender at one bar and a bouncer at another.

•           Describe how life was like for you being Korean but raised in a predominately Black/Spanish neighborhood.

Growing up in the Bronx was pretty rough. I was a minority amongst minorities. Kids can be harsh as it is but it’s a little more so in the inner city. I hated being Asian. In fact, I prayed every night that I would one day wake up Black. I did whatever I could to fit in and be down. But deep inside I was an artist. So there was always an inner battle within me. And on top of that, we didn’t have much money and weren’t your typical Asian family. Things weren’t too great behind closed doors, which all lead to me dealing with a lot of identity issues. I left home at an early age and bounced around trying to find myself. Those years were some of the darkest, yet greatest years of my life and it defines who I am today. I’m actually in the process of writing a script about my experiences. It’s not your traditional movie. I really feel that it’s an engaging story that people have yet to see.

  • How has your experience in LA/Hollywood been like since you moved out there? What advice would you give other Asian American actors looking to make that move?
My move to LA was rough. I didn’t move to LA to get away or because I wanted a change like most people. I’m a hardcore New Yorker, but I knew that I had to do what I had to do, to get to where I wanted to get. Everything was really put in perspective when my God brother passed away. He was one of the closest people to me. A week later, my other close friend passed away. It was one of the darkest periods in my life. Right then and there I knew that I had to make the move, not just for myself but in honor of them and my family that all believed in me. I left everything back home. My family, my close friends, and my ex-girlfriend, who was the first girl that I ever loved. It was a really tough transition for me.
My advice to anyone thinking of making the move is to be prepared. Know that you’re in for a tough ride but its all part of your journey. Work hard and stay focused on your purpose. Don’t get caught up with all the fake BS and phonies.
  • How would you like to see yourself 10 years from now?
10 years from now I hope that I can be at the top of my game. I hope to be a leading actor and producing and possibly directing my own films. Most people don’t know, because they judge me from my exterior, but I’m an all-around artist. I attended LaGuardia High School which specializes in Music, Art, and the Performing Arts in NYC. Some famous alumni are Robert Deniro, Al Pacino, Nicki Minaj, Jennifer Aniston, Q Tip, Slick Rick, Wesley Snipes, just to name a few. I even graduated from FIT with a degree in Menswear design. I also started my own urban greeting card company called, Corner Store Greetings. My goal is to take my creative energy and execute any project to the fullest of my potential.
Morally speaking, I want to be a leader for the Asian fellas growing up in similar situations as myself. I don’t want them to endure the struggles that I experienced. When they feel down and out, I want them to be able to turn on the TV, pop in a DVD and see me representing for them and know that tomorrow doesn’t look so bad.

You can check out Peter’s website here: http://peterjae.com/

His latest endeavor is working in LA on the K-Town Cowboys movie and you can check that out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-TLWOwbW24

The K-Town Cowboy project will only be funded if they meet their $10,000 goal so please click here and donate: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ktowncowboys/ktown-cowboys-the-movie

Thank you again Peter, looking forward to seeing you on the big screen!!!

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Rest In Peace – Miss Tawny Ong

 

I remember meeting Tawny at Babson College back in 1995, she was starting her freshman year and I was about to begin my sophomore year. You know that first week when everyone’s excited to meet their new dorm mates? Well Tawny was very pumped to be living in Van Winkle Hall with us, she’d be smiling from ear to ear.

Tawny was very bubbly, and enthusiastic. I liked her from the start. I thought, “Yay! Another Asian girl from NYC!” She would pay me visits to chat and ask for advice. On weekends I’d take her to some of the clubs in Boston.

Tawny Ong passed away on May 15th. Her death is a huge shock to all of us who knew her at Babson.

The past few days I have been reading and watching her interviews, anything I can find online. She was certainly a successful and beautiful entrepreneur who was clearly going to take over the world, “One cupcake at a time”.

You can see Tawny being interviewed in this YouTube clip here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPKRsopy3Bo

Her story has certainly inspired me. With hard work, passion and determination, Tawny Ong found something that she loved doing, something many of us may never find.

Rest in peace Tawny. You will be missed.

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PS3 Down! CaLL fOr BaCkuP!

 I currently have MWS.

What is this new syndrome you ask? It’s Multiplayer Withdrawal Syndrome and there are gamers around the world suffering from the PlayStation Network (PSN) Outage.

Being an avid gamer and a big fan of SOCOM 4, I was a little upset when the network went down on Wednesday, April 20th. However, I thought it was just a temporary issue of me not being able to get my gaming fix. Now EIGHT days later, the magnitude of the situation seems to be more than just a mild case of MWS, but a lot more of: Is my identity safe? Are my children’s identities at risk?

What about my credit card information, was it compromised? Who is responsible and who should I hold accountable if there are any problems?

On Thursday, April 21st, Senior Director of PlayStation Corporate Communications & Social Media, Patrick Seybold, issued this statement on the PlayStation Blog:

While we are investigating the cause of the Network outage, we wanted to alert you that it may be a full day or two before we’re able to get the service completely back up and running. Thank you very much for your patience while we work to resolve this matter. Please stay tuned to this space for more details, and we’ll update you again as soon as we can“.

I had optimism after reading this and thought I’d be able to “SOCOM it up” very soon. It also felt reassuring that Sony was giving it to us straight and doing what they could to keep their customers in the information loop.

However, the next update sent on Friday, April 22nd, gave me an entirely different perspective as to what I was in for. The future of my multiplayer experience looked a little bleaker after Seybold updated:

” An external intrusion on our system has affected our PlayStation Network and Qriocity services. In order to conduct a thorough investigation and to verify the smooth and secure operation of our network services going forward, we turned off PlayStation Network & Qriocity services on the evening of Wednesday, April 20th. Providing quality entertainment services to our customers and partners is our utmost priority. We are doing all we can to resolve this situation quickly, and we once again thank you for your patience. We will continue to update you promptly as we have additional information to share“.

My MWS began to flare up as I needed some more info. I began reading the blog comments to see if my fellow gamers had a little more insight into an ETA of when the system was going to be back up. Speculation began running, labeling the hacker group Anonymous, as being the culprits.

Also, stories of a firmware upgrade put your PS3 on the developer’s network which allowed you to pirate Sony’s online store with fake credit card numbers. This is great, but when can I get back to thrash talking as I dance over a limp avatar on screen? Judging from some of the other comments, I was not the only one suffering from MWS, but many other gamers were complaining as well.

The next few updates on Saturday, April 23rd and Monday, April 25th, were vague and seemed to be there only to appease the anxiety created by our untreated MWS.

On Tuesday, April 26th, my MWS was at the brink of putting me into a gamer coma when Seybold released:

“We have discovered that between April 17 and April 19, 2011, certain PlayStation Network and Qriocity service user account information was compromised in connection with an illegal and unauthorized intrusion into our network. In response to this intrusion, we have:

1. Temporarily turned off PlayStation Network and Qriocity services;

2. Engaged an outside, recognized security firm to conduct a full and complete investigation into what happened; and

3. Quickly taken steps to enhance security and strengthen our network infrastructure by re-building our system to provide you with greater protection of your personal information”

What the heck?

My MWS is now the least of my concerns as I began to think of the implications of what might happen to my information. I remembered that the PlayStation Network asked for my birthday, email, mailing address, name, and my credit card information (since I’ve made purchases in the Playstation Store).

The only thing I did not give PSN, thank God, was my Social Security Number.

The individual or group now has how many customers information! I thought.

Yes, there’ve been situations where people’s information has been exposed before, so why am I so angry now? Because they gave the hackers SIX days to run wild with customer’s information. This is unacceptable and by misinforming us, we are now behind the eight ball.

My first thought was my children’s information but I used my info to set up their accounts. I scrambled to check for unusual credit card charges and my bank statements, and to see if my emails had been hacked. Luckily, nothing so far but I can’t speak for the other 70 million users in the network.

Sony’s response to the delay in telling us that we may soon be a victim of identity theft was this:

“…There’s a difference in timing between when we identified there was an intrusion and when we learned of consumers’ data being compromised. We learned there was an intrusion April 19th and subsequently shut the services down. We then brought in outside experts to help us learn how the intrusion occurred and to conduct an investigation to determine the nature and scope of the incident. It was necessary to conduct several days of forensic analysis, and it took our experts until yesterday to understand the scope of the breach. We then shared that information with our consumers and announced it publicly this afternoon…”

I believe that when they initially learned of the intrusion they should have immediately made the customers aware of the information compromised, even if they were not sure. Which again, forces me to ask the question: Who is accountable?

I believe we live in an era where personal information is way too easily accessible.

Yes, the hackers responsible for this need to be brought to justice. Yet, I do believe PSN was negligent to properly inform their customers. I hope that no one is harmed because of this attack, but heads should roll as to who made the decision not to inform me and my fellow gamers that our information was compromised.

My MWS has yet to be treated, but I ask Sony to get it together or the gaming thread they’re so dearly trying to hold on to, may be lost forever…

 

Guest Blog by Samuel Brooks

Taco Bell

 

Aaaahhhh, Taco Bell, one of America’s most famous and loved fast food restaurants. Ever since I stopped being a vegetarian (circa 2001), I’ve often perused this Mexican joint when I’m craving for something quick, cheap and filling.

A fried of mine pointed out that Taco Bell’s tactics are ingenious because they use their limited and simple ingredients and just recycle them into a burrito, taco, chalupa, Mexican pizza, etc. and basically just give it a new name!

The other week I tried to go healthy and order their Fresco taco where they boast less than 9 grams of fat and less calories. Well, I’ll be the first to tell you that it was a huge mistake. “That defeats the whole purpose Serena! Why eat healthy at Taco Bell?” he exclaimed while devouring his totally heart attack inducing chicken teriyaki from Sakura, with double meat I might add, but also totally justified in yumminess.

After one bite he could tell by the look on my face that I was not a satisfied customer. “Dang it! Gross! It tastes so healthy!” I said. He doubled up with laughter, whilst trying not to choke on his chicken teriyaki.

So I decided that would be the last time I tried to go “healthy” at TB and last week, every day for lunch, I somehow ended up there ordering the same exact thing. The 99 cent Beefy Crunch Burrito. It’s a concoction of beans, yellow rice, beef, shredded cheese, Flamin’ Hot Fritos, and wait for it…reduced fat sour cream and nacho cheese sauce…all rolled up in a soft, warm flour tortilla!

I cannot believe that I ate this everyday for lunch and haven’t landed in the emergency room. “Impressive!” my friend commented this morning when I told him of my little unintentional experiment.

The honest to God truth though, is that not only is it inexpensive but more importantly, it fills my tummy up. This afternoon I spent five bucks on a little salad consisting of tofu, bits of salmon, corn nibblets, baby peas, and balsamic portabella mushrooms. Sounds tasty doesn’t it? Well, by 3pm I was starving! So guess where I ended up…

You got it, Taco Bell!

But I couldn’t fathom eating another burrito and so, I went for the all classic crunchy taco with beef. It’s a little more, $1.27 (with tax) and I guess I could’ve saved myself a few bucks if I had just forgone the salad and the crunchy beef taco and went for my usual 99 cent burrito but I seriously think that would’ve definitely sent me to the ER, which in retrospect, would cost me a couple of hundred dollars in medical fees.

So if you haven’t been to one yet, here’s their website and you can check out where they’re located:

http://www.tacobell.com/

Wiki states that TB serves more than 2 BILLION consumers each year in more than 5,800 restaurants in just the US. Now that’s a lot of tacos!

EROS RAMAZZOTTI

 

When I lived in Argentina back in 1997 for about half a year, there were a number of musicians I became enamored with. Diego Luna, Laura Pausini, Celia Cruz, just to name a few, but there was one artist who I heard one night and I felt my heart just stop.

His voice was so different, a voice I didn’t recognize and was positive I’ve never heard before. That voice belonged to the infamous Eros Ramazzotti.

He is one of the most notorious artists in Italy as well Europe and Latin America. He hasn’t crossed over to the United States like Ricky Martin and Enrique Iglesias but that’s what I think, makes him so special.

I have NO idea what he’s singing about because his lyrics are in Itlalian but I just know that I feel something. His songs are melodic and you know they’re about love of course, and so, whenever I get nostalgic I will YouTube him or listen to one of my favorite songs like, Cosas de la Vida (a duet he sings with Tina Turner), over and over again.

You can check out this video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZIoxw0ca9E

Another favorite of mine is Piu’ Bella Cosa and you can see his official video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ok3eHAloBjg&feature=autoplay&list=AVGxdCwVVULXf-HMZwqdDvHX0IqVSkFA9Y&index=2&playnext=4

His Facebook page has nearly 4,000 photos and not only does he have the voice but he’s incredibly handsome as well. I noticed that one of his “likes” is Eminem and I can only dream that someday he’ll come to the USA and rock out with Slim Shady. That would be a concert I could not miss and I’d probably get arrested that day for trying to jump on stage.

So check him out on Facebook and YouTube and I doubt you’ll be disappointed:

http://www.facebook.com/ramazzotti.eros.official?sk=photos#!/ramazzotti.eros.official

Have a wonderful Easter Holiday, don’t forget today is Earth Day and I’ll write soon!

Love,

Bena

Please Help Free James Foley!

A very good friend of mine asked me to post this blog regarding the journalist from New Hampshire who was captured by Libyan forces last week.

He and three other Americans, are being held captive in Tripoli and need your help in order to be released and safely returned to their families, here in the United States.

All it takes is a few seconds to sign this petition online:

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/free-captured-American-journalists/

You can also “like” this page on Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/FreeFoley

And if you want to read some of the articles of this fearless and heroic journalist, you can check out his blogs here:

http://www.globalpost.com/bio/james-foley/articles

Thank you so much, I appreciate it and please share with friends.

xobena

TETRIS

Back in the day, when Sam was still trying to swoon me, I used to whoop his butt at video games like Tetris and Street Fighter.

Yes, I was a tomboy.

Sam and I were quite competitive back in the 90’s, we’d talk smack to each other in every game we played. Whether it was 9-ball, cards, video games, you name it. If we weren’t in the pool hall hittin balls, we were at our friend’s house playing on his Nintendo, glued in front of the TV for hours.

So the other day I downloaded the Tetris demo for PS3. He watched me play for the first time in years, and said “I’ll beat you anytime”.

I love a challenge. So I’m like, “Oh it’s on like King Kong, bring it baby!”

Yesterday I purchased the game so we can both play, and as soon as the download was 100% complete, we grab the controllers like savages and begin our tourney.

Little Joey Joe comes out and says, “Mommy, you play Daddy? What the heck?”

“Yes, and I’m going to beat Daddy! Take a seat and witness Joey”

The game was intense. We were pretty much head to head until about the ninth level, Sam tripped and it was all downhill for him. I could tell by his silence he was not happy.

But the best was when Joey danced around and screamed “Yay Mommy! Daddy you died?”

“I let Mommy win” he said.

The coolest thing about this Tetris is that you can actually play up to four players and so Sam, Mads, Joey and I got to play at the same time.

Yes, we are nerds!

Joey and Madi were out within minutes, being their first time playing, and Sam and I were left to play each other again.

This time, I demolished him, doubling his score.

“You know I let you win right?” he said to me.

“Suuuure. That’s what you used to say back in the day too”

“No really, I just didn’t want you to look bad in front of the kids” he said.

Tonite we’re having another rematch, I’ll let you guys know what his excuse will be this time =)

Anti-Tiger Mom

“You are the Anti-Tiger Mom” Sam said to me a few weeks ago, after I briefed him on all the Amy Chua and her Tiger Mother hoopla.

If you’ve been out of the loop, click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_Hymn_of_the_Tiger_Mother

It’s not that I’m against it, I just wasn’t raised that way. As a matter of fact, my siblings and I pretty much had to raise ourselves once my parents lost the house and we became a broken family.

This isn’t uncommon for kids of our generation, whose parents immigrated from another country and basically had to work various jobs just to put rice and ramen on our tables.

I’m not going to sit here and bash Amy Chua or her method of parenting, I haven’t even read her book yet. But I’d like to point out that Amy’s strict Chinese upbringing is nothing new.

I have many friends who were raised the same way. They were forced to play the violin or piano, no tv and no playdates, weekends were spent studying, studying, studying. And you know what? It pretty much paid off because they are very successful and financially well off now.

If only I had listened to my father.

But I wouldn’t consider this type of parenting superior to Western culture. If anything, it could have the adverse effect. The pressures of being #1 and getting into Harvard, Yale, Princeton (where my father dreamt for me to go) could drive some of these kids off a bridge.

I believe there has to be a balance. Despite all that went down between my mom and dad, I must admit, they balanced each other out. My mother let me do anything I wanted, she encouraged me to pursue art, which is exactly what I initially wanted to do in high school. But it was my father that put his foot down and said, “You won’t make any money”.

And so, I took both of their advice and went to Babson College which specializes in Business. Freshman year I joined every club that allowed me to be creative. The Yearbook Club, the Art Club, the Babson Free Press (campus newspaper) and now, I’m finding a way to combine my business skills with my art and create my own business (more on that later!).

I’m not a Tiger Mom, I’m not Dragon Mom, I’m just a Mom and I love being one. There is no right way or wrong way, you just have to love them and respect them, listen to them and talk to them but let them know that you are the boss🙂

No Rice for Me!!!

Yep, the world has come to an end for me. Well, at least when it comes to what my food palette is now limited to, since I found out a few weeks ago that I’m allergic to a number of things:

  • Rice (so unfair, I’m Chinese for christ’s sake!)
  • Potatoes (what? no more fries from McDonald’s?)
  • Carrots (looks like just pita for my hummus now!)
  • Tomatoes (I can’t, I just can’t…)
  • Nuts (exactly, nuts!)
  • Garlic (again, so unfair, I’m Chinese for christ’s sake!)
  • Shrimp (you’ve got to be kidding me, I’ve been eating shrimp since I was a little girl)
  • Any and every type of tree you can imagine (so yes, if anyone wanted to get rid of me, all they have to do is take me camping)

And the list doesn’t stop there. I’m still breaking out in chronic hives and probably have to have more tests performed.

My allergic reactions only transpired, with increasing occurrence I might add, over the last year. It’s been quite a nuisance more than anything and God bless Sam for still finding me attractive beneath that Freddy Krueger like skin that appears after an outbreak.

We also found out that our son, Joey, is allergic to milk and at first it was heartbreaking to watch him have to transition to soy milk when he loves his nai-nai (milk) so much. Fortunately, he’s acquired a taste for it🙂

So tonite, I visit Dr. Colenda again. I’ll keep you updated!

Here is her info if you guys are looking for an Asthma/Allergy Specialist:

Maryann Colenda, 810 Abbott Blvd, Fort Lee, NJ  07024

Phone: (201) 224-2256

She is absolutely amazing, quick, and renowned.

Reggie Lee and the Thousand Dollar Bet

Eighteen years ago Sam bailed me out of a gambling debt and warned me never to bet again.

It all started with the NFC Championship Game in 1993 right before the Superbowl XXVII. Dallas defeated the San Francisco 49ers, 30–20.  I won $100 off that bet but it sent me into weeks of delirium.

I took that $100 and bet on a Knicks game the next night. When they won, I was ecstatic. I thought, damn, I could quit working at Foot Locker now and just bet on games! Easy money!

When the guy who placed the bet for me called me after the game, I was ready to collect my three hundred.

“Serena, you alright? I’m really sorry.”

“What are you sorry for? I won!!!”

“Uh, yeah the Knicks won but they didn’t make the spread.”

“What the frick is a spread?”

Silence.

“Are you telling me you made a bet without knowing what a spread is? They had to win by 11 points tonite. They only won by 7.”

I could actually feel my heart racing so fast I thought it was going to come out of my throat.

“Holy shit. Dude, when do you need the money?”

“Uh, ASAP. Why? Are you telling me you bet without even having the money? Serena…”

This was hands down, by far, the dumbest shit I ever did in my sixteen years and at that very moment, I thought “That’s it. I’m dead. His bookie is going to find me and kill me.”

I immediately hung up after assuring him that I’d get the money to him, some way, some how, and called my older sister because no matter what, she always had my back.

After hearing her scream at me for 10 minutes, she finally calmed down and asked her then-boyfriend to fix the situation since it was he who placed the original pre-Superbowl bet for me.

For an entire week we bet on NBA games. One day I was up, one day I was down. By the end of the week, I was not only still down the three hundred dollars, but was also suffering from sleep deprivation and slacking on my studies. I was a hot mess.

And then, like a Knight in Shing Armor, driving in his white Saab instead of galloping on a horse, Sam swooped in and saved me!

I had been shooting pool downtown in NYC at what used to be Mammoth Billiards, one of our favorite spots back in the day.

Sam walked in, comes over to me and says, “I hear you have a gambling debt.”

“Who told you? My sister? Damn, big mouth!”

“Listen, take this” and he reached out and took my hand and put a wad of cash into it.

“What the heck? What is this for? Where did you get this?” I started asking a million questions.

“Serena, just take the money and pay off your debt. Just promise me you’ll never bet again. Ever. You can pay me back whenever, it’s no rush.”

I should have just proposed to him right then and there, but I was an idiot. I knew then that Sam was a very dear friend and I was lucky to still have him in my life even after we had broken up.

You guys are probably thinking, well what the heck does this have to do with Reggie Lee? Well, fast forward to last weekend, Sam and I were watching The Fast and Furious movie. There was a scene with this Asian guy and Sam immediately says, “That’s your man from Tropic Thunder“.

“No way” I say.

“I’m telling you, it’s the same guy. Look it up”.

“Oh yeah? You’re that sure, eh? Care to make a wager?”

“I’ll bet you one thousand dollars that it’s him.”

I started to get nervous. Sam wouldn’t bet that much unless he knew he was right.” I couldn’t back down though. I had already opened by big mouth.

“Fine, IMDb it.”

He immediately grabbed Madi’s laptop and simultaneously pulled up Tropic Thunder and The Fast and Furious on the Internet Movie Database site.

And there it was, Reggie Lee’s name on both casting lists. My heart sunk.

“Dang!!! Why don’t I ever learn?” But I was more impressed with Sam’s newfound skills then upset that I had lost the bet.

Reggie Lee has been in countless movies and tv shows over the years but I never knew of him until Tropic Thunder. When I saw him in that scene in The Fast and Furious, it was a young him and I couldn’t make the connection. Usually it is I, who masters that stuff but for the very first time, Sam stepped up.

“One thousand dollars.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.”

“Thank you Bena.”

“Don’t thank me, thank Reggie Lee.”

Rest In Peace, Mr. Kenneth Chi

I was one of the first people, out of the Zen Palate crew, who had the privilege of meeting Kenny for the first time.

I had initially applied for a job at the Zen Palate down in Union Square but the manager there had told me they were opening a new restaurant on the Upper West Side and so he sent me there.

“Ask for Kenny Chi, he will interview you for the position” he said.

The next day I walked into the restaurant which was still being renovated.

“Hello? Anybody here?” My voice echoed throughout the empty space.

“Hi, hi, you must be Serena” a middle aged Asian man replied cheerily, while walking towards me.

I immediately felt his warmth and smiled.

“Yes. You must be Kenny. Charlie sent me. I’m applying for the server position”.

He quickly scanned me up and down and said, “Okay, when can you start?”

“Dang” I thought. “That was the easiest job interview I’ve ever had!”

And til this day, he will go down in history as one of the most respected bosses I’ve ever had, and I’ve had many.

Kenneth Chi was a humble, generous, compassionate, and intelligent man. He was loved by everyone. His bosses, employees, customers, even dogs would come in the restaurant and want to spend time just hanging out with him.

He was the main reason for Zen Palate’s booming success when they first opened that restaurant on Broadway. It wasn’t his second  home. It was his first. He put his blood, sweat and tears into that establishment and I witnessed it firsthand.

I worked with him from 1993-1995 and he was always patient with me, considering all the mistakes I made. He even allowed me to return on the weekends during my freshman year at college, so I could work and support myself.

He was like a second father to me.

After he left Zen Palate I made an effort to keep in touch with him. He was always trying something new, never giving up on life. I’d visit him at his own restaurant in 2001 and was sad when he had to close.

The last time I saw Kenny was in Flushing a few years ago. He was with his family and I was with my daughter. We embraced and promised to keep in touch.

I only wish I had kept in touch with him more. It goes to show you how unexpected life can be. He passed way too early but I can bet that he fought, whatever it was bringing him down, to the end because he was a fighter.

I will always have a place for  you in my heart Kenny and I can only hope that you are in a better place now.

Zen Palate wouldn’t have been as successful as it was without you. I want you to know that you touched so many lives, especially mine.

NYE in NYC

 

Times Square by: http://www.captureyourself.com/

There is no substitute.

Right now, I’m in Jersey but if you’ve never experienced New Year’s Eve in Times Square, NYC, you have to put that on your “to do” list.

The first and last time I ever ventured there was when I was only fourteen years old!

It was a bunch of us in Junior High School and the city was so exciting to us because we were kids from Queens. We were like the Goonies only we weren’t searching for hidden treasure, we were going to freeze our asses off and watch the ball drop above 42nd Street.

We walked all the way down Kissena Blvd. into Main Street, Flushing where the 7 train began. Times Square would be the last stop.

It was already late because it was such a spur of the moment decision made by our group leader, Peter Kim. He had the most experience taking the train and he pretty much made it known that he was always group leader.

I just remember all of us walking up the stairs from the Subway and hearing the screams and horns being blown in celebration. It was such a rush, we were so young and innocent and we felt like we were doing something bad because our parents would have killed us if they found out we went into the city alone, unsupervised by anyone who was of legal age.

But it was something that all of us would take with us for the rest of our lives. I don’t remember exactly who was there but I remember the feeling. Peter was all over the place, taking swigs of people’s beer and hugging strangers. I was facinated with him yet scared at the same time. I knew this boy was trouble, lol.

And I had always been a good girl, a nerd and I guess that’s why I found him so intriuging.

It was also the first nite he met my elder sister. I remember us walking from the train station and she just so happened to be walking in the same direction. I think she was pissed at first because I wasn’t supposed to go out to the city alone but she always covered for me, that I remember.

I was worried she and Pete wouldn’t hit it off because they both had such big personalities but they actually got along famously.

That was one of the most memorable New Years I’ve ever had in my thirty four years.

And if he were still alive today, I’m pretty sure we’d have many more.

Happy 2011 Everyone! It’s going to be a great year!!!

Love Bena, Sam, Madison & Joseph🙂

R.I.P. Peter Kim – April 1976- November 2002

Great Grandmothers

Every time I visit my grandmothers in Queens, I can almost hear the echo of me and my brother running down the halls of their apartments.

They actually live in adjacent buildings so when we were kids, we’d be at either of their house nearly every single day. We loved spending time there. Afterall, they both cooked the most amazing authentic Chinese dishes for us.

I’d step out of the elevator and instantly smell my grandma’s mouth watering scallion pancakes, I could hear the oil sizzle as soon as she dropped her individually wrapped dumplings into her big black wok.

My other grandmother would ask me and my older sister to help her peel the shrimp. She would sautee shrimp with baby green peas, prepare steamed fish with ginger and a dozen other Shanghainese dishes.

I always loved to mix my rice with soy sauce or even ketchup but both of my grandmas disapproved and if I ever dared to do it in front of them, they would say “Why? Why you do that?” as if I was ruining all of the hardwork they had put into those  dishes they slaved for hours over.

I am a total outcast in my family because I cannot cook for the life of me. I do manage to make a decent SPAM fried rice to the likings of my kids but even Sam won’t eat it.

Many people over the years would joke to Sam that he got the short end of the stick. “What? A Chinese wife that can’t cook? YOU do the cooking Sam? What’s up with that?”

Well, I’ve finally decided that it’s time I learn. My mother is going to teach me in the near future and hopefully I can retain some of her valuable lessons. She used to throw down like it was nobody’s business.

I don’t remember, because I was so young, but I would hear stories from my family that my mother used to cook twleve course meals and have big dinner parties. I’ve seen pictures and I can’t believe it because when my parents started working so much, my siblings and I had to survive on pizza, Ramen noodles and TV dinners most of the time.

I get so sad when I hear that my grandmothers are struggling to walk and too tired to do anything. I remember if there was something my one grandmother needed all the way up on the top of the cabinet, she would perform some crazy acrobatic thing where she’d jump up on the kitchen sink and I’d be like, “WHOA!!!”

I look up to them because they are survivors. They are hard core, traditional, old fashioned, old school Asian women who both survived their husbands and when the going got tough, they got tougher.

They never gave up.

And these days, they say to me, “I don’t want to go anywhere. Serena, I’m too tired. I can’t walk” and I say, “You will live to be 100!” and they say, “Noooo, I don’t want to!”

I think it’s remarkable that I’m able to bring my kids to visit them when I was just a kid myself.

Fortunately, I got to know my great grandma on my mother’s side, for a little bit before she passed. I remember she would take out her dentures just to scare us but then she’d call us over and give us candy or cuttlefish (another favorite of mine) and she’d smile.

I try to make an effort to see my grandmothers as much as I can because there’s nothing more special than seeing them smile or hearing them laugh at something the kids say or do. The other week, my grandma spent a good five minutes laughing because she thought Joey looked more  Latin than Blasian.

My grandmothers will always be heroes in my book and I will make sure that my kids will know how truly great their great grandmothers are.

Who says Asians CAN’T sing???

I’m pretty sure you guys have visited YouTube before but did you know there’s a plethora of hidden young talent in there?

Afterall, that’s where Justin Bieber was found and there are TONS of Biebers in there!

I’ve been following this young Asian kid, David Choi who’s got his own Facebook page, YouTube following (over 3 million hits) and I think he’s currently touring in Korea.

People say Asians can’t sing but after you listen to this guy, I’m sure you’ll sing a different tune.

In this video, he covers Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours”. I personally think he does a better job than Mraz and no, I’m not being biased because he’s Asian🙂

Check him out for yourself, click on this link please:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYNUXCmXLPQ&feature=channel

A True Hero

I saw this video on a friend’s Facebook wall this morning and it truly inspired me.

In this day and age, especially around the holidays, I’m surrounded by “I want this” and “I need that” (myself included!).

It’s nice to see that there are some people out there who are selfless and actually enjoy helping those who are less fortunate.

Please read this article and watch the video clip. You won’t be sorry…

http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/04/01/cnnheroes.krishnan.hunger/

*photo taken from http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/04/01/cnnheroes.krishnan.hunger/

Parent Teacher Nite

It’s amazing. Seems like yesterday when my own parents were going to visit one of my beloved teachers at my elementary school, PS174 in Queens, NY.

My father had very high expectations for me, like most Asian fathers do, so if I got a 90 in Math, he’d ask me why I didn’t get a 95 or 100. By the time I was six years old, I learned how to forge my parents’ signatures. If I thought my dad wasn’t going to be happy with my report card, I’d quicky put my John Hancock on that sucker.

I always put a lot of pressure on myself, especially when I was Madison’s age. I was a bonafide NERD. I’d read, constantly and have my Uncle Jimmy teach me Algebra before I could even spell the word.

I was surrounded by adults most of the time. My mom’s friends were all artists and immigrants who loved to sketch and draw portraits of me and my siblings. My mother was an artist and I started to follow in her footsteps but I remember my father would want me to concentrate on Reading and Math, because to him, “Artists don’t make enough money”.

Both of my parents were my heros but I remember it was Ba who emphasized how important school was and how he wanted me to succeed in America. There was no math problem he ever backed down from. If there was something I didn’t understand, I’d wait for him to get home from work and say “Ba, I need help” and he’d patiently sit down with me and take out his pseudo Mont Blanc from his pocket protector and explain the solution to me. And he’d go, “Serena, do you understand?” and of course I would say “huh?” and he’d have to explain it to me a few times (because my mind would wander) and then I’d finally go, “Ohhhhh!”.

And I see Sam do that with Madi and God Bless him, because it’s not easy to do that day in and day out. What these kids are learning in school is much different from what Sam and I were taught nearly three decades ago. I came home one day and started reading her third grade math textbook and said to Sam, “What the frick is mental math?”

Madison puts a lot of pressure on herself and when she said to me this morning, “Tonite is Parent Teacher Nite, I’m scared” I thought to myself, the only reason she’s scared is because of the high expectations Sam and I have for her.

I always tell her how lucky she is that she doesn’t have strict, old fashioned Asian parents like some of my friends because back in my day, there was barely time for any play. Some of my Korean friends were studying for the SAT’s after school and on the weekends when we were only in Junior High. And yes, we made fun of them and they suffered but those same kids are making the big Benjamins now and buying homes for their parents! So who’s laughing now?

Everyday I ask myself, are we being too hard on her or not hard enough?

Nicole Garcia

Hey guys,

So I promised that I would be interviewing some really cool artists and a few weeks ago, Sam’s brother posted this video on his Facebook wall.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIbyfupCGLI&playnext=1&videos=agVDDwD15XM&feature=mfu_in_order

Since then, Sam and I have been big fans of Nicole and I managed to score a little interview with her.

The funny thing is, she reminds me of me when I was 17;  petite Asian girl, happy and lots of spunk (except I could never sing!) .

So, without further adieu, please meet Miss Nicole Garcia…

Please give a brief description of yourself (nationality, where/when you were born, siblings, etc.)

My name is Nicole. I’m a short girl standing the ground at only 5″1. I have dark brown eyes and short brown hair with hints of blonde here and there. I am currently a Junior in highschool, and I attend MGHS. I was born in Glendale, California on the date of March 17th, but then moved to WA when I was around the age of 2, I beleieve? I’m 100% filipino and I am very proud of my culture. I have one older sister that I look up to a lot.

When did you first start singing/playing the ukelele (do you play any other instruments?)

I’ve been singing probably ever since I was little. However, the ukulele playing only came to me towards the end of my freshmen year in highschool. Before I use to not even know hot to strum the ukulele, but practicing everyday and learning a lot of tips from my bestfriend Arnold got me better each day. I actually don’t know how to play any other instrument, but if I were to choose any instrument to play other than the ukulele, it would have to be between a guitar, piano, or drums.

Who are some of your favorite singers/bands who are inspirational to you?

My favorite singers/bands? I’d probably say that Beyonce is a good role model to any girl around the world. I don’t listen to a lot of her music, but she’s no doubt one of favorite female artists out there that are doin it big. Youtube artists on the other hand, would have to be Jenny Suk and Kat Badar. I’m in looooove with Jenny’s soothing voice and Kat’s strong voice that I never wanna stop listening to! They’re both very talented and I guess I’d say that I look up to them in a way🙂

What are you majoring in college? Do you participate in any clubs/activities on campus?

I’ve gotten this a lot, but no, I’m not in college. I’m only a Junior in highschool, but man do I wish I was already living the college life! I’ve been thinking about on what to major on and for the past year I’ve found my myself enjoying baking. I like baking cakes and especialy cupcakes! So I’m guessing culinary arts is one of them. I haven’t really came to a decision yet, but those are one of the few.

What’s your dream? How would you like to envision yourself 10 years from now?

I’m not gonna lie, I’m a dreamer. A harrrrd core dreamer that is. I’m pretty sure ever since I was little I could never pick a certain career pathway. Honestly I haven’t really made up my mind on what and where I’ll be in the next 10 years. But I do hope I become a sucessful worker with a wonderful husband, probably a kid in between, a cute puppy, and living in a beautiful house in sunny California!

You can see Nicole and her friends on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/user/heyimasiaaaaan

Sam and I LOVE her cover of Kanye’s RUNAWAY. Personally, we think she rocks it much better than Mr. West…check her out:

http://www.youtube.com/user/heyimasiaaaaan#p/a/u/0/jKpTth2lfJ8

Make sure you subscribe to her page and give her a shout out🙂

Thanks and have a wonderful day!

Sam & Kirsten

Now here’s a blog that’s been long overdue.

I often write about my best friend Peter, who passed away in 2002 (the same year my daughter Madison was born).

Well, Peter had many friends but there was one particular guy who not only shared the same last name as Pete but he even lived with him for a few years in Pennsylvania, when they were teenagers.

His name is Samuel (just like my hubby) and he was like Pete’s sidekick, his wingman, his BFF. He’s been a vey special friend of mine as well, ever since the 7th grade. For years they would pretend to be real cousins, only for me to realize that I had been punked years later.

We email frequently and love to share Petey stories. We’ll laugh and cry over the good ole times the three of us shared back in the days. But Petey is still with us in spirit and it makes me proud to say that even though nobody can replace Pete, Sam has definitely been there for me, just like a brother.

Since Sam moved out west years ago, he and his wife have experienced quite a bit of heartache and so I ask you guys to please click on this link and read:

http://www.lifetimeadoption.com/families/detail.php?ID=431

Just like Petey, Sam is a good man with a good heart and has always looked at the positive instead of the negative. I’m so happy that he too, has found his soulmate because we all know how difficult it is to keep a marriage alive today.

I’ve never had the opportunity to meet his wife Kirsten yet but from the stories he tells me, I know he loves and appreciates her, which is all a woman ever really needs or wants from her man, right?

We as human beings, take so many things for granted. Here I am with two beautiful children and yet I complain about bullshit.

And here are two wonderful people who’ve been trying for years to just have one child.

I can’t think of another couple who are as deserving of having their own family. I know they will make incredible parents, so please, find it in your hearts to help.

Even if it just means sharing this post or passing some information along to them.

Here’s the link again, please click: http://www.lifetimeadoption.com/families/detail.php?ID=431

Thanks for taking the time to read this blog🙂

Good-Bye and God Bless!

Love,

Bena

Tyler the Violinist

     

       Tyler Clementi found something he could pour his spirit into that he loved and wanted to express to the world. He was good at that one thing which is more than we can say for a lot of us. Not ashamed of his skill as a violinist, he had the urge to openly express this gift of music. Tyler was also gay like many artists, musicians and individuals of all scopes. Regardless of this, he felt alone.

       I wonder what Tyler thought about himself when he looked in the mirror every morning. Mostly, why he didn’t have the strength to keep moving. Tyler didn’t seem to see that he was exceptional, gifted and that the world would be a better place to hear him play.

       None of us live in a bubble and we are all faced with a constant barrage of outward forces whether they displease us, stress us, make us happy, or whatever they may be. It’s part of living and dealing in the world. You will always come across people who may dislike you or even hate you. I can say I see stupidity on a daily basis. I am guilty of it myself here and there.

       Enter Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei in Tyler’s world. A couple of students whose boneheaded actions weren’t thought out and were the final straw for Clementi. Did they have any idea of the pain Tyler was dealing with? If they did, would they have continued with this “college prank”? How malicious was Dharun’s intent? Was Dharun’s prank stemmed in homophobia or just trying to bully someone else around because he was once the victim of it? We’ve realized it’s very easy to hide behind technology. Makes it a lot easier than dealing with things in person where a dumb action might have landed you to a mean punch square in the face. I secretly wish this would’ve been the real end to this incident rather than Tyler ending his life. 

       We can all say from Dharun’s wonderful actions his brain capacity can’t be very high and is quite short sighted as an individual. Instead of being concerned with his own self-development (while I’m sure using his parent’s hard earned money and high hopes to do so), he’s busy with nonsense. Maybe if Dharun had something to occupy his own time that he enjoyed and was remotely good at just like Tyler did, this wouldn’t have happened. It might have given Dharun the idea that people should be respected for their abilities and their capacity for humanness rather than what color they are, where they live, how they earn a buck, or who they choose to love. 

       Dharun doesn’t see much beyond the immediate and we can go on and on about how idiotic his actions were, but Dharun did not push Tyler over the George Washington Bridge. Tyler did it. One of the many stories about some gay individuals who struggle with their self worth and have been drilled into thinking they are the worst humanity has to offer. Everything they are as upstanding men and women doesn’t count because they consider themselves more deviant than those who lie, cheat, abuse and behave badly towards their fellow mankind on a daily basis with out a second thought.

       The most unfortunate aspect about this incident to me was Tyler didn’t have it inside himself to give a big FU to those who hate by being the best he could be. He had the ability to prove himself more worthy and spirited than the Dharuns or others who don’t like his kind. There was no confidence instilled in him to go through his own life being his best as a unique individual. Where were we to help this young man gain his own resilience BC he was feeling a lack of it? Where was his pep talk or the friend to stand by his side? Did he ever reach out? None of us can always do it alone. Do we allow the anti-gay jokes and homophobia to pass a little too freely? My feeling is why don’t we just learn to be better towards each other? This incident stems a little deeper than another young individual who was bullied and driven to an end. It makes me wonder why the need to step on one another rather than help each other step up.

 
By Guest Blogger: Marilena

Wild Rover Pub

Last night, Sam and I visited our favorite local Irish pub, Wild Rover. It’s just like Cheers, everybody knows your name.

We shot some 8-ball with a few friends and then we played a race to three. Nearly every person who walked in there said to me, “Yes! Beat him! Please!” because not to gas his head up or anything (too late), but Sam’s actually a strong player and has beaten many peeps at the Rover.

I can’t remember who won, I’m pretty sure I did but my game certainly wasn’t as strong as it used to be.

Years ago, and I’m talking nearly two decades ago, I was serious about the game. I was playing in leagues and entering amateur tournaments, I was getting free lessons from Ginky, the best pool player in the world and I remember him saying to me in the midst of my college application process, “Shorty, wanna go on the road with me? I’d be your mentor. We could hustle”.

It sounded exciting, just like the Color of Money! Honestly, if I was more patient and listened to Sam and Ginky when they told me I needed to discipline myself, learn drills, play safety, practice everyday, I might have had a chance. And I was seriously thinking about forgoing college but I knew my dad would be absolutely devastated.

I still have a love for the game though. There’s nothing like standing in front of the table, all eyes on you.  As soon as my opponent racks the balls and steps away, I’ll always break the way Ginky taught me.

And last nite, I broke those balls so hard it was like a CRACK of thunder in that room.

“Dayum! This old guy said to me, “What a break! You got some arms!” I laughed and thanked him. Then I walked over to the jukebox and played some Eminem. The whole room started singing, dancing along to “Not Afraid”. The energy was cool. It brought back a lot of good memories.

“Serena, what’s with the Eminem” Sam said. “You’ve been playing it non-stop”.

“Hey, there ain’t nothing better than POOL and EM. Now rack ’em!!!”

The Wild Rover is located at 7103 Park Avenue, Guttenberg, NJ (201.662.WILD).

the Third Grade

It’s so hard to believe that my baby girl, who is a baby no more, will be entering the third grade tomorrow.

Sam and I are both excited yet scared at the same time, for she is growing up so fast before our very own eyes. I think if Sam could have it his way, he’d like to keep his baby girl a baby forever.

Over the few weeks during this summer break, I’ve witnessed their bond strengthened by Sam’s unemployment. Albeit there were times where we were yelling at him to stop playing video games, there was never a moment he wasn’t there for her.

We are so proud of her and couldn’t ask for a more responsible young lady. On the last day of the second grade, she had completed her homework packet for what most kids would have waited to complete now.

And when her aunt took her to see a Broadway play a few weeks ago, I told her to wear her new shoes and she said, “No mommy, I’m saving them for the first day of school. I don’t want them to get dirty”. I thought that was so cute.

And luckily I’ll be on vacation tomorrow so I’ll have the opportunity to walk her to school and meet her new teacher and breathe in all the excitement of that “First day of school”.

Good luck to all you parents out there who are reading and give yourselves a pat on the back for doing a great job as well. Parenting is hella hard and I give props to anyone who hasn’t given up because without a parent who is there for them, a child can become so lost.

God Bless.

Love,
Bena

Bruce Springsteen

I was about eight or nine years old when I first heard the Boss. I was immediately hooked.

My Uncle Norman would play him occasionally in between the Who, the Doors and us watching our daily 80’s sitcoms. I was living with him and my grandma by this time and I remember whenever he let me come into his room to chill, it was my favorite part of the day.

I don’t know many people outside of the Caucasian race who are fans of Bruce Springsteen but for some reason, perhaps it was because I was living in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood when I was young or I just connected with his lyrics about the oppressed and blue collar working class, I just knew that everytime his record was played or I heard him on the radio, I thought, “Wow, now here’s a guy who has something to say”.

When my aunt gave me the boxed collection of Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band Greatest Hits Live/1975-1985, I couldn’t believe it. It was like I had just received the greatest gift on earth.

I would play his records on my grandmother’s record player when she was at work and I would dance and sing by myself around her living room. I think Uncle Norman actually caught me once and started cracking up.

And then I went to my first Bruce concert.

I believe it was his “Tunnel of Love” tour back in 1987. I was eleven years old and when I looked around Madison Square Garden and saw that I was pretty much the only Asian person, probably the only eleven year old Asian girl there, I initially felt awkward. But then, as the stadium went dark and and lights flashed around the stage, I heard the audience break out into a thunderous applause and people were screaming Bruuuuuuuce!!!

That awkward feeling disappeared and I jumped up and started screaming with them.

For over 25 years I’ve been a big fan of his and he’s just one of those few singers who I truly admire and would never want to go away.

To me, he’ll always be THE BOSS🙂

Mads & Joey

Please check out this little video I made of my beautiful kids!

http://animoto.com/play/nm0FQesbHHRagFe4f8MJJw#

Rumba Cubana

An old friend of mine from Babson came to visit yesterday. I figured we take him to our favorite local Cuban restaurant since he loves the Latin culture and hasn’t had authentic Spanish food since he moved from Puerto Rico a year ago.

Hope you guys are having a great and lazy Sunday afternoon like me🙂

Samten Dakpa

Photo taken from: http://www.richard-gere.us/archives.html

I have met many artistic and spiritual people in my 34 years, but never have I encountered one with so much innate talent and yet is so humble that he laughed like a little boy when I praised him. His paintings have been bought by Richard Gere and hailed by the Dalai Lama.

A good friend of my mom’s, I met Mr. Dakpa at a Starbucks in Union Square, NYC over coffee and he told me his childhood story. I was in awe.

Mr. Dakpa was born in Khampa (Eastern Tibet) and the SEVENTH child of NINE kids!

At 8 years old, Madi’s age, he was not only a shepherd boy but he taught himself how to draw and sculpt.

His family were nomads and had no funds for even paper or pencils for Samten to draw with, but that didn’t stop him. My boy drew in the snow, dirt, earth and used rocks to make his own ink, it’s just incredible!

Thank you Ma for hooking me up with this gifted man and new friend🙂

Please check out Samten’s beautiful work at: http://www.samdak.com/

Future NBA

Little Joey Joe, gotta give him props for being so persistent!

My Interview with Dr. Charles Sophy

I had the opportunity last week to briefly interview Dr. Charles Sophy, Medical Director of the LA County Department of Children and Family Services. He is also board certified in Adult Psychiatry, Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and Family Practice.

The topic of discussion was parent and teenage texting and sexting, an increasing epidemic in our nation.

Interview with Dr. Charles Sophy

For more information on Dr. Sophy, check out his website at: http://www.drsophyonline.com/

Tagged

Diddy – “Hello Good Morning”

I love this song. I love the video. I’ve always been a big Diddy fan, don’t hate.

Poor Sam has to put up with me always talkin about Diddy this and Diddy that.

He actually had the opportunity to meet Puff Daddy during that notorious party at City College back in 1991 but fortunately passed. I say fortunately because a stampede broke out and nine people ended up dying.

I admire him for all the success he’s accomplished and hard work he’s put into the last what, two decades? And he’s still goin strong.

“Damn Sam, you’re from Harlem, you can rap…you could’ve been Diddy”

“I don’t want to be Diddy”

“I know, I’m just playin. There’s no way I could be with a Diddy anyway”🙂

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DkoeNLuMbcI&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xd0d0d0&hl=en_US&feature=player_detailpage&fs=1%5D

“Daddy Get That Cash”

I’m not talking about Sam here, although it would be nice🙂

It’s throwback time and I’m posting a music video by Styles P from back in 2002.

This was Madi’s debut…check her out at the 2:31 mark.

FYI – This music video is for adults!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORFWCdh53fc&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xd0d0d0&hl=en_US&feature=player_detailpage&fs=1%5D

It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over

I love this song, by Lenny Kravitz and today, I’m dedicating it to my hubby, Sam.

I don’t want people to get the wrong idea and think that we’re breaking up or even in the vicinity of that notion but marriage + kids = not easy. Especially this past year since he’s been unemployed. I’ll be honest, there where times I wanted to say c’est la vie but trust me, it goes both ways. I may be a simple person when it comes to material things but emotionally, I’m like a big ass Gucci bag and I don’t think any man is capable of dealing with that except Sam.

I’ve known Sam for 18 years now, that’s more than half of my life. I admit, I didn’t know him as well as I thought I did when he impregnanted me, which is probably why a lot of people were upset when they first discovered I was prego with Madi but I did know that he loved/loves me more than any man ever did/will.

When we first dated in our teens, I remember he was only 18 but he seemed light years ahead of me. He was everything I wanted in a boyfriend but I was too young to be tied down and we ended up parting after just a few weeks.

One night, he was drove me home from Amsterdam Billiards (where we first met). We were in his white Saab 900 and he had the sunroof open, it was a beautiful spring evening.

As we hit the Queensboro Bridge, out of nowhere, he says to me “I love you”.

I pretended I didn’t hear him.

“Serena, did you hear what I said? I LOVE you”

My heart started racing, I was not prepared for this conversation.

“Hello? Aren’t you going to say something?”

“What do you want me to say Sam?”

“Well, do you feel the same way?”

“Of course I love you”

“No, do you LOVE me, like I love you”

There was no easy way out of this. I knew I really cared for him but I was 16 and had just started “dating” and Sam was ready to make me his girl forever.

“Serena, if you don’t answer me, I’m going to stop this car on the bridge until you answer”

‘What? Yeah right”

Next thing you know, cars are whizzing by us on the friggin 59th Street bridge and Sam is sitting there all cool and collective.

“Noooooooooooooo….I don’t love you like that” I say

He put his foot on the gas, looked over at me, and said, “That’s all you had to say.”

We broke up shortly afterwards but always remained friends.

It’s amazing how far we have come. Just yesterday I was telling Madi how daddy and I have been engaged for 9 years now and we’re still not married. It’s okay though because I know in my heart that he is the one for me, despite what other people may think.

It’s not like he waited for me all those years but he was always there for me, even when I was dating other guys, he was still my friend.

Now, I never have to think twice about saying “I love you Sam”.

Crab Leg Frenzy!

So there’s this restaurant in Flushing, Queens where my family has gone to for years. If you like Chinese food, you should it check out:

http://www.eastbuffet.us/

They have two establishments in Flushing; one is on Kissena Blvd. and the other on Main Street. The one on Kissena specializes in hot pot (more noodles and soups). We usually frequent the one on Main Street, since Madi and I fancy the Peking duck and Sam loves the crab legs.

So check this little clip out and see what happens when the chefs bring out the crab legs. It’s virtually impossible to snag one unless you wait there like the rest of these crazy peeps.

I believe Sam was bum rushed by some little Chinese boy when he tried to cut the line🙂

Sam and Madi’s art

Hey guys, just wanted to share some Kao-Brooks household creativity today.

This is a recent painting Madi did the other day. I remember she woke up early in the AM and had this sudden urge to paint. She hasn’t named it yet but her little brother Joey says “Fish!” everytime he sees it.

This is a piece from Sam’s collection of “Bena” paintings. He started this back in 2001 when Madi was just a little teeny tiny fetus in my womb! I don’t really think she resembles me but the gesture was incredibly romantic🙂

Joey Joe in the Poconos

A little clip taken fourth of July weekend. I think he resembles me more🙂

the Notorious B.I.G.

It wouldn’t be right to write a post about 2Pac and not Bigs, even though I’ve been on this “I love Tupac” movement.

Honestly, I didn’t know who Biggie was until he died.

It was March 9th, 1997. One day before my 21st birthday and I was living and going to school in Argentina with my girlfriend Adena. I remember she got a call from her friend back in the states and I heard her scream from downstairs, as I was doing my homework on the second floor.

I raced downstairs and saw her open-mouthed and tearing.

“They shot Biggie. He’s dead” she said to me.

“Oh my God, I’m so sorry”

“Biggie who?” I asked her.

She looked at me like I head two heads. Afterall, I should have known who Biggie was. They played his music at all our college parties and Petey idolized him. The name just didn’t register and I guess I couldn’t believe how upset she was over his death.

Now I get it.

Better late than never, I say. I just wasn’t that interested in rap/hip-hop back then. I was still going through my Spanish and dance music phase during that time.

But now, I’ve been listening to Puff Daddy/Diddy’s “No Way Out”, “Life after death”, and Biggie’s “Duets” which I love, especially the first track with Eminem.

I saw an interview with Bigs and Diddy after Tupac was shot and I just started cracking up because Bigs had his oversized, Black Versace sunglasses on and I remember one day Petey was rockin the same eyewear.

“What the hell are you wearing?” I said to him as he stepped into his mom’s brand new BMW.

“What, you don’t like?” he asked.

“I dunno, they’re um, a little flashy don’t you think?”

But that was Pete. He loved flashy.

And he LOVED Biggie Smalls. EAST COAST🙂

RIP Mr. Christopher Wallace

Pac

Yes, my obsession with TUPAC AMARU SHAKUR continues…

As a matter of fact, the FUSE channel has been airing all kinds of Tupac stuff for their HIP HOP INVASION series and this past weekend, I watched “Resurrection”, “Biggie and Tupac”, “Tupac: Before I Wake”, over and over again.

This is what I do when I become interested in something. I become infactuated. I want to know everything about him.

From what I do know, he is very inspiring. I listen to his greatest hits at work and I love California Love, Changes, God Bless the Dead, Me Against the World , and of course Dear Mama.

I joked to Sam yesterday that I was going to get a tattoo of THUG LIFE to which he replied, “Oh my God, you are living in the 90’s!”

Anyway, I just think Pac was revolutionary.

And he was REAL, although I think he appeared to be a lot tougher then he really was but you have to be, if you’re from the streets. Even he admitted that he was “very soft”.

His mother, who was a member of the Black Panthers, was actually prego with Pac when she was incarcerated. I thought that was kinda ironic considering when he was a kid, he couldn’t wait to get to jail because he thought that’s what made you a man. Then he ended up going to jail and getting beatin the shyt out of by the POlice.

He really had some bad luck and I believe, it was his time to go, he really was suffering.

At the end of Resurrection, he said, “I’m not saying that I will change the world. But I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world. Keep your head up and then inside of you, I will be reborn.”

Reborn he is.

RIP 2PAC

Flowers Family Reunion 2009

I know, I have no excuse for not posting more pictures of my beautiful family but I’m notorious for procrastinating🙂

Here are some shots from Sam’s family reunion last year in Catawba, North Carolina.

Madison and her cousins

Me and Sammy Sam lookin older and meatier than back in da days...

Finally, a pic of my awesome mother in law...

I know there’s more out there but just wanted to post these. If you guys haven’t ventured down south yet, it’s really beautiful and the people are so warm and genuine.

I LOVE the SOUTH!

Siblings

It’s funny, I look at old photos of me when I was younger and I see Joey. That pudgy little face and chubby arms, that quirky smile.

He and his sister Mads have developed an inexplicable bond. You could even compare it to what my little bro and I had back in the day.

We were like two peas in a pod. Just like Madi and Joey.

I remember we used to get into some crazy shyt, mostly because of me.

Once my parents went out and my aunt was watching us. We had a staircase in our living room about 20 steps deep that led to the 2nd floor. My brother and I would love racing up the stairs and racing back down in potato sacks. Well, pillow cases actually.

And so there we are at the top of the stairs, I must have been about 5 or 6 years old, my brother 2 years younger.

“When I say Ready, Set, Go, you GO! Okay?” I say with mucho authority.

But as soon as I say “Ready, Set…” he takes off down the stairs and I’m left standing at the top steaming, while he’s at the bottom of the steps claiming victory.

“That doesn’t count, you cheated. Let’s do it over” I say, while concocting this vengeful plan in my head as he schleps back up the staircase.

We place our little selves in our little sacks and without hesitation, I push him as hard as I can and to my horror, he starts to tumble down the staircase, hitting his head against our Emerson television that was placed next to the stairs.

Why a TV was there, I do not know, but there were many misplaced items in the Kao household if you ask me =)

I immediately run down the staircase, my maternal instincts kicking in.

“Oh my God, are you okay Brian?”

But he’s not okay, he’s got a big ass gash on his head and blood is oozing out of it. My aunt comes running in from the kitchen, screaming at me in Chinese.

Next thing I know, Ma and Ba enter the house. Talk about great timing!

“Ah-ya! Sa-deena!” That’s how my mom says my name, in her Chinglish accent. “Wha happen?”

“I don’t know. We were playing and he just fell down the stairs!” I say with my fingers crossed behind my back.

My brother is wailing, too distraught to speak. All you can hear is “Se-Se-Se-“ in between sobs. Poor kid couldn’t even get my name out.

I put my arm around him and give him a big hug. “He’s okay, just give him some Pi-Bao-Gao” this Chinese black syrupy medicine my dad would always give us when we had colds and other various ailments.

“Ah-ya, Sa-deena, what I do with you?” she says looking down at me.

When I got home from work yesterday I found Joey in my bedroom, sitting in my bottom drawer with a blanket and pillow. He was watching the Disney movie “Cars” for the twentieth time.

“Mama! Mama! Cars!”

“Joey, what the heck are you doing in there?”

“Mama! Mama! Cars!”

“Madison! Why is your brother chillin in my dresser drawer?”

“Oh, he wanted me to put him in there”

“Oh really. He wanted you to put him in there”

She smiles, that mischievous smile.

“Ah-ya, what am I going to do with you two?”

Ma always said her greatest revenge would be when I had my own kids ;-P

God Bless the Dead

…as Tupac used to rap.

The last time I saw Pete was maybe 3 months after Madi was born back in 2002.

He came to my house, he was the biggest he’d ever been.

“Yo shorty, I’m going to Shanghai! I need to talk to your pops!” he said.

“Wow, are you serious?”

“Werd. My moms wants me to start over, get my life together. I’m going to study Chinese.”

I couldn’t believe it, I was happy for him although at that time, I was really disappointed in the fact that he didn’t come to the hospital when I gave birth to Madi nor did he come visit me afterwards.

We ended up bumping into each other on Kissena Blvd. in Flushing by chance, a month after Madi was born.

“Wow, she’s so cute!” he said.

But he never got to hold her.

Never got to take a photo with her.

“So my moms and I, we’re going to buy Madi some clothes and I’ll be back later. What size is she?”

“She’s wearing like 6-9 months now but tell your mom it’s okay, don’t go crazy.”

He and Sam then stepped onto the balcony to smoke a butt and chat.

“Aight guys, I’ll see you later.”

I wish I would have hugged him, told him I loved him and wished him well.

Actually, if I could turn back time, I would’ve begged him to stay with us, forever.

He never returned that night, as a matter of fact, he never even said good-bye before he left for China.

I got an email from him a few weeks later, saying he was doing well.

I was happy for him, I always prayed he’d get his life together.

The summer passed and in November, I received a phone call from a mutual friend.

“Serena, did you hear the news? About Peter?”

“No, what happened?”

“He passed away in China.”

I had already been going through my postpartum depression and the news of his death made me feel like any dude that fought Mike Tyson in the ring. It just knocked me the fuck out.

I was numb. I heard my friend speaking on the other line but I couldn’t say anything other than, “What? Are you sure?”

I hung up the phone and immediately told Sam. He couldn’t believe it either.

I didn’t cry or anything, I was just numb.

It’s weird, it happened 8 years ago but I mourn his death more now than ever before. And it doesn’t get easier, it gets harder.

Sometimes I’ll be on the train or at work and something or someone will remind me of him and I’ll just start balling.

But when I come home and see my kids and little Joey screams “Mommeeeeeeeee”, I just smile and think of him as little Pete and big Pete is lookin out for us, from above.

God Bless Peter Kim.

Kimchi-Jigae

Sometimes I think I was Korean in my past life because I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Kimchi Jigae.

Actually I love all kinds of Korean food.

My boy Pete would take me to all the awesome Korean restaurants in Flushing (back in the day) and he’d order Bulgogi, Kalbi, Bimbimbop, Pajun and of course Kimchi Jigae.

“Yo, why we gotta order when they give us all the free sides?” I used to say to him.

“Oh my god, would you stop being so Chinese? You can’t just eat the sides and shit, you have to order! Don’t embarrass me” he used to say.

Over the years, I have grown this addiction to Kimchi Jigae which is like a stew/soup containing scallions, tofu, pork, seafood and kimchi. You can basically include or exclude certain ingredients but after trial and error, I finally discovered that I love my Jigae with pan fried SPAM.

I used to go to this spot on Tonnelle Avenue in Ridgefield, NJ when I first moved to Jersey a few years ago. I would call in and pick it up and it’d cost me nearly $10 but it was always worth it.

When I first moved to North Bergen and didn’t know where to get Jigae, I drove into NYC this one time because I was so desperate.

Madi was about 5 years old and I remember driving in, picking up the soup and driving right back to Jersey.

I then took her to the park and as I started unpacking my Jigae and ravaging it right there and then by the monkey bars, she goes, “Are you really going to eat that here Mommy? It stinks!”

Mind you, Kimchi is pickled cabbage and isn’t exactly a fond smell for everyone.

“Oh hell yeah, you go play girl” I said. Nobody gets in between me and my Jigae.

When I was prego with Joey, I was craving Jigae all the time. My doctor was Korean and when I had asked her if it was okay to eat spicy foods, she said, “Sure, of course.”

I was in prego heaven!

And when Sam refused to go get me my Jigae one night because he didn’t want to lose our parking spot, I think I flipped out so hard that the entire neighborhood learned of my fetish for the soup.

These days, I now go to H-Mart (Korean Market) on Tonnelle Ave. I found out that I could just purchase the pre-maid soup in a container for $3.99 and then I add my own rice and SPAM to it, and voila! Heaven!

I don’t know why I’m so addicted. I just love the spices and the aroma and I think it brings back a lot of nostalgia when I eat it.

“Yo, you’re gonna love this stuff Shorty. It’s mad spicy but it’s good for you.” Pete used to say.

He was right.

Whenever I eat it, I’m happy, full and I think of him =)

FYI: The photo above was taken from: http://norecipes.com/2009/11/18/kimchi-jigae-recipe-kimchi-soup/

Single Parents

This post is long overdue, as a matter of fact, I promised a very good friend of mine about a year ago that I would write this but somehow, I got derailed along the way. So, without further adieu, I dedicate this blog to Suj and all the other single parents out there who fight for their kids, everyday.

I can’t exactly say I know what it’s like to be a single mother although it sure has felt like it at times over the last year. Raising two kids on one income (especially my income) really sucks, especially if your hubby was making more than you. But like I said in my previous post, I’m not going to bitch about it anymore because it doesn’t solve anything.

So I feel for my friends who are either going through a divorce or separation, or have been raising their kid(s) on their own because of a philandering ex or for whatever the reason is and this goes for the single mom or single dad because it’s not just the women who have sole custody of the kids these days.

I have two kids and I’m so used to Sam being home and helping me (if I need it) with whatever it is. Even if it’s simply grocery shopping or taking the kids to the park, I always prefer Sam to be there because little Joey is just a rambunctious boy and can honestly be a lot to handle. I don’t know how moms of 3 or more do it!

I really do have a newfound appreciation and admiration for single parents. Like my friend Suj, who has been raising her son on her own since he was born. You an clearly see from her Facebook page how much she loves him and is a dedicated mother who finds the strength to wake up every morning and fight for him.

I’m not quite sure what I’d do if I were a single mom. I remember when I was younger, my mom had to take care of the three of us when my dad was going through some personal stuff. I’m sure she felt like a single mother at times.

And as I got older and my mom found her passion in flowers, once she opened her flower shop, we barely saw her at home because she had to work night and day. I’m sure my dad felt like he was a single father at times.

But at least I had either one of them to go to, as well as my mom and dad’s side of the family. Unfortunately, some people don’t have any support and it makes it all the more difficult for them.

Single parents are so much stronger and are just heroic to me because either way you look at it, you have to be both a mother and a father for them. But what’s important is that you try and that you are there for them.

God bless.

from Hannah Montana to MILEY CYRUS…

Last Friday nite I was flipping through our basic channels (since our cable has been put on hold temporarily and the only thing that caught my attention was channel 7 (ABC).

It was Miley Cyrus giving a concert in London. She was jamming on stage in a tight leather get-up and she was flipping her hair so many times and showing off her cleavage that I decided NOT to call Madi into my room to watch her.

I had asked someone a few weeks ago about what they thought of Miley’s um, “new look” and she said, “Give the girl a break, everyone should leave her alone. Let her grow up!”

I have no problem with this opinion (granted this person does not have kids) but what I do have beef with is the fact that DISNEY exploits these young girls and because there’s no Junior Disney or Adult Disney specified, we’re left to feel kind of lost.

I think Miley overextended her stay at Disney and why wouldn’t she? They were paying her a whole lot of cheese.

But there wasn’t a transition from HANNAH MONTANA to MILEY CYRUS. I mean, there were references to her in the press saying she was done with the show and yada, yada and next thing you know, she’s on the cover of Vanity Fair with nothing but a sheet wrapped around her.

Okay, so you wanna be sexy and sultry now but the problemo is that my daughter, a very impressionable kid who has been following Miley since she was like 2 years old, now sees Miley wearing underwear on stage and dancing like a stripper.

So of course, she wants to replicate those moves and I have to be like, “Um, yeah. You are EIGHT years old, you need to chill with that.”

I’m all for Miley growing up and I will admit that she is very talented but I would much rather see Madi idolizing someone like SELENA GOMEZ or MIRANDA COSGROVE.

I highly doubt you’ll see these young ladies being so eager to take their clothes off, even if it’s ANNE LEBOWITZ taking their pic.

Turning 40

   
    
   

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