Songs I am Digging

Did I just use the word, “digging”? As if I actually use that word in real life. Well, whatever. It’s a mentally slow day (more like week, really) and my brain is lagging. So, we are just going to listen to music today. Here are some songs I am enjoying on the radio. Let me know what songs you’re enjoying in the comments.

1) Holding On for Life – Broken Bells
The first few times I heard this on the radio, I kept thinking, “When did the BeeGees make a new song?” Well, I’ve since found out it’s a guy from The Shins and a guy from Modest Mouse teaming up together. For the record, even though Hapa Papa thinks I am full of it, other people (Google says so) think the song sounds like the BeeGees, too.

2) Young Girls – Bruno Mars
I don’t know why I like this song other than I just do. It makes me happy.

3) Talk Dirty – Jason Derulo ft. 2Chainz

Even though I find the lyrics completely deplorable (which is most rap music to me), I find the sax in this song dirty and grindy and yes, I like it. I try to zone out the words because when I actually hear them, they totally piss me off. This is a case where I’m annoyed that I find the song so catchy and I worry for my children because I may have to stop listening to the radio if they have to hear shitty, misogynistic shit like this on the daily. (Oh my word, did I just say, “On the daily”?)

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Cover Me

I didn’t appropriately account for how exhausted I would be with Christmas, visiting family, plumbing issues (not a euphemism – literal plumbing problems), and Glow Worm sleeping erratically these last few days. So, you all get another fluff piece (TWSS).

Best covers that are better than the original (sampling doesn’t count). Discuss in the comments. My favorites are below in no particular order (edited to reflect Hapa Papa reminding me what I really love):

1) Travis – Hit Me Baby One More Time (covering Britney Spears)

Who knew this song was so melancholy and deep?

2) Tori Amos – Smells Like Teen Spirit (covering Nirvana)

Well, pretty much anything Tori covers is better than the original, but I hate the Nirvana version so that means Tori’s version must be super awesome.

3) No Doubt – It’s My Life (covering Talk Talk)

The original is good but this one is so much better!

4) The Sundays – Wild Horses (covering The Rolling Stones)

LOVE LOVE LOVE.

5) Johnny Cash – Hurt (covering Nine Inch Nails)

So good people think NIN is covering Cash.

6) Mary J. Blige – One (covering U2)

Come on! It’s just too awesome! (But Hapa Papa doesn’t consider it a cover since Bono is also in it. Whatever.)

My Top 3 Christmas Pop Songs

Merry Christmas, party people! Hope you and yours are having a great day full of memory making activities. (Oh, let’s face it. If you have small children, hope today is not like every other day and you have 0-1 meltdowns and time outs. And that you got to sleep in an extra ten minutes.) If you don’t celebrate Christmas, then, happy Wednesday. 😀 Enjoy your day off courtesy of the tyranny of the hybrid religious/pagan festival from pseudo-Christianity!

In light of the festivities (and also because I’m sure you want to get back to that merry-making vs. trolling the interwebs – get back to your family, you!), here are my Top 3 Christmas Pop Songs of my youth. I would come up with something more recent were I aware of any.

3) River – Joni Mitchell

Ok, so it’s sad and melancholy and depressing. The best kind of music! And perfect for the holidays if you’re feeling The Sads this time of year.

2) Last Christmas – WHAM!

Um, because this song is AWESOME. AWESOME. Hapa Papa and I randomly quote this song throughout the year. Because WE are awesome.

1) All I Want for Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey

Instant classic. This song makes me super happy always. 😀 I don’t care that it’s cheesy and overplayed. LOVE IT. I remember when I used to work in Hollywood on Hollywood Blvd right across from the Scientology building and every Christmas, they would play holiday music on full blast for two weeks and I would hear this song at least a million times a day so by the time Christmas rolled around, I had heard it at least 14 million times (true fact). It hasn’t affected my love in the slightest. Enjoy!

Alright, your turn! What are your favorite Christmas pop songs? Tell me in the comments and include the YouTube link if you can!

The Prodigal Father

A lot of people have been sharing articles by Matt Walsh lately and I totally understand why. After reading a few of his blog entries, I find myself, more often than not, agreeing with him. I even subscribe to his blog so he shows up in my Feedly blog reader.

However, I have always felt a little uneasy when I read his blog and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until recently. Walsh’s writing taps into that part of myself that I try to tamp down because it is hyper critical, scathing, and lacking in grace. This not a knock against Walsh. I think many of his entries are truthful and true and at any rate, I don’t think he is a cruel or graceless person. In fact, I think he is like many of us, frustrated with “the way things are,” intelligent, a good writer, and generally, a good person. (Not that it really matters what I think of him anyway.) Really, it is likely just me and my own personal hang ups.

You see, Walsh’s writing reminds me of the elder son from the parable, The Prodigal Son.

My college Christian Fellowship was obsessed with this parable. We heard months worth of talks on the parable. Did numerous Bible studies on it. We even referred to it by a way cooler name: The Prodigal Father. Most of it was cribbed from The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming by Henri Nouwen.

Here’s the tl;dr version: A rich man had two sons. One day the younger son goes to his father, and says, “Hey, let’s pretend you’re dead and you can give me my inheritance now, ok?” The father agrees and the younger son goes whoring it up and spends all his money. He finds himself eating from a pig trough and realizes that even the servants in his father’s house eat better than that so he decides to go home and beg to be a servant.

When he nears his home, his father sees him from a great distance and comes running out, rolling out the red carpet, rejoicing that his son has returned to him. The man throws a huge party and kills a fatted calf.

The older son, who had stayed behind is super pissed off when he hears of his brother’s return (especially when he finds out about the party). He goes off and sulks and when his father chases him down and asks him why, he answers:

“Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!”

“My son,” the father said, “you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”

– Luke 15:29-32 NIV

Look, I’m not saying Walsh is the elder son in real life. I have no idea! I don’t know the guy and really, his spiritual state is between himself and God. All I know is that Walsh’s writing pushes a button inside of me and that button says, “Elder Son Alert!”

It’s not something I’m particularly proud of, but there it is. I’m a lot mellower about it now, but I’m still a stickler to the rules at heart. I’m a douche bag extraordinaire when it comes to finding fault with EVERYTHING and I get pissed when I think people are getting away with stuff. (Of course, I conveniently forget when I get a free pass, but details, details, people!)

Anyhow, not sure what my point with this post is, but ultimately, I don’t want to be either son. I want to be like the father, who is prodigal (ie: wastefully extravagant) to both his ungrateful children. The father lavishes love and resources on both his kids even though the older son seems to think his father is a horrible slave master and the younger son only comes home because he is hungry. I can only hope to love my own children this way – let alone random people.

I leave you with some shameless self promotion. Back when I was a senior at UCLA, I wrote a song from the elder son’s point of view and my awesome and talented composer friend, Chris Wong, made it sound much better. If you don’t want to sit through the video for the lyrics, I’ve posted them at the end.

I spent too many hours figuring out how to make a lyrics video for YouTube last night so I am not only proud of this song but of the video. I’m surprised I could even make it happen considering it takes me at least ten times longer to learn anything new nowadays – let alone succeed at it. But hey, old dog and new tricks.

Also, this recording is more than fourteen years old! WHAT?!

The Elder Song

Oh, God
What has become of my system?
What has become of my life?
It has fallen down.

Oh, God
What will become of my faith?
What will become of me now?
I am down.

Free falling
down
down
down

Oh, God
How could you allow this to happen?
How could you stand by and watch
Me break down?

Why did you do this?
Why have you made me fall?
Was I not faithful?
Did I not follow your call?

Why won’t you give me?
Why won’t you bless me?
What a miserly God

Did I slave for you?
Did I slave for you?
All these years?

Oh, my God
Where have I pushed you away to?
When did I leave home behind?
I was slaving away.

Oh, God
I see you embracing my brother
I hear you choke on his name
and I wonder

Would you do the same for me?
Would you do the same for me?

– Mandarin Mama

When Did *I* Become the Grown Up in the Room?

Ladies and gentleman, I am thirty-five years old, have three small children, am married, and own a business with my mother. Yet somehow, when I stop and think about it, I am completely baffled by this turn of events. How have I been entrusted with the daily responsibility of keeping alive three babies? More importantly, how have I kept them alive so long?

I recall about three and a half years ago, I was giving a talk to a bunch of junior high girls for the Soroptimists (I am not one, but an acquaintance of mine was) at a local high school. All of a sudden, someone pulled the fire alarm and we had to evacuate the class room. I looked around for an adult to follow and then stopped short. HOLY FUCKING SHIT. I was the adult. I had to make sure all the girls in my class met at the appropriate meeting point and then accompany them back to the classroom. What the what?

IT BLEW MY MIND.

How in the world did this happen? Who allowed this? To whom should I lodge a complaint?

I don’t know if it’s the Impostor Syndrome, the fact that I think I’m younger than I really am, or just complete denial of reality. But I find it so weird.

Does anyone else feel like this? That their view of themselves hasn’t quite caught up to reality yet?

I mean, I know I am a mother now. A grown up taking care of small children that are MINE (for reals) and that no one is coming to take away. I have responsibilities and I perform them (reasonably well). Yet STILL. It seems strange.

Granted, it is less surreal now than it was about four years ago when I was just about to have Cookie Monster. I wonder if that feeling of “Is this really my life?” will ever go away? Or whether at every stage in life I’ll still be somewhat surprised. I am reminded of these lyrics from the song, Once in a Lifetime.

You may find yourself in a beautiful house with a beautiful wife
You may ask yourself, “Well, how did I get here?”

You may tell yourself, “This is not my beautiful house.”
You may tell yourself, “This is not my beautiful wife.”

– Once in a Lifetime, Talking Heads

When I was younger and heard this song on the radio, I thought it was one of the stupidest things ever and hated the song. It made no sense to me. How could anyone not know their house or their wife? Plus, I thought the song sounded weird. Then, when I heard it in the trailer for the Nicolas Cage movie, The Family Man, and finally watched it, I started to like the song because it reminded me of the movie (which I really enjoyed). But it was only after I had Cookie Monster that I finally understood what the song was talking about.

I know. I was a little late to the party.

Now, I absolutely LOVE this song. It perfectly captures my bewilderment when I really stop and look at my life. I never in a million years would’ve thought I’d be a SAHM with three kids (and contemplating one, perhaps two, more). I thought I would be just like my own mother and work. After all, I turned out ok, right? RIGHT?

I remember a friend of mine telling me once her son was born, she knew that she was born to be his mother. She put on hold her career as an optometrist (a career she loved) and became a SAHM to three kids. When she told me this, I was stunned. I just couldn’t imagine someone giving up a career (temporarily, obviously) for a BABY.

I clearly lack imagination.

As soon as I saw Cookie Monster‘s squishy little face and huge dark eyes, I knew – just knew – that I was made to be his mother. Three kids later, I still know to the core of my being that being a mom is the best thing that has ever happened to me and that I don’t mind being a SAHM at all. In fact, I LOVE it. It is what I was born to do. I would rather do this than any other job (well, except perhaps the job where I get paid to lay around all day reading, watching TV, and stuffing my piehole with as much food as possible. Or as Hapa Papa would call it, “The Weekend.” As soon as Friday hits, I have a tendency to forget I’m a parent and force him to take care of our children solo.)

Anyhow, this is all just a rambling long post just to say that I can’t believe this is my life – but I am ever so grateful.

And with that, I leave you with the live version of Once in a Lifetime on YouTube since I can’t find the album version of this song.

Will You Still Love Me When I’m No Longer Young and Beautiful?

I’m not gonna lie to you, Marge. I think I’m beautiful. It sounds so wrong to say it, but I have eyes. I can look in the mirror. (I won’t kid myself and say what I really mean is that I’m beautiful on the inside. We all know I am the vain, flighty sort.) Sure, I’d look much better if I made any sort of remote effort to dress well or wear makeup, but I am really far too lazy and practical.

I used to tell Hapa Papa all the time that I was the better looking half of the relationship. He would retort, “For now…

Don ‘t all fight for him at once, ladies. He’s all mine.

Because although it may not be objectively true, it certainly is culturally true. (The only thing I’ve got going for me is that I’m Asian so I should age well. But Hapa Papa is half Asian, so it really could be a toss up.) After all, men allegedly just get better looking and more attractive as they grow older. (Personally, I think the thicker bank account has more to do with this “attractiveness,” but I digress.) Women, on the other hand, do not. Apparently we shrivel up and turn into desiccated old-lady husks as soon as we hit twenty-five.

Sometimes, I really despise American beauty standards.

Anyhow, I bring this up because a few weeks ago, I heard Lana Del Rey’s song, Young and Beautiful, on So You Think You Can Dance. I know I’m the leaky sort anyway, (from many parts of my body – but I blame that on babies and hormones. Too much?) but I teared up. I found the chorus particularly sad, lonely, and true to the insecurities we all have from time to time.

Will you still love me
When I’m no longer young and beautiful?
Will you still love me
When I got nothing but my aching soul?
I know you will, I know you will
I know that you will
Will you still love me when I’m no longer beautiful?

– Young and Beautitful, Lana Del Rey
(You can find the full lyrics here.)

I initially heard it as more of a woman desperately trying to convince herself that the person she loves will still love her. But perhaps it is more the quiet declaration of a woman confident in her lover’s long-spanning love. I don’t know. Personally, I tend towards the cynical, but that’s a different topic for another day.

What this song really does, though, is make me feel sad and melancholy.

I think of Fiddler On the Roof’s song, Do You Love Me?

I remember the vows people make when they marry – to love and cherish the other person for better or worse, until death do they part – and that these vows are supposed to be the answer to the poignant question, “Will you still love me?” And yet, the question still has to be asked because in our American culture, people are disposable and vows aren’t really all what they used to be. 

I think about infidelity and how people always ask if the other woman is younger and more beautiful as if that’s a valid reason to leave a wife. 

I think of Hapa Papa and how I was a little dismayed after having Cookie Monster because my stomach got all poochy and my body was a little lumpier than before and how Hapa Papa told me he thought I was beautiful because my body grew and birthed Cookie Monster and wasn’t it worth it to have him even if my body had changed?

So is it any wonder that the song stirred up a longing to be loved that deeply and steadfastly? I’m just so grateful that I am.

Here’s the song for you to enjoy. I’ve also included the video for the dance. I won’t tell if you get something in your eyes.

What Is Love?

Every time I have a conversation with my mother-in-law about love and the nature of love, I come away astounded. For some reason, she thinks that she is not a loving person because she is not affectionate (eg: she doesn’t hug, kiss, or whatever) and doesn’t really think of the kids too much or worry about them when she’s not here. She claims she is a cold person because she is not like my mother, nor is she like the grandmothers and mothers on television.

Each time she says that, I respond with, “You know that television isn’t real, right?”

I know. I’m an ass.

It pains me to hear my MIL tear herself down this way. Not because I’m such a great daughter-in-law (I’m not. I’m utterly terrible.), but because it’s such a lie!! Despite what she thinks, my MIL is a very loving and kind person. For example:

1) She dutifully attends birthday parties, etc. even though she HATES dealing with people and strangers. She is very self-conscious and absolutely CANNOT STAND being at the parties – but she comes anyway. After a few years of this torture, I’ve finally relented and have ceased to force her to attend. We end up having a smaller, family party that includes her, and have a bigger party for ME. (Let’s face it, it’s not really for the kids.)

2) She goes out of her way to come visit us from LA every few months or so. I mentioned how she hates being in public, right? She also has a veritable menagerie at her house and it’s difficult for her to be away that long from all her pets. This is a BIG DEAL.

3) Every time she comes up, she brings a small little toy for my kids. I used to hate the toys she would bring. (Mostly because they were all made in China and you know, the toys would likely be radioactive or full of lead or something.) But I got over it when I realized every single toy she has brought is always the toy that all the kids who come over to our house fight over. ALWAYS. She is the toy whisperer.

4) Every time she comes, she plays with the kids, tells them stories, brings them stickers, and the kids adore her and adore playing with her. She walks with them to the park, shows an interest in their lives, and is generally present.

My MIL says that because she is not physically or vocally affectionate with the children and isn’t exactly like my mother, that she’s a bad grandmother. But that is so stupid because no one is asking her to be MY mother. We’re asking her to be present with my kids – and she IS. I try to explain to her that I don’t care about what she says or hugs, etc. It’s what she DOES that is most important. It’s her TIME with the kids that is conveying love to my children – and vicariously, to me.

You see, on the outside, my father seemed to be a very loving person. He was effusive in affection, always hugging, kissing, holding hands, calling me (and my mother) his sweetheart, his love, his precious. He bought presents – sometimes very lavish, and threw big romantic gestures. All the while, he was unfaithful to my mother multiple times with various women. He abandoned our entire family for years at a time. He stole and lied and physically threatened our family. He robbed my uncle and my cousins of their inheritance (not to mention my brother and I). He paraded his mistress in China around to his family, telling them she was his new wife (he was still married to my mother), claimed God blessed him with another son (did I mention he was still married to my mother?), and tried to convert his family to “follow Jesus” and become Christian. (I find that the MOST foul.)

Despite his many proclamations of “love,” I had never felt more unlovable in all my life.

This is why I don’t care about flowers or gifts or romance. I mean, it’s nice. I’m not stupid. But to me, I find most of these gestures meaningless. I far prefer my boring, day to day love with Hapa Papa. I know we mock each other all the time and pretend we don’t want to spend time with one another. (Ok, that’s not so much pretend, but it’s not unpleasant to spend time with him.) But ultimately, I know, deep in my cold, dark heart, that Hapa Papa is utterly devoted to me and the kids and the rest of his family (including my own). I know, because every day, he proclaims it in all the tedious minutiae of working, washing dishes, and taking care of the kids. Every day, he is present and HERE, sacrificing his time and energy for us.

Do you know that Hapa Papa has no free time for himself? He is always working or with the kids. His free time is his daily 2-3 hour round-trip commute. Even though he loves sports and would love to watch all the various games on TV, when he comes home, he focuses on the kids and plays with them, gives them a bath, reads them stories, and puts them to bed – even during playoffs. After which, he does more work.

His two indulgences? Sports stats and watching Suits (of which there are only thirteen 1 hour episodes a year).

Even when I give him free time to do whatever he wants, he usually naps or gets a haircut. (See, I’m not entirely cruel.) Every now and then, he hangs out with his friends. Sometimes, I practically have to force him to get out of the house.

I think he’s crazy. I practically beg to go out and play with my friends or spend hours reading books without any thought at all.

He never complains.

Now, I realize that just because someone doesn’t have a life doesn’t mean it’s love. Nor does having a life mean it’s not love. My main point is that love is not so much the sweet words and romantic gestures. Love is time served and hard work. You know, like prison. But a prison made of love.

And now, your earworm for the day. (How is that for a segue?) You know it was already in your head just from reading the title. You’re welcome.