Jess and a mural

Reunited: Hapas back together again

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On a Brooklyn rooftop.

Three gals who met working together in Orlando, all at a party on Brooklyn rooftop, circa 2005. Hapas center and right. ;)

This past Saturday, I drove over the Bay Bridge to Emeryville to have dinner with a dear old friend. She, her partner and her baby boy had just relocated from New Jersey the week before. It was the first time I met the little guy who, as you can see from the photo at the bottom of this post, can sport a very serious demeanor for one so young!

Though technically 10 months old, he came into the world a little early, so he’s more like an 8-month-old. I remember talking to his scared mom in the hospital last June when they weren’t sure how things would turn out … But just look at him! He turned out perfect!

J and I have been friends since 2000 when we bonded working for a publication in Orlando, Florida. Back then, and I guess even now, Orlando was not the most diverse of places. It was shocking to relocate there after living in Berkeley, California, for five years. I remember thinking that I was no longer Hapa here. From the moment I returned to my home state of Florida, I was at worst “a slant-eyed starch-lover” and at best “Chinese.” It was like all I had learned, all I had been part of and fought for and discovered, didn’t matter anymore. There was no room for multiracial dialogue here. Getting someone to say “Asian” or “Asian American” instead of “Oriental” was feat enough in itself.

V & J smiling

This was when J and I lived in Brooklyn and only a short bike ride apart — she was in Park Slope and I was in Cobble Hill, circa 2008.

It was special to have a fellow Hapa at work. It was also revealing. In many ways we were a lot alike. We both had Asian mothers who came from their respective countries of origins in their 20′s. We both had American fathers. And we both had been raised in the South in somewhat fanatical evangelical households. But then she was Filipino and African American, and I was Korean and Caucasian. The world looked at us as two very different people, even though when we talked about life, our Asian mothers and our experiences with religion, we shared so much.

J and I would both end up in New York City for many years, including a magical time when we were both in Brooklyn, which is when I took that pic of her at the top of this post. But in 2009 I moved to SF and she went to Seattle. J would return to the Big Apple once again before making this latest trip West.

Over dinner we talked about the couple’s recent trip to Ireland to visit her partner’s family. Cork was beautiful, she said, but not very diverse. One part of her would live there, but the other part knew she didn’t want to be one of the few “brown” people in town. We talked a little about California, about being mixed and about being Hapa. “People don’t blink an eye at mixed kids here anymore,” I told her. “I know,” she said. “Almost every other family I see here is mixed.”

It feels surreal to have this dear old friend as a neighbor again — third time’s a charm! I hope they love it here.

Picture of quapa kid

OK, so just look at this little Quapa gem — Filipino-African American mom and a dad who came all the way over from Cork, Ireland. What a cutie!

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Hapa Time: Mixed Chicks takes on hair care

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Noticed this brand of hair care products, Mixed Chicks, at Target today and, of course, wanted to buy it. Alas! It is for those of the curly haired persuasion … I haven’t had curls since I was four years old and even then, they were merely soft ringlets. Of course, I still wasted several years of my adolescence attempting to achieve curly hair via perms. (I blame the 80s and, since Florida liked the styles of the 80s so much, I have to blame a bit of the early 90s too.)

At any rate, I love the verbiage on the box. It’s like, OK curly-haired folks of every color and “any glorious combination” of these colors, we’ve got something just for you. Yay! If any of you curly-headed folk have had the chance to try it out, let me know! ;)

Oh and the kid pic carousel on their website is pretty darn cute too!

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In the Garden: Don’t call it a comeback!

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Last summer, an old friend came by my apartment for the first time. He noticed how many plants I had around the house and how healthy they looked … And then he saw my orchid.

“I guess you’re letting this one die,” he said, gesturing toward the plant.

“No!” I insisted. “This guy’s gonna come back!”

True, it was looking sad — almost stalk-less. But it had managed to grow a few new leaves and then there were the green(ish) roots.

Fast forward six months and, voila! The little green stalk that could began showing signs of spring. Then came the buds and then, last week, BAM! A flower!

Oh, of all the orchids I’ve loved before (and for which my love could not revive), this bud’s for you!

In my little, fast-paced and overly dramatic mind, I’m thinking, maybe this is a sign! Maybe new things I previously couldn’t get off the ground/get out the door/or get a handle on will suddenly start moving forward again or even for the first time.

Or then maybe it’s a lot simpler than that … Maybe I’ve just become mature and mindful enough to pay attention to what plants need. Either that, or this is a particularly persevering plant. ;)

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I was so stoked when buds began to form on what had been a sad little green stalk.

plant being watered

I am not sure what one is supposed to do with orchids, but I hose mine down each week like a tropical storm is passing by …

draining orchid

And then I let the bottom sit up on something until it completely drains, before putting back on the “shelf,” which, in this case, is actually a bamboo bread box.

Gold and ginseng for your face

Face Off: Ginseng gold slather stuff battles wrinkles on my face

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OK, so Koreans are now synonymous with plastic surgery and known, worldwide, for being ridiculously obsessed with beauty — and I mean the straight up physical kind. I held out pretty long on the Korean beauty product craze, even waiting until last year to try the now ubiquitous BB cream.

But finally, I’ve given in. My people are onto something … Enter The Face Shop, where you can find a Korean beauty product to fight every flaw — real or imagined — on your face. And, perhaps, more impressively, fight those flaws at a variety of price points.

I patronized the one in SF’s very own JapanTown, which, despite all its oddities, I have a total soft spot for … At any rate, I decided if I’m going to go for it, to go for the gold. So that’s exactly what this is. I purchased this over-priced vat of facial serum, paired with a glass dropper of magic oil. It is made, allegedly, of gold (?!?) and ginseng, which, to Koreans, is pretty much like gold.

Official verbiage from back of fancy box:

Myeonghan Miindo Heaven Grade Ginseng Cream Special Set
24K Gold Cream with the wild autogenous power of 6-yr-old Heaven Grade Ginseng and Natural Pine Mushrooms

That’s right — mushrooms. I’ll let you know when I start looking younger.

BB Cream Tube

I also purchased a much less absurdly priced product, a BB Cream, which seems to be working quite well. Clearly it’s been in use and already taken a beating.

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On the Table: Crabfest 2014

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I love life in Nor Cal. We are world-famous for food. Thank goodness for the steep hills and beautiful vistas that keep me inspired to run. Otherwise, I’d weigh twice as much as I do now!

Though we skipped last year, we brought Crabfest back in 2014. Fifteen dungeness crabs met their demise in my kitchen while the 49ers lost their chance at the Super Bowl.

Here are a few pics from the day.

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We had two crab boil pots going — each filled with corn, potatoes, sausage, spices and, of course, crab.

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There were nine of us dining, though we had enough food for a lot more people. I made crab cakes with the leftovers two days later.

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Despite being so sexy Colin Kaepernick was unable to lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl. I rarely care about pro sports but I cared this year!

Korean American Quapa

New Year, New Hapa

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I started my New Year holding a brand new Hapa. This little Korean, Argentinian, German and Scandinavian angel (pictured above) is, alas, not mine. But what a lovely way to welcome 2014!

The NYE crew also included a slew of grown-up Hapa’s, still kinda cute in our old age.

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karaoke

Hapa Christmas to You!

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It’s Xmas time! And we all know what that means, Hapa’s uniting all over the country, my home being no exception. So how to do we celebrate the birth of the little baby Jesus in the Kim-ish family? With karaoke and King crab — a pescatarian feast for my picky, non-meat-eating cousin and cousin-in-law. A very Hapa Christmas to you all and to all a good night!
Family at tableKing crab legs

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One quarter Japanese American and 100% adorable!

A Hapa Birthday: The next generation

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I was lucky enough in college to fall in with the coolest posse of multiracial Asian Americans ever! Hapa Issues Forum (HIF) made such a big difference in my life, at a time when exploring and redefining my identity was crucial.

Though by now long defunct, HIF alumnus still fill my life with joy. It’s especially great since I moved back to California and the Bay Area, where I’m surrounded by Hapa love and by their adorable Hapa and Quapa kids  all the time. For example,  the Chinese, Mexican and African American birthday boy pictured below and the one-quarter Japanese American and 100% precious kid above!

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It’s ma birthday!