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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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!

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!

Hapa Day Off

Hapa Halloween! A Ferris Bueller Tribute

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To many of the young folks in the Mission, we were unidentifiable. But there were at least a few Halloween partiers that got it!

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
— Ferris Bueller

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First time we went out, we had a special guest — Lloyd Dobler from “Say Anything” == as the hockey jersey for Cameron hadn’t arrived in the mail on time.

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But by Halloween Part II, we had the whole cast for our Hapa Ferris Bueller crew — including Cameron in aforementioned jersey!

Koreanese Bento #27: Ohayo!

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Had a wonderful day in Napa yesterday, culminating in a picnic at V Sattui Winery in St. Helena. This morning I was inspired to bento with some of the leftovers. It’s been ages, and I’d almost forgotten how fun packing a lunch could really be. 🙂

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Leftover rotisserie chicken, kale salad with a sesame vinaigrette, baby carrots, roasted rosemary almonds and a happy tangerine.

Good-bye, Pier 70: When the past will really be the past

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One day, very soon, all of this will be spruced up, removed, renovated or at least refurbished, which I suppose is better than rusting and rotting … But I’m savoring the last moments anyway before Pier 70 is really history.

Check out the vision for Pier 70 on the Port of San Francisco’s website and also at Pier 70 Waterfront Project.

Koreanese Bento #25: The remains of the other day

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Garlic shrimp over fried rice. Baby lettuce salad with tomatoes, cucumber and carrots. Balsamic vinaigrette dressing. And a two-cookie finale!

Went to Tahoe this past weekend and had, by far, the best snow of the season. Of course, it hasn’t been much of a season this year. But it dumped from Saturday night all the way through Monday afternoon, when we headed back down the mountain.

Got home late in the evening, and it’s been go, go, go ever since. Haven’t made it to the grocery store, much less cooked up a decent meal. So this bento was all about improvisation.

Had some leftover rice from the week before, and the remains of the salad ingredients we brought up to the condo, including a vinaigrette I’d hauled there and back in a mason jar.

With the help of some vegetables and ginger out of the freezer, the fried rice got a little color and a pop of flavor. I cooked the frozen shrimp in leftover bacon fat and fresh garlic and then squeezed lemon juice over them at the end.

The cookies, I confess, are not homemade. But the oatmeal raisin cookies I made for the trip were too big for bento fare. Overall, not too shabby for the remains of the other day. 🙂

Look at all that snow! Kirkwood was adrift in white, and no crowds to boot!

Happy as a clam in the cold, windy weather.

It’s sealed: Ano Nuevo, we meet again …

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The remains of the lighthouse keeper

Made my third annual pilgrimage to Ano Nuevo State Park in early January. My friend Tony and I have been coming here every year since I moved to California. It’s a very apt and beautiful place to start the New Year.

Ano Nuevo Point was named by a Spanish chaplain on January 3, 1603. He spied the coast from the deck of explorer Don Sebastian Viscaino’s ship and, though he never stepped foot on the land, named it honor of the New Year. (Read more about Ano Nuevo’s history.)

The state park also includes Ano Nuevo Island. Only open to researchers, the island and its long-deserted Victorian house make for a striking addition to the coastal views. (Read more about Ano Nuevo Island Light Station.)

At this time of year, thousands of female northern elephant seals give birth and then nurse their young. The males spend their time defending their harems or plotting sneak-attacks in hopes of capturing and impregnating another’s female. (Not exactly romantic, but, since the elephant seals are thriving, this method seems to be getting the job done.)

In March, the adults return to the sea. After having spent three months on land with no food, they have lost up to a third of their body weight. The pups remain behind and have a few more weeks to hone their swimming skills before they, too, will leave the land.

Returning seals have to get past the bevy of Great White sharks that thrive in Northern California’s coastal waters. If they survive and make it into the deep blue, their yearly cycle will begin again.

Elephant seals can dive up to 5,000 feet (1,524 m) and stay down there for as long as two hours. The females tend not to hunt as deep as the males, as they’re partial to squid. The boys are, naturally, bottom-feeders and live off the likes of skate and crab.

Friends of the Elephant Seal (FES), which supports the recently formed colony at Piedras Blancas, near San Simeon, Calif., has a nice FAQ page on the Northern Elephant Seal.

I also re-read “Elephant Seals” by Carole and Phil Adams (1999) each year before my visit. You can purchase the book via the FES online shop, as well as in person at the Ano Nuevo State Park store.

If you want to see the Ano Nuevo colony, you must sign up for a docent/ranger-lead tour. You’ll get up close to the seals and support a good cause. Reserve far in advance, particularly for weekend slots.

Elephant seals are sexually dimorphic. In other words, the males and females grow up to be quite different in shape and size. Males can weigh up to 5,500 pounds (2500 kg), while females max out around 1,800 pounds (545 kg). The signature proboscis, for which the species gets its name, is only characteristic on male elephant seals. Their "trunk" can grow up to two feet long!

Alpha male elephant seals oversee harems of anywhere from 10 to 50 females. Beta males patrol the periphery, fighting off any would-be usurpers. Their payoff? A chance to mate should the Alpha find himself otherwise too preoccupied to care.

Elephant seals have nails on their fore flippers. They are quite adept at scratching themselves, which, at least while on land, they seem to do often.

Females and their offspring communicate through unique calls. If you see a female barking, she may be calling to her pup.

A pup barks at a meddlesome seagull. Rangers know there

Best suited for life in the chilly waters of the open Pacific, blubbery elephant seals cool themselves on land by flicking sand on themselves. The grains may also act as a kind of sunscreen.