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My desk is currently a jumbled mess- a chaotic array of papers, belts (two black and one brown to be exact), pens and wires cover my working space which to some might feel claustrophobic and distractingly crowded, but I think best in a busy, messy environment.  By literally not giving my physical person any space to breathe and be free, my mind can roam as it will.  That, and also a blank counter space just begs for me to messy it up.  I call it organized chaos.  To the untrained eye it looks random, but I know exactly where everything is…usually.

And right now, my desk is also a very apt metaphor for my life.  Lots of things happening, with me frequently shuffling through the piles and piles of “stuff” on my desk and in my mind.  I’ve had many things going on at once and only just now can I relax and start reorganizing and tidying up.  For the last few months, things have been busy.  A good busy, but also a stressful busy.  I won’t (and can’t) go into many details right now, but I am so eager to share the news with you soon (my closest friends can probably already guess what is as it’s the only thing I’ve been gushing about lately.) Spoiler: I am not getting married.

For Memorial Day my family and I headed up to the town of Mammoth Lakes, which is probably best known for its ski resort, though it’s becoming more and more popular for summertime activities as well.  My family and I have come here several times a year since I was a baby, but my trips have sadly been less frequent lately- my last trip there was a whole year ago.  There was still some snow on the ground, but it was mushy and dirty and really not worth skiing in, so we just spent our days relaxing and doing some light hiking in the daytime.  It was the perfect way to decompress and empty out my brain.  Enjoying the crisp smog-free air, hearing nothing but the occasional chirping of birds, and taking naps in the sunshine is my idea of a pretty darn good weekend.  Below are a few pictures I took, but don’t forget you can also follow me on Instagram for many many more pretty snapshots (there’s a nifty button at the bottom of the page for you!)

Mammoth Lakes, CA Mammoth Lakes, CA Mammoth Lakes, CA

 

2012 In Review

2012 was a pretty good year for me. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, but without the bad, how can we appreciate the good? I’m going to stick with my format from last year’s New Year’s Eve post and talk about some of the most memorable things that have happened this year to me, in no particular order:

  • Traveled around the Baltic Sea region: If you didn’t read any of my posts on this summer’s cruise, you’re missing out! Go read them now. They’re all nicely labeled for you as “Part 1-8 Of My Scandinavian Adventures.” I visited seven countries in two weeks: Germany, Russia, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, and Denmark. It was a trip of a lifetime, and each time I go abroad I am consistently reminded at how very large this world is, with so many wonderful sights to see. Time to start planning next year’s adventure…
  • Running: I never thought I could even run a mile without stopping, but my lovely friend convinced me I could do it, and you know what? I can do it! Sometimes all you need is someone who can yell at you believes in you to help you get over your reluctance/fear about something. Of course I run very slowly, but I’m not planning on breaking any speed records anytime soon.
  • Visiting w/ old friends: Kind of explanatory, this bullet. While it is rather nice having friends scattered across countries and continents being very accessible with Skype and email, there’s nothing more satisfying than actually being with them in person. No video chat can ever replace the warmth of a hug, or replicate that warm fuzzy feeling of being in the presence of good friends.
  • Live concerts: Saw some fantastic live performances this year, including two Korean pop groups whose concerts nearly reduced me to flood of teenage hysterical tears. Nearly. But not quite. I do have a little shred of dignity in me. Judge me if you like for loving my K-pop, but I have long since decided that there’s no use being embarrassed about who or what I like. My friends (the heavy majority of whom could care less about K-pop) have long since learned to just humor my fangirling moments and gamely show interest when I babble about upcoming concerts.
  • I adopted 2 cats: I try to rein in my love for cats when I’m on this blog but if you didn’t know already, I love cats. Love love love. I don’t dislike dogs, but I will always be a cat person. I will also probably become a crazy cat lady later in life. I’ve got two cats now- only eight more until the craziness is official! I won’t go on and on about my kittens, but they have settled in quite nicely with my family and I can’t imagine life without them. And I’m now done raving about my cats.

Wishing all of you and yours a wonderful New Year! Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013. I can’t wait to make you an amazing year; I’ve got a couple big changes that I want to make happen. Let’s do this.

Holidays and Family Time

Hello, everyone!  I hope you all have sufficiently recovered from your Thanksgiving holiday by now (those of you who celebrate it, anyways.)  Hopefully the food comas have passed, the waistlines gone back to pre-feast measurements, and the fridge is no longer overflowing with leftovers.  I ate a tremendous amount of food (but that’s nothing new for me) not only on Thanksgiving Day but the following days as well, due to the sudden influx of out-of-town relatives and friends visiting.  But I did manage to wake my sorry butt up and go running the day after!  I think that although I haven’t run in a while, the quick burst of energy prevented me from sinking into a post-Thanksgiving daze all weekend long.  The weather was deliciously hot- I got to bust out those tank tops and shorts and bask in the glory that is Southern California.

Here’s a picture of the amazing turkey my mom roasted (garnished with herbs and flora from our yard)- it’s always good, but I think this year might have been the best one yet.  This is one recipe I won’t be sharing with you because I’m selfish like that.  Your turkey will never be as good as ours!  (Insert evil laugh here.)  But I will tell you that this year we added some white wine to the brine so maybe that’s the key to having an awesome turkey…I’m drooling just thinking about it- can Thanksgiving come again soon?  It’s the only time of the year when I get to tell myself that eating pumpkin pie for breakfast is a good thing…

Thanksgiving Turkey!

On a non-food related note, I finally became an aunt for the first time last night!  My cousin had a beautiful baby girl and as the first baby born to the new generation, everyone in my family is very excited.  Those of you who know my family know I only have a younger brother who is WAY too young to be thinking about producing offspring.  So technically, the new baby is really my first cousin once removed and not my niece.  (Don’t worry, I know all the terms- you can’t outsmart the genealogy geek!)

But I will always be regarded as her aunt, and not her cousin.  Confused?  In Chinese families (and other cultures that place high regard in Confucian values such as honoring your elders, obeying your parents, etc. etc.) if I am older, I am accorded more respect (“respect” being applied very loosely- it’s not like I bow to my older cousins every time I see them or anything like that!).  Regardless if she is my cousin’s child or my brother’s child, she is born in the new generation and she’s significantly younger than me, so that makes me her aunt.

I’m sure those of you with Asian families know what I mean when I say that everybody who I’m vaguely related to is called “auntie” or “uncle”- and even if you’re not blood related, if you’re a somewhat close family friend, you’ll still probably be given those titles even if you’re not Chinese.  Calling someone “aunt” or “uncle” implies a sense of familiarity and comfortable respect, rather than the sort of distant respect one gives to a stranger with “Mr.” or “Ms.”  Of course, every family is different and I am certainly not one to speak for all Chinese people, but this is generally how things work when it comes to defining familial relations.

This is probably a much longer and complicated answer to the simple question: “Why are you her aunt if it’s not your brother’s kid?”  But every time I tried to explain why it was so, I’d get blank looks.  So I’m going to refer all confused persons to this post and leave them to it.    I apologize if this post put you to sleep- I just jump on any chance I get to talk about genealogy 🙂