How to Quit Facebook… or Not

Let’s face it, we are a planet addicted to Facebook.  You see people sitting there on the bus, on the train, in the library, on the sideline of their children’s sports event, across from the dining table in a restaurant, swiping up and down, living vicariously through other people’s lives.  You recognize that Facebook-blue on people’s mobiles and laptops, and you know they are checking their status updates.  You get excited when you see the red number on the top right corner, indicating how many alerts or messages you have.  When life is happening, you are at the ready with your mobile, photo-journaling the process, while pondering in your head how best to caption these photos.  What started out as a fun, online resource for sharing with friends and acquaintances had become the main way we socialize.  Instead of talking to our friends,  we comment on their posts.  When I felt the earthquake the other day, my first instinct was to check the Facebook feeds to see if my friends felt it, too.  When Plumster crushed a particularly worthy challenge, I am not immune to post my pride… then check incessantly to see how many of my friends and family reacted to my post.  When I talked (as in, ahem, face-to-face) to one of my friend the other day and asked her how she was, she retorted, “you didn’t see my post on Facebook?”  I mean, do we now have to study up on people’s Facebook updates before talking to them like we do before a job interview?

After the 2016 Presidential Election, with the foreign-sponsored Facebook bots terrorizing and undermining our democracy, I began to take a harder look at HOW I was using this supposedly fun social network.  I realized that I had become increasingly reliant on Facebook trending news.  I click on friends’ posts to read up on everything they care to share.  All the sensational news of the day.  I donate money to links that friends shared.  I share stories and posts I read.  I engage in political debates, sometimes even with complete strangers.   In other words, I have become an ideal Facebook customer.  When I see friends, I know what vacations they take; if they have insomnia the night before; what television show they watch.  But then what is left for us to talk about when we actually see each other?

Quick, I thought, I needed to do something about this.  At the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, I decided to quit Facebook, cold turkey style… or so I thought!  You see, Facebook doesn’t really let you off the hook so easily.  Like a drug dealer, they ask you, what’s wrong?  Why don’t you like it anymore?  Maybe you could just take some time off, and come back, say 7 days?  Could you tell us why you are quitting?  Like a friend, they helpfully offer ways that can help you cut down the consumption of this drug called Facebook.

Here is my five step program that is ongoing and I hope you find this useful, if you have the same addiction.

First and foremost, you’ve got to have the courage and clear mind to admit that you have a problem.  Does your mind wonder to your phone and your finger itch to click that app open to check people’s comments?  Even when the moment is not right.  Say, your child is sitting there right in front of you?  Even when say, your spouse is TALKING to you?  Yes?  Yes,  then you do have a problem.

Ok, now that you admit it, decide on how you want to quit.  Do you want to quit cold turkey?  Or wean yourself off slowly?  If you want to quit cold turkey, more power to you!  Facebook gives you an option to quit for a set period of time and you can log back on after the set days, and nothing would be lost, no hard feelings.  Judging from the number of posts and the memory I shared, I decided that perhaps I should do a trial of separation first.

Once you decide to down shift or quit on Facebook, the first thing you need to do  is to delete that Facebook app from your mobile phone.  Pronto!  Stat!  Get that drug off your phone.  Limit your access.  This way you are not carrying that drug in your purse, in your jeans pocket, taking it everywhere with you.  It’s like carrying a pack of cigarette in your pocket while trying to quit smoking.  Or a bottle of wine while trying to quit drinking.  This way, even if you have a weak moment, or a particularly good or horrific news you want to share, you can only check it on your laptop, or using the web browser version on your mobile, which is kind of cumbersome and clunky and does not entice you to stay any longer than necessary.

During my week of trial of separation, I felt… unencumbered and free!  Surprisingly, I did not have withdrawal symptoms.  I thought I’d be longing to check up on people’s lives, but with the app off my mobile, it was easy to not want to.

At the end of my separation period, I realized that I needed to check in on Facebook status from Plum’s school groups.  Parents share important school updates on the various private groups that we belong to.  Without the real-time updates, I would have missed the school trip reminder, on the day of the trip, where they reminded us that we had to be in school 25 minutes earlier than usual.

With the decision to stay, I have to make some provisions here.  My phone is still off limits for the Facebook app.  I refuse to get back in too deep this time around.  Next, to limit the feeds I read, the arguments I would inadvertently get myself into, and the internal struggles I create when I post certain things, I cleaned up my friends list.  Take an honest inventory of your friends list and choose quality over quantity.  After the 2016 election, I became warry of people on my friend’s list that I knew who voted for a certain candidate.  I worry about what they think of my posts and my political views.  How could they possibly voted for a candidate who essentially does not give a damn about people like me: a woman who immigrated from a foreign country who is non-white, who relied on a functional public school system and government funded merit scholarships to get to where she is today.  These people are basically telling me, I don’t care about people like you; whether or not people like you exist does not matter to me; or worse, maybe they wish people like me did not come to this country in the first place.

While you are cleaning your Facebook house, go through the app list that is linked to your Facebook account.  Delete any app you do  not want linked to your Facebook account.  You’ll be surprised how many apps are linked to your Facebook account.  Those fun questions you answered?  Those merchants you clicked to make online purchasing easier with just one click?  The character from Game of Thrones that best describe you?  I did not even know how most of these accounts got linked to my Facebook account.  But here they were.  Delete.  Delete.  Delete.  The more apps you delete, the less profiling Facebook has a handle on you.  This entire cleansing process felt cathartic.

Last but not least, allow yourself a set amount of time to linger in your Facebook account.  Once you are done reading, log out.  The active process of having to use a password to log in and out helps in cutting down the temptation of just taking a peek during any downtime you might have.

In short, here are my five step process in living my life in real-time in a Facebook-free life.  I am not saying you need to quit completely, but be free of it spiritually and emotionally.

  1. Admit you have a problem.
  2. Decide on how you want to down shift: quit cold turkey or a trial of separation?
  3. Delete the phone app on your mobile.
  4. Cleanse your lists: friends, apps, groups.
  5. Allow yourself a set amount of time and log out when you are done.
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The Truth About Turning Gray… From Someone Who’s Turning Gray

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You know how people say not to pluck your gray hair?  Sure, being natural is beautiful.  Sure, having gray does give you that certain aura of wisdom.  Yada yada and all that jazz.  But let’s face it, the gray hair is usually that one lone eye-sore.  Sometimes it even has a different texture that is just annoyingly daring you to pluck it out.

But whatever you do, DO. NOT. PLUCK. IT. OUT.

Yes, the initial satisfaction of getting rid off that eye-sore is quite fulfilling.  Yes, your head will look like it’s returned to normal.  But only TEMPORARILY!  Because guess what?  Once that gray hair grows back, you don’t just have that gray eye-sore, you now have a SHORT. SPIKY gray eye-sore.  And if you pluck out a bunch of it?  Well, the cactus I saw today at Trader Joe’s kinda, sorta reminded me of the head of someone I knew my whole life.

Just sayin’

You are welcome.

P.S. Yes, instead of growing out my bangs, I am now growing out my grays.

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EATS: Poké Bowl

this one

When I stopped by the farmer’s market this weekend, the fishmonger had beautiful cuts of ahi (yellow fin) tuna.   Normally, I would either make sushi with it, or sear it lightly and top it with a dash of ponzu.  But tonight, I was in the mood for something a little more flavorful.  Maybe it’s because Spring is finally here!  I wanted something bright and refreshing.  After a quick brainstorming and cross-referencing (especially this one), here is my version of Poké Bowl:

EATS: Poké Bowl

Makes about 4 bowls

Ingredients:

  • 2lb sashimi-grade fish: ahi tuna, salmon, cut into cubes
  • 1 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 3 scallions, both green and white parts, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 jalapeno, thinly sliced
  • 2Tsp mirin rice wine
  • 4 Tsp sesames seed oil
  • 6Tsp low sodium soy sauce
  • Juice of a lime

For the rest of the bowl (really, just add anything you want to include in your bowl):

  • 1 English cucumber, sliced to the same size as the fish
  • 1 avocado, sliced to the same size as the cucumber
  • seaweed salad, from Japanese food market
  • dry seaweed, for garnish, Momofuku Noodle Bar style (see picture below)
  • Sushi rice, the same as this post

Steps:

  • Make the sushi rice
  • While the rice is cooking, mix the sauce including mirin rice wine, sesame seed oil, and low sodium soy sauce in a 1:2:3 ratio.
  • Add the sliced shallots, scallion and – if you like spicy -jalapeno, and mix all ingredients well
  • Add the cubed fish, then the lime juice, mix well, and let chill in the refrigerator
  • In the meantime, cut up the rest: avocado, cucumber, carrots.  Or toast some sesami seeds.  It’s really whatever you want!
  • Divide the rice into bowls , and in my case, I set the spread out on the dining table to let everyone put their own bowl together (see picture above).  Therefore at this point, dinner is ready!
  • Here is my bowl, with a side of miso soup:

 

poke

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EATS: Weeknight Spaghetti with Clam

I love my musselssea bass, and Japanese sea bass.  But clams are my unsung heroes of seafood.  When I go to Italian restaurants, I always get their spaghetti alle vongole.  Clams are easier to handle than oysters or mussels.  Once cooked, the briny juice recalls the ocean sea breeze.  Spaghetti with clam is fast, tasty and doesn’t require too much advanced planning beside putting the live clams in a bowl of water to let the sand come out the night(s) before.  The prep time takes less than 10 minutes, and cooking time takes less than 15 minutes.  Perfect for a weeknight dinner.  The only thing is that MK and I have been on a healthy eating kick, so we reserve alcohol consumption to weekends only.  Here is my spaghetti with clam sauce with an Asian twist, no opening of a bottle of dry white required:

EATS: Spaghetti with Clam

Makes 2 servings

 Ingredients:

  •  1.5lb clam, cleaned and scrubbed and desanded
  •  a packet of dry spaghetti
  •  1/2 cup Mirin rice cooking wine
  •  2 shallots, thinly sliced
  •  7-8 cloves of thinly sliced garlic
  •  a bunch of Italian flat parsley, roughly chopped
  •  a pad of unsalted butter
  •  2 Tsp olive oil
  • salt and red chili to taste

 Steps:

  •  Cook spaghetti in a salted boiling big pot of water until it’s ALMOST cooked through
  •  In a medium heated pan, pour in olive oil, then butter
  •  Sauté shallots first, then add in garlic until shallots are translucent and the kitchen smells fragrant, about 1.5-2 minutes.
  • Add the mirin rice cooking wine and let it become bubbly, about 30 seconds
  • Add the clams, taking care to shake off water and any remaining sand
  • Cover the pan and let the clam cook, for about 2min
  • By now, the spaghetti should be done around the same time
  • Open the cover of the pan, and discard any unopened clam.  They were probably diseased and you don’t want to eat them.
  • Add the spaghetti straight into the pan and mix
  • Add the parsley for taste and garnish
  • With the briny juice from the clam and the aromatics, I didn’t even need to add salt.
  • Add freshly ground black pepper and red chilli flakes, optional.  I did!
  • Voila!  Enjoy!

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Wishful Thinking

Conversation overheard this Tuesday morning coming from Plum’s room:

MK: Wake up honey!  WAKE UP!

Plum: Hmmm…

MK: Rise and shine!

Plum: What day is today?  Is today Saturday or Sunday?

I couldn’t hear MK’s response, because I burst out laughing so hard.  Oh yeah, I totally get you Plum.

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On The Way To School

On the walk to school this morning, as Plum pulled along her heavy roller bag with her right hand, and holding a book that she wanted to read during recess with her left hand, I reached out to hold her hand, not fully registering that both of her hands were in fact, quite full.  My hand was immediately caught by Plum’s little warm hand and held firmly, at the precise moment when I realized that both of her hands were fully occupied.  Puzzled, I looked back to figure out how on earth she was able to do that.

This was what I saw: her right hand was pulling her ginormous roller bag AND clutching her thick hard copy book.  Her little left hand was firmly holding my hand as she happily discussed a book she was reading this morning.  Oh my heart.

Sweetness.  Love.  Eternity.

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EATS: DIY Sushi

As a busy lady, I am on a constant look out for easy weeknight options.  Anything that takes less than 30 minutes to make is a must-try in my book.  From my previous posts, I have come up with a few recipes in my repertoire; simples dishes such as weeknight lemon ginger sea bass  to my hassle-free easy dessert have been in our regular dining rotation since their publication.  Dishes such as DIY sushi reduce the time from kitchen to dining table during a weeknight family dinner by half because you are outsourcing the meal-making steps to the diners!  It just so happened that my mother taught a sushi-making class in New York in the late 80s, so I grew up having homemade sushi when legitimate Asian restaurants were rare commodities.  The trick to homemade sushi is to get the sushi rice properly seasoned.  Here is how:

EATS: DIY Sushi

Makes about 4 rolls

Ingredients:

For the rice:

  •  3 cups of Japanese short grain sushi rice, washed and drained
  •  1/2 cup rice vinegar
  •  1 Tbs sugar
  •  1 tsp salt

For the sushi making

  • bamboo sushi mat
  • Sushi-grade fish
  • cucumber
  • seaweed
  • jalapeno
  • or really, anything you want to include in your sushi

 Steps:

  •  Cook the rice however you usually cook it.  I use a rice cooker.
  • While the rice is cooking, mix the vinegar, sugar, salt in a sauce pan and boil in low heat until dissolved.  Set aside to cool.
  • When the rice is cooked, fold in the cooled rice vinegar mixture without breaking the rice.  I spoon in the cooled vinegar sauce 1 tablespoon at a time and let Plum decide.
  • Set the rice aside to cool.  This will also give the rice a chance to absorb the vinegar.
  • Line the bamboo mat by wrapping saran wrap around it as pictured below.  This way you don’t have to wash sticky, dried rice off the bamboo while in a food-induced coma.  When you are done with dinner, just unwrap the mat and give it a quick rinse.  Cleaned!
  • Line the seaweed down on the mat
  • Scoop rice onto the seaweed
  • Now this step is important: dip your hands in cold water to keep your fingers wet, then gently pat the rice down to cover the entire surface of seaweed.  Rice don’t get stuck on wet fingers!
  • Line up whatever you want on one end of the sushi rice.  Here I have ahi tuna, Persian cucumber, Romaine lettuce, jalapeno.
  • Roll, cut, enjoy and repeat!

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