Now What?

What. A. Day.

Starting from the poster making with friends, explaining to Plumster what and why we are marching, taking the train to downtown LA in jam-packed cars, to finally stepping out onto sun-kissed Pershing Square, and be surrounded by the phenomenal crowd; oh the chants, the songs, and all the creative, positive energy.  We absorbed it all like hungry malnourished plants in a drought.  On the train ride home, a mother mused out loud to no one in particular, “I wonder if what we did today made a difference.”

Did we?

On the face of it, what with the social media coverge, the 670+ sister marches around the globe from Anarctica to Nigeria to Hong Kong, with the 5 million participants, we must have made a difference, right?

The truth of the matter is, I am not sure.  We can march, and make posters, and “like” and “heart” all the posts we want, but did we make a difference in the future we are trying to leave to our children?  Is there anything else we can do, after such an energizing AND exhausting day?

Well yes!  The march is just the beginning.  You can go to Women’s March website and start the 10 actions in 100 days.  Here are some of my suggestions to do at home while the iron is hot:

  1. Subscribe to professional journalism.  Sure, I rely on the trending feeds on my facebook, or the New York Times free 10 articles a month as much as anyone.  To ensure our source is reliable in order to hold our new administration accountable, we need honest, in-depth news report from the professionals.  We need the feeds from people who were trained and have the time to gather data, analyze their findings, and, report in thoughtful ways.  And we need to pay for their hard work!  Go ahead, take you pick: New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, The Wall Street Journal.  How about something for your listening pleasure?  Donate to NPRKCRW?  Instead of accidentally picking up propaganda fed by the Kremlins, let’s pay our fellow Americans for doing their job.  And no, I do not have any financial disclaimer to disclose.
  2. Don’t let the political parties divide nor define us.  Our elections have turned into a political sport, what with the Red team and the Blue team going against each other at all cost, including, not the least, supporting an unfit presidential candidate.  I believe that despite our political and religious differences, we all want basically the same things!  We all want shelter, food, health, human decency, clean air, and to be with people we love.  Don’t we?  We all want to leave a clean environment to our children.  Don’t we?  We all want to teach our children to do the right things.  Don’t we?  So what difference does it make if someone prays to a different God?  Or decide that they want to spend the rest of their lives with someone of the same gender?  Or want to be able to carry their guns in a safe way?  Let’s not let the political parties divide us!  Prepare and educate yourself by reading from reliable resources (see point 1).  If you care about health care, education, environmental, and human rights issues, does that make you a disloyal Repulican if you vote for a Democartic candidate?  No!  That makes you a well informed voter.  Your party’s politicians don’t own you.  They work for you.  You do not, and I repeat, YOU DO NOT, have to vote for a candidate because he or she is your party’s nomenee.
  3. Reach out to one another.  Are you the lone climate change believer in your family’s Thanksgiving dinner?  Join your local groups, talk with people who share similar values, energize and don’t despair!  You are not alone!  There really are people who believe in civil rights, gender equality, climate change, doing more to save our planet, basic human decency, and taking care of each other’s medical needs.  There are so many of us around the world!  You saw us today!  We are with you.
  4. Plan for a visit to another American city for a vacation!  Meet the people who put Trump where he is.  Visit their grocery stores, local libraries, cafes, their local attractions.  Engage.  And most importantly, LISTEN!  Listen to their grievences, formulate positive connections.  Nothing infuriate them more than a know-it-all-city-bloke coming down to lecture them.  Listen and engage in a positive manner.  Then, and only then, should you voice your opinion.
  5. Realize your New Year’s Resolution.  It’s been twenty one days since we rang in 2017.  Did you make your resolution?  If not, what would you like to improve this year?  For me, I want to get back to an exercise routine, make more home-cooked, healthy meals, spend more quality time with little Plumster and MK, and participate in more research projects.  In the wise words of Confucious (or the fortune cookies), “don’t try, just do”.  It will energize you, make you happier and want to change the world.

Below are some pictures from Women’s March in Los Angeles, if you would like to see:

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My Fish, Obsidian 

 This is my fish, Obsidian.  

He sleeps on its side like a human and enjoys swimming up-side-down.  

We got him from a pet shop the day after my daughter won his ex-bowl mate, Ash, in the famed LA-based 626 night market.  Ash died soon after, like all carnival terrorized/caught fish.  But Obsidian was born in a pet shop and did not have the crazy life style that Ash did.  So he lived.  He’s been with us for over 4 months now.  

I seem the be the only one who is attached to him.  Plum asked if she could dissect him.  So I moved Obsidian out of Plum’s bedroom.  Once I made Monkey King watch Obsidian falling asleep.  I wanted to show MK how Obsidian would just float up to the surface and turn either to his side or up-side-down, depending on his mood I suppose, as he fell asleep.  “But you have to be really quiet and don’t move!  So that you can see how our fish fall asleep!”

“Oh how fun.  Just how I want to spend my Friday evening!” MK lamented. 

And so this is how our fish became my fish.  

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Recent Conversation with My Nine-Year-Old

On Black Friday:

Me, as I stepped in the door after work: Hurry, let’s get to the store before they close today.  They are having a 25% off  Black Friday sale!

Plum, reading her book without looking up: But if we don’t go to the store, you save ONE HUNDRED percent!

Well, common core math at its best!


On Puberty, Sex Education, and Religion:

Plum, after her sex education including menstrual period and intercourse: Mommy, so does it hurt when people have sex?

Me: Yes, for the first time for women.

Plum: What about for men?

Me: Umm… I don’t think so.  I think they probably feel pretty good.

Plum: Wait a minute here, so you are telling me that sex hurts the first time for women, and they have to bleed once a month, AND they have to carry a baby for 9 months AND deliver them?!  What about men?  It’s not fair!

Me: Well, you shouldn’t look it that way.  We GET TO carry babies and have the honor of deliver babies!  We are powerful!

Plum, not buying it: Clearly God is sexist when he invented human!


On Not Adhering to Her Bedtime When Daddy is Not Home:

Me: You should be in bed now.  It’s already 10 o’clock.  Daddy will be so mad when he comes home.

Plum:  Why?  That he’s not home yet? BECAUSE I AM!



Plum: Mommy, you are like, literally, my Best Friend Forever.

Me: Aww.. that’s really sweet.

Plum, now managing my expectation and leveling with me: I mean, I will probably have friends that I want to spend more time with than I want to spend with you when I get older.  But they will probably not be with me forever.  But you will be my best friend forever.

Me: Awww..  you are my best friend too.

Plum: Well, more like I will be your best friend forever, and you will be mine, but not forever, because I will live longer than you.

Me, speechless with the profound realization that, yeah, this kid, my kid, IS my BFF.

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Let’s Take Stock: Five Things To Do NOW

Day Two, about to turn three: after the pantsuit pictures, the “I Voted” selfies, late night refreshing of the New York Times homepage, the shock, the disbelief, the crying in the shower, puffy-eyed and zombie walk, what should we do now?

Five things to do:
1. Celebrate these women for their historic firsts during this election: Ilhan Omar, Kate Brown, Tammy Duckworth, Kamala Harris, Pramila Jayapal, Catherine Cortez Masto.  Ranging from our first Somali American Muslim woman elected to state legistlature, to first female senate from Nevada, these women shone in their own right and deserve our congratulations.
The 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

2. Pick a cause that’s important to you that might get eliminated during the Trump administration: donate and be active.  Many peopole I know donated to  Women’s Right in honor of Hilary Clinton; LGBT, the environment, national parks, to name a few.

3. Go exercise: run outdoors, dance, swim, beat up an orange bean bag; because you know, endorphin releases sress and makes people happy.

4. Make a pie: I made my first key lime pie!  I followed this recipe:

I made my whipped cream topping by hand.  Something therapeutic about beating the heavy cream into peak:


5 Make a Pot of Soup.  With the flu and cold nights, I made a pot of homemade chicken soup from scratch for my family.  Boil the pot for at least three hours and let the aroma dance in the air.  It’s comforting and nourishing.  We need a rest, to recharge.  Your loved ones will thank you as they slurp that delicious goodness.  Promise.

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Halloween Veggie Delight: Jack-O’-Peppers!

EATS: Halloween Veggie Delight

Makes 2 servings


  •  2 orange bell peppers
  •  lettuce
  •  blueberries
  •  carrot sticks
  • dangling fresh herbs: thyme or parsley work well

Instead of carving our pumpkins (too much work!) this year, when I saw these gorgeous orange bell peppers at the market this morning, I knew just what to do!  After giving it a thorough wash and dry, de-core the peppers.  Using a sharp paring knife, carve out the eyes and  mouth.  Stuff in the lettuce, blueberries for the eyes, or whatever else veggies and fruits your child likes to eat.  Carrots sticks are good for arms, but our carrots got eaten before they had a chance to become arms.  Dangle a couple of sprigs of fresh herbs for hair tendrils, and voila!  You’ve got yourself a Jack-o’-latern that is infinitely easier to make and clean.  I put one of those small fairy light strings in there that worked well too.

Plumster squealed with delight when she came home and saw these.  She ate both of these little creatures :)


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Rediscovering the Joy of Running


“1-2, 1-2”, I found myself pounding along the concrete road.  I breezed through Mile 1, shedding the jitters of trying to make it to the start line on time, the wait, the starter horn.  I looked around my surrounding, people wearing all sorts of attire abound: Mickey Mouse ears, tutu skirts, compression socks, wireless earbuds.  Wow, things have really changed over the last eleven years in the world of running.

I should be at my dojo right now, executing my jump up outside circle kick to its precise height and angle; or practicing my defense against palm up lapel grab where I can quickly throw a downward thumb press break and take down the opponent.  I should be on the blue mat, moving gracefully and efficiently, with light glinting through the large floor-to-ceiling window.  Instead I was pounding the streets among a sea of runners.

I used to run, a lot, in my twenties when I lived in New York.  It started as an idiotic dare during grad school, as I threw my name in the New York City Marathon lottery with my friends.  With my never-winning-anything-in-a-lottery streak, I believed that I’d be guaranteed a spot in the NY marathon in three years, according to their official rule.  Three years to transform from a high school track-and-field sprinter to a long distance runner sounded about right.

Somehow luck struck and I got a spot at the marathon that very first year.  NY Road Runners membership, 5k’s,  mini marathon (which was basically a women’s 10k), then lots of 10k’s on the weekends.  The rocks and the moss in Central Park began to etch themselves in my memory.  I could tell, as I came along the bend around a particular boulder, that I’d see the Metropolitan Museum of Art peeking over the treetop.  I started to love the monotony, the repetition, the clearing of the mind.  Back then we did not have smart phones, and carrying my shell cell phone did not yet become a habit.  I listened to my own breathing, the children playing on the grass, the ice cream truck cow-belling.

My first half marathon was the Bronx Half.  I remember it was a rainy gloomy day.  I stood at the start line, not really believing that THEY would make us run in the rain.  Then ran as drops of rain became sheets, pouring down the beak of my baseball cap.  Sweat mixed with rain meant your body did not become overheated nor dehydrated.  Running in the rain turned out to be a blessing, as I later learned during the scorching August Manhattan Half.  NYC Marathon turned me into an addict.  I started to crave the high as I sprinted toward the finish line.  I started to strategize and visualize how I wanted to complete my runs.  I kept and collected my race bibs, chips, T-shirts.  I wore ski pants running along the Hudson river in the snow in preparation for a spring marathon.  On my wedding day, some ingenious makeup had to be deployed to cover my marathon burn/tan while wearing a strapless off-shoulder wedding gown.  Who would have thought to slather on sunscreen on a cloudy spring day to complete a marathon?  Apparently not I.

After our move to Los Angeles, residency training, baby, parenthood, running fell by the wayside.  Martial art became the new religion: the mastering of techniques, the timing of partner work.  I loved the nuance, the precision, the execution.  Then came a bad hand injury during grappling, surgery, bionic woman status, radial nerve damage, rehab, pain specialist, martial art no more.

“1-2, 1-2”, I repeated the monotonous foot-strikes.  Checked my posture, pulled back the shoulders, gentle landing with the feet to protect the knees.  Heel-ball-lift, heel-ball-lift.  Water station, gulp, spit.  Remembering how we pulled each other through on the bridges during the NY marathon as there were no crowds to cheer us on; just steep hills and our will.  At the last miles, coming down fifth avenue then along 59th street, crowds roaring.  The bodies that made up of this body of moving mass in 2016: younger, more muscled, clad with armbands, smart phones, wireless headphones, dri-fit tops, high fashion attire.  I turned down Ocean Avenue, eyes narrowed in on the finish line, and picked up my pace.  Pick your target, pass; pick another one, pass.  I spotted Monkey King and little munchkin.  Slowed down, waved, back to business.  Up-down, up-down, I pounded the street.  All these years later, eleven to be exact, these legs remembered their routine.  My throat caught and I felt grateful.  The last mile was meant for sprinting, for the rush of adrenaline, for the high.

At the end, I ran an average 11:43 minute-mile 10k race, cold.  The quads, the lungs, the arms awakening.  I felt truly grateful, for the hobby I accidentally picked up in my 20’s, which now became a lifeline while I wrestle with the depression ensued following my grappling accident.  I may never step on the blue mat again.  But while I hit the road to recovery, I now know that the road is about to be concrete, with sneakers.



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Mother’s Day Should Be On a Monday

The day after Mother’s Day is laden with chores that should have been done on Sundays.  You know, the grocery shoppings, house cleaning, weeks-worth of lunch prepping, bascially the various errands done by Mothers on Sundays.

I declare that Mother’s Day should be moved to Mondays, so that house works could be done during its normal scheduled programming.

And all Mothers get the said Mother’s Monday off, to be celebrated with other Mothers ;)  Or even better, make it a national holiday, and everyone gets the day off!



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