The Steep Stairs Ahead

There’s a set of stairs near where I live that leads to the top of a hill overlooking Los Angeles. It’s an amazing view dotted with all the city’s landmarks — Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood sign, Santa Monica beach, Century City — but the only way you’ll get to see this view is by making the painstaking climb up these stairs. So will you do it, or will you settle for the view at the bottom?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ask Me Anything!

My 93-year-old grandpa had no idea what the Internet was. So when I brought over my laptop one day, he stared at it expectantly — as if he was gonna get a roast beef sandwich out of it.

I told my grandpa that this machine had incredible knowledge and power. With this machine, I could tell him the weather forecast and locate a good sushi bar in the area. I could play his favorite song from 1936. I could show him a satellite photo of where he was born.

He was skeptical, but as soon as I found clips of his favorite, long-dead singer on You Tube, it got his brain cranking.

“What’s tomorrow’s weather?”


“Can you find my favorite movie from when I was a kid?”

“Sure. Hmm, here’s a clip of it!”

My grandpa’s eyes lit up. What else could this amazing machine tell me?

“Come on, Grandpa. Ask me anything,” I said, hoping the next question would lead him further down memory lane. But, no.

“Ask me anything, Grandpa,” I said again.

“Okay,” he replied, excitedly. “Tell me when I’m gonna die.”


Posted in Family | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment


A nice man waits an extra few seconds to keep the door open for me as I’m walking out my office building. I tell him, “Thank you!! Thank you!” and after a momentary pause, he replies, “It was worth the smile.” =)

Posted in Short but sweet | Leave a comment

No More Christmas Lights?

My 92-year-old grandpa is perched atop a tree, taking down Christmas lights. He says to me, “No more lights next year!”

“Why not?” I ask from down below.

“Because I won’t be here.”

—   —   —

That was last year. He’s still alive and well, thankfully.

Posted in Bitter-sweet, Family, Short but sweet | Leave a comment

Dead Fish

My 4-year old nephew was fishing with my family with no luck. So my dad decided to secretly hook on a fish on his line so it would appear he caught something. When my nephew reeled it in he said, “Look I caught a dead fish!”

–  John S.

Posted in Family, Funny, Short but sweet | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

What did you call me?!

My then-boyfriend and I were heading home one evening in Sendai City. I was beat from a long day at work and could barely keep a grip on my grocery bag. My boyfriend, a cheery Japanese guy from the Tohoku countryside, took the bag and slung it over his shoulder. I thanked him. He smiled and then uttered the words he probably regrets to this day: “Audrey wa kayowai ne.” (“Audrey, you’re ‘kayowai.’”)

“Kayowai”? What the heck is that? I popped open my electronic dictionary and looked up the word. “Feeble”?!

The blood vessels in my neck started bulging as I questioned in my head how a mild-mannered boy could say such a cruel thing. “Feeble” is a lab rat drained of its blood. “Feeble” is a stray cat found in a storm drain. “Feeble” isn’t your girlfriend who’s about to prepare you a home-cooked meal!

I gave him a verbal beating over the next several days. He defended himself by explaining that “kayowai” was used as a term of affection by Japanese boys. Only nice girls are paid such a compliment. It’s like describing a damsel in distress; if the damsel wasn’t “kayowai,” she wouldn’t need her Prince Charming.

I got the gist of his logic but wasn’t willing to budge. Raised in a society fine-tuned by feminists, I wasn’t going to be treated as a lesser person because of my gender. It just wasn’t right. So I began lecturing him on the importance of gender equality and how it’s made my good ol’ U.S. of A. a better place. “If it weren’t for gender equality, I’d be serving tea all day like Japanese women!” I said, dealing the decisive blow that rendered him speechless — though mostly because he was just tired.

Though just when I thought I had it all figured out…after telling a Japanese female friend about the incident, instead of questioning my boyfriend’s reasoning she challenged my own.  “Why are American women so strong-minded?” she asked. “Is it that bad to let a man help you?”

She told me about her experience living in the U.S. and feeling that so many American women were too rigid and self-righteous to become friends with. She added how she practically envied me because her own boyfriend had never used the word on her. “It’s not a bad thing to be considered feminine,” she said. Here was a girl whom I’d admired for her intelligence and strength. And here she was, jealous of my “feebleness.”

It took months to digest the whirlwind of discussions, though in the end I came to accept that we all have weaknesses, so why be in denial about it? I’m indebted to the feminist movement for making the world a better place for me, but it doesn’t mean I need to put up a fight every time someone thinks I need a hand.

So go ahead, call me feeble.  I won’t put up a fight.

Posted in Personal awareness | Leave a comment

In my happy place

It’s Friday and I’m sitting at my office desk wondering how the rest of the world is spending the day:

Friend A:  headed to SJ soon =)
Friend B: Miami. Here I come.
Friend D: is leaving office at noon and going to see “Due Date” with the gangs.
Athletic Friend E: ran 5.02 mi on 5/11/2010 at 10:20 AM

I shut off Facebook. It’s easy to lose appreciation for everything in my own life when I’m always looking at other people’s lives. So enough of that for now.

It’s Friday. I could be at the beach soaking up some sun. I could be on a plane for a tropical destination. But I choose to be here at work, earning another dollar for another day to play. I appreciate the warm sun radiating through the window. It’s hitting the back of my neck as the A/C blasts cool air overhead. Outside, pedestrians are writhing in the unusual November heat. The office is quiet and peaceful, and when I need a little noise I can open the internet. I can access the world from where I’m sitting: CNN’s breaking news, BBC’s latest show… I can even listen to Japanese police radio if I wanted to.

I have food for lunch and an unlimited supply of water, thanks to the Arrowhead man.

My life is good. =)

Posted in Short but sweet | Leave a comment

Gone Fishing

We made a bet: whoever catches the longest fish wins a $25 pot ($5 per person). It would help liven up an otherwise lazy day at the lake. Trouts were freshly stocked around Mammoth and they started biting as soon as I cast my line. The problem was, they were barely bigger than a hatchling.

I pierced my fingernails into a worm and split it in two, then dug a metal hook into its fleshy cavity. With a syringe, I pumped the worm with air so that it’d stay afloat. Then I cast my line, looked for a dry rock and sat down.

Ten minutes passed when the line started pulling. I gave my rod a yank to let the fish know he was in serious trouble. But after reeling him in I realized, he was just a baby. I threw a fresh worm into the lake and pulled out another sardine.

Meanwhile, down the lake, my friend was the new owner of an 18-inch rainbow trout. The sun set fast that day and before I knew it time was up. I lost my $5 bill.

It would’ve been easy to sleep in the next day. Sipping hot cocoa in front of the fireplace sounded much better than sitting on a cold, turd-stained rock. But if I was going to win my money back I had to at least play the game.

The pot was now at $30. I wasted no time hooking the worm and casting my line. The water was shallow and rocky. Every time I reeled in, the sinker would catch a jagged edge and I’d have to snap the line and start over. The process was frustrating. Sometimes, all I caught was ‘salad.’ One time, as I cast my line the hook snagged a nearby tree and wrapped itself around a twig until it was a webbed mess. No time to waste. Snap the line, re-hook.

I threw my line into the water, looked for a dry rock and sat down. The thin air forced me to take deep, conscious breaths as I looked up at the moving clouds.

Then came a tug, a strong tug. I waited another minute to make sure the fish ingested the worm, then started reeling. It was a big one. Bigger than the other ones, at least. He fought me the entire way, swerving back and forth in an ill-attempt to wear me out. I pulled him to shore, griped his torso and pulled out the hook. He was a big one. Just big enough to win me $30.

Posted in Travel | Leave a comment


During a trip to the Swiss Alps in 2006, my 75-year old tour guide gazed at the snow-capped mountains and let out a heavy sigh. I didn’t get it; it was the most beautiful site I’d ever seen. Then he explained that years ago these same mountains were covered with thick blankets of snow. Today they’re barely dusted. Then he started cursing George W. Bush for global warming. Some opinions are universal, I realize.

Posted in Travel | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Light Show

I’m a fan of stop-motion. Gumby, Davey and Goliath, you name it. There’s something precious about watching life in 3 frames per second.

Posted in Art | Tagged | Leave a comment