Monday, March 29, 2010

random thoughts on being vietnamese american

yknow a lot of popular makeup + hair + beauty gurus on youtube are VN girls lol.


while it's been known jokingly that VN people tend to run nail salons, jewelry shops and clothing stores, it really makes me feel good to know that VN people are getting a little more recognition and praise in the industry, especially in america.

not to compare or complain or anything, but... damn it, chinese people always steal the spotlight away from other asians like, all the freaking time! sometimes it's ok because they get blamed a lot for animal cruelty or child sweatshops or pollution and the like... but times when good stuff happens and credit is dished out, people are like, "oh, yeah. he/she was this really beautiful and talented person. i think he/she was chinese or something." arg! i know that they totally outnumber all the other asians, and if someone were to guess an asian-looking person's ethnicity, statistically speaking, the best guess is chinese, but still... it's frustrating.

in grade school it was all the same.

coming to japan was worse. because the locals either thought i was japanese or that i was the child of a chinese father and white mother lol. but whenever i did anything wrong i was always 100% chinese LOL.

getting bicycle back from the seized bicycle lot: "ID card please... Ah, so you're Chinese, huh?"
stopped by police for not having bicycle light on at night: /after a brief Q&A session, "So, you Chinese then, huh?"
stopped again by police [because allen did a dangerous maneuver on his bicycle (partly my fault lol)]: /flashlights in our faces "So... Chinese?"

Now i don't think there's anything shameful about being labeled as a Chinese person. The only issue is: that isn't who I am.

it runs deep because it's been like this forever.


anyway it's good to know that in america, 'Vietnam' conjures more ideas than war images. and i'm confident that at least if you live in california you can associate 'pho' with the correct ethnic group.

which reminds me about something else that pisses me off in japan!
春巻き(harumaki) translated as 'spring rolls' + 生春巻き(nama harumaki) translated as 'fresh spring rolls'

so for the sake of translation, let's do this little dance:
dried shiitake mushrooms vs. fresh shiitake mushrooms: they're the same thing. the only difference is one is dry and the other is, well, fresh.
baby bamboo shoots vs. fresh baby bamboo shoots: they're the same thing. the only difference is one is bought in a can or bag already peeled and cut, and the other just got dug up and still has its outer layers of bamboo fiber on it.
100% orange juice vs. 100% fresh squeezed orange juice: they're the same thing (arguably). the only difference is one was maybe concocted from a concentrate and bottled/put in a jug to sell at the supermarket, and the other is physically yielded from the orange fruit directly into your glass (again, arguably because you can buy 'freshed squeezed oj at the market too, but you get the image right?).

now let's look at what japanese call 'spring rolls' vs. their 'fresh spring rolls'

a japanese 'harumaki' is an egg roll. imagine a chinese egg roll a.k.a. an imperial roll or filipino lumpia. a meaty or cabbagey or seafoody or vegetabley (whatever your family and/or ethnic perference is) mix is rolled into a egg-based thin dough wrapper and deep-fried to hot golden perfection.

a japanese 'nama harumaki' is a spring roll. it has a thin rice paper wrapping and is filled with rice vermicelli noodles and cold salad-ish materials again depending on your regional preference. sometimes in japanese restaurants they have the audacity to label it "betonamu* nama harumaki" yes, once again katakana pronunciation warps an otherwise 2-syllable word into a 4-syllable one >=o
*BeToNaMu = Vietnam.
one time at Tokyu Hands they were having a sale on world mugs - mugs that had the national flag of various countries on it, but the Vietnam one was typed out as, "Vet Nam." They didnt even try i swear.

IN SHORT, the japanese 'spring roll' and 'fresh spring roll' are two completely different dishes in almost~ every way shape and form. (arguments: sure they're both rolls, but they're rolled differently! AND one is more round than the other!)

dont get tricked.

anyway, you could imagine my confusion when i first came here. i had a teacher come up to me and was like, "oh so you're vietnamese, huh? i sure love fresh spring rolls!"
me: "oh, well... spring rolls are only eaten fresh so... that's cool?..."
her: "no i mean fresh spring rolls are so much healthier to eat than the deep-fried spring rolls, arent they?"
me: "@_@ you guys DEEP-FRY spring rolls?!"
her: "but vietnamese people know about chinese cuisine too right? havent you eaten deep-fried spring rolls before?"
me: /more confused "oh. you mean... egg rolls?"
her: "oh, is that what they're called in america?"
me: "well a lot of other asians have something very similar to that deep-fried kind, like chinese egg rolls, vietnamese egg rolls, filipino lumpia and stuff..."
her: "へえええ~~~ so what are the differences?"
me: "uh, what you put on the inside lol. and the sauce."
her: "that's it?"
me: " 'that's it?' " dude, the filling and the sauce is what defines any roll food."

to this day i remember from my childhood a friend of my mom's had gone and tried making her own vn egg rolls/ spring rolls and came by to let us taste/ judge some. and ohhhhhh boyyyyy was it a shocking experience. now at the time i was only around 10-13 years old maybe? but i've always been a super good kid about outwardly appearing to be a super good kid. so when the lady showed up with her creation the only thing i can describe it as is like... it was a super long and heavy 'no comment' moment lol.

first of all the lady used the fresh spring roll wrappers, except she deep fried those suckers lol. [this actually works. i know this for a fact because once when i was a kid we ran out of the egg roll paper so i was like, 'hey let's see if spring roll paper will work!' and yes, it did.] next, her filling was like ground beef, bean sprouts, onions, garlic, maybe tomatoes? some other unholy mix of stuff, and i'm sure there was some kind of unremarkable sauce present. now if she had come bearing her "original creation of vn food stuffs" we would have been like 'sweet. bring it on' mentally prepared for something original and artful. cept she was like, 'guys, i made vietnamese spring rolls, have a bite!'

ah, the memories.

by the way, the taste was rather ok-ish!

anyway, back to the chinese thing. boyfriend is a TW variant of chinese, so that makes everything A-OK lol. over and out. dispute over. haha.

forgive the weird organization. lots of memories were flying around lol.

Friday, March 26, 2010

taken last tuesday. the sakura were approx. 4 days early this year (according to NHK lol).

deep-frying for only one person is what vacation time is all about lol.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

i made a tote bag yesterday! a fine way to have spent my first holiday/ beginning of spring vacation~ i went to the fabric store after visiting the bank and saw some cute material with cats on it kekeke. it was on saleee~ (fabric is kind of expensive in japan... i would say by 30-40% more on average than what i can buy at fabric stores in chinatown oakland back at home, or in the fashion district in LA. even jo-anns is cheaper and it's supposed to be the 'expensive' craft store @_@ anyway 1 meter of this oven mitt material was 800yen. everything else like the straps, the lining, etc. were just scraps from my various sewing projects + cosplay over the past several months here.

i didnt expect to be so happy with the result but... i am! lol. that print really is fabulous =D and it's so cushy~ i just want to hold and carry it all the time~

oh, and just past that noren in the background is where Mr. Toilet is haha.

a few days ago i went on a fugu [(puffer fish) because i specifically asked for it lol] culinary adventure with the english department! we had a lot of courses, and towards the end i was a little too excited from the sake to take proper photos of everything, but here were the main dishes that came out!

starters of pickled fugu parts among other tasties

straight to the sake! it was lit on fire. those are fugu fins in it.

deep-fried fugu - tastiest dish all night lol

our fugu nabe stuffs - classic array of mushrooms, tofu, napa cabbage, onions, other vege stuffs and clear noodles along with the raw fugu.

into the pot!

i got served.

the skin. it's supposed to have a ridiculous amount of collagen in it lol.

the nabe finisher of egg and rice.

we had something else too? and then there was a not-so-special ice cream. i vaguely remember being semi-outraged when i found out that the ice cream wasn't derived from fugu lol.

all in all, deep-fried is the way to go! the meat itself wasnt memorable at all. the entire time i kept on thinking about that one simpsons episode lol. (intensified considerably when the drink came out a la flaming Moe lol).

Saturday, March 20, 2010

lady gaga + beyonce's telephone vid is a work of genius! it's so kooky! lol. props, costumes, style, man! oh, and the song is pretty catchy too haha.

gaga lost a lot of fluff around her ass and thighs (and the rest of her body in general i guess). you could see it a lot in bad romance too. back in her poker face days, there were never any real close-ups of her full body. anytime you saw thigh, she was always in some weird sitting or laying position to make her look not so round hehe. at least that's what i'm gathering. i think it's also because shes relatively short too, so if she was fluffy and short, it would make her seem... fluffier and shorter! lol. but in telephone it was like "look at me! i have a hollywood body now!" even by japanese standards, she's quite thin now. which isn't so bad, but i think she shouldn't get any thinner than she is now~

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

we were at the movies the other day and came across a promo booklet/ manga for this movie:

the concept isnt all that fresh or anything, but mao (hanadan's tsukushi!) is the main girl, so that makes it automatically something id want to watch haha. anyway, the booklet/ manga was hilarious lol. if you go to the site, you'll see how cute the artwork is!

on a totally different note, i now present my weekend getaway pictures! i think i mentioned in a previous post about going to the peninsula...?

the onsen was fabulous! it was perfect weather temperature-wise to do the open-air bath thing. the buffet dinner was full of local produce - both grown and fished - a tasty adventure it was indeed! we finished off our night with karaoke and card games back in our rooms.

the next morning i signed up for the breakfast which was also buffet style... and it really felt like i was in vegas! after that one of the older grandpa-type jp dudes took a handful of us around on a whirlwind tour of the area which was spectacular! we got to see all the touristy things in the peninsula like the reservoir, the uncountable cabbage patches and other vegetable fields, the lighthouse + navigation tower, the market at the port, the flower fields - which happened to be the main seasonal attraction of the town [the flower species is nanohana, translated as the rapeseed flower (i'll explain that in a bit lol)], and the lovers' beach lol. oh, and the old jp dude's name was Bob. bob was off the hook.

yeah so about the rapeseed flower - it's the plant that we get canola oil from. at first we didnt know why they would name a flower with such a crude name... until we frolicked in the flower meadow ourselves. these flowers stand at about waist height and its blossoms are this bright yellow color, along with its pollen haha. after a stroll through these happy plants, we totally noticed it was all over our upper thigh and crotch area in whitish-yellow splotches and we were all like /gasp "zomg THIS is why they call it the 'rape' flower!"

lol but if you wiki it real fast you'll see the real reason why its name is has 'rape' in it.

and then there were pictures!

check out the sunset!

and those infamous nanohana!

later that night we went to see Hurt Locker. inside the cineplex there was another cardboard cutout photo op thing there - this time for crayon shinChan! hehe~

Friday, March 12, 2010

so i went to my local 100yen store today and along the way i decided to stop by my favorite underground (literally) doujinshi shop, which is actually in the same building as said 100yen shop. after a not-so-quick lookSee, one hetalia doujin in particular caught my eye. now i'm not a huge hetalia fan - havent really been following it, but i just couldnt ignore this one:

isn't it just golden? lol. the artwork is so clean... but the content is so... unclean. LOL.

i'm not going to scanlate it or anything, (im pretty sure all the dudes reading my blog wouldnt really be into that anyway lol) so rest assured lol.

got WAR to 72 yesterday!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

"Rock Paper Scissors, [a.k.a. 'jyanken'] is like the undisputed word of God!"

... so said the dad of the VN kids i see every sunday lol. the older brother wanted me to read The Boy Who Cried Wolf, while the younger sister wanted The Little Mermaid. the older brother said to his sister,"we'll jyanken for it!" the older brother lost.

the older brother then picked up his own book anyway and was like, "this book is more interesting! we're reading this!"

then the dad ran over, gripped the brother by the shoulders, shook him and sternly scolded, "as soon as you put up your fist in jyanken, that means you're going to honor the outcome, win or lose! if you cant accept the fate of the loser, then there's no point in doing jyanken in the first place! youre almost a first grader now! if you dont follow the all-mighty decider that is jyanken, then the Japanese kids won't want to play with you! jyanken is like the undisputed word of god, you got that?! ... you guys are going to read The Little Mermaid now... cause your sister won."

i was like /lol...

i swear i can never get bored with pinky street dolls kekeke. my teacher buddy let me play with a mcDonalds toy she got for her kids and i was like "dude i have the best photo op in my mind right now!"

next weekend there's going to be a fancy dinner party, open-air hot spring, sleepover event that i'll be participating in. the location is a small peninsula town that is relatively far-removed from the big city. the purpose of the event is relaxation lol.

nothing much to report... other than me getting WAR to 71 yesterday!

Monday, March 1, 2010

so graduation was today. nothing but good times. i didnt expect myself to be all emotional, and i was able to keep pretty calm until i went to my international class to see them accept their diplomas (in japan, at least at my high school, they get their diplomas handed to them by their homeroom teachers one by one in their classrooms rather than up on the stage in front of everyone like we do in america) and make a short speech. when the homeroom teacher gave them their diplomas i handed out my chocolate flowers =D so it was super perfect. i was thinking in my mind i would have had to rush into the class during the chaotic aftermath of the graduation ceremony and throw them at whoever i saw in the room (a lot of the other classes had already scattered to go have their yearbooks signed by various other friends/ teachers and to take pictures etc. so i didnt know if i would have had a chance to get them all together and stuff... but yes! it all worked out great!

oh, those kiddies are marvelous!

this graduating class totally embodies my whole JET program experience. they're the first and only kids of my own that ive taught from 1st through 3rd year that i'll ever see graduate so, yeah... they'll forever be MY kids. and as cheesy as saying "i'll never forget them" sounds, (being that i remember stuff pretty well in any case lol) i really will not ever forget them.

we also had some miracle-making today in regard to the weather! there was 80% chance rain predicted all day today and yet all we had were californian blue skies + sunshine along with some faint wispy clouds. maybe around 200pm the clouds started to roll in a bit, but even now at 500pm with the entire sky gray, not a single drop has fallen yet! someone must have made a high-level teruterubozu or something lol.