The Sound of Music

I knew most of the other Asian kids growing up, and for those that I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting, Mama Kim knew their mamas. And of these Asian kids I knew, everyone played an instrument. The formula was always as follows –

Piano + String Instrument or the Flute

Once in a while there would be some curveball who played something weird like the oboe or the saxophone. Which was cool, because you know, they were trying to “be an individual,” or something, but those kids usually ended up being the first to declare themselves as pre-med, pre-law, or engineering, so in the end they still managed to lower their parents’ blood pressure.

Music education pretty much came to a complete and total stop as soon as I shook my principal’s hand while receiving my fake high school diploma on stage for an overpriced stock photo. So when my sister decided a few years after college to purchase a “Learn How to Play Guitar in 15 Days” kind of kit for what could not have been more than $24.99, she decided to put her lesson to good use.

My sister: Mom, Mom! Did you like my song?
My mom: Yes. I don’t know what you were playing, but I liked it.

I write regularly about how my parentals do not verbally express their love with “I love you,” and how I genuinely have no idea how to refer to someone as “sweetheart,” “pumpkin,” or any other type of diabetes-inducing sweet treat, but I know Mama Kim loves me. I know this because one time, this happened.

Is that music to one's ears, OR WHAT

Is that music to one’s ears, OR WHAT

Me: *Fa la la la insert a Top 40 hit here* Mom, Mom! Did you like my singing?
My mom: I can stand it.


One of a Kind, With Three In Mind

As the eldest of three children I’ve always been an advocate against having an odd number of children. Here’s why.

  1. Disneyland. Space Mountain only has seats in rows of 2. Meaning someone has to either sit solo, or with a weirdo.
  2. Ski lifts. While these are designed to seat up to 4 people sometimes, I’ve seen pairs of siblings zip down the mountain with no regard for the progress of the last sister (um, or brother).

I’m not saying that either of the above have happened to me SPECIFICALLY, but I may or may not have had personal experience in witnessing these scenarios with my own two eyes. On top of all of this comes the problem of a lack of identity. At work, I’ve managed teams of up to 1,100 employees, so to keep track of three offspring doesn’t seem to be too much to ask, but sometimes, maybe it is.

My dad: “One of you, please get me the TV remote. Hello? Um, um…JENDY! The remote!”

None of us is named Jendy. I’m Sandy. My sister is Jamie. And my brother is Dennis. Our dog’s name is Soba.

Now that our family of five is spread across three continents, staying in touch is a combination of messaging, emails, and FaceTime. After a few weeks of limited communication due to everyone’s work and travel plus the time differences, an alert popped up on my phone, notifying me of a new message from my dad.

My dad: “Happy birthday.”
Me: “Wrong kid.”

Some time passed before I get another message.

My dad: “You are <insert my correct birthday here>? So sorry…”

Life goes on.

Life goes on.


The Netflix Narrative

The thing about living with my dad these days as opposed to living with him back then is that I get to watch a lot more TV now than when I was a kid. On the nights when we are both home, we are two badasses manning the remote control like it’s nobody’s mother effing business. And ever since my little sister gifted us her Netflix account, we have since promoted ourselves from coach to first class.

For the most part, the two of us are pretty good about compromising when it gets time to picking a movie. For the “most” part.

Me: Dad, I’m going to browse through the DVD section while you’re off shopping in another part of Costco.
My dad: You don’t need to buy any DVDs. We have your sister’s Netflix account now.
Me: But none of these movies are available on Netflix.
My dad: They will be. In a few years.

Sometimes, though, the generation gap comes into play.

Me: What do you think about watching “The Godfather” tonight?
My dad: Oh, that sounds good. Plus, we have that! We don’t even need to use Netflix to watch it.
Me: I can’t find it.
My dad: Oh, you know what? We have it on VHS. And I don’t want to set up the machine. Can we watch something else?

This is really almost happening!

This is really almost happening!

Now with all the Netflix sharing going on between our house and my sister’s computer, there has only been one hiccup to date.


Just Visualize It

We can do your taxes to the IRS’ liking, we can design high-speed rail systems of epic proportions, and we can crush the living daylights out of you in a round of badminton.

Ask us Asians about interior design, on the other hand, and the buck stops there. “Having a home” is generally considered to be more important than “decorating a home,” so until Martha Stewart learns to speak Mandarin, we are otherwise on our own. I’m not sure what happened to the creative drive that allowed us to invent paper and porcelain a zillion years ago, but it seems as if now all Asians just fill their homes with the same things:

  1. A piano. Could be a grand, baby grand, upright – doesn’t matter. Everyone has to have one because without it, your child will automatically be rejected from UCAC: University of California, Any Campus.
  2. Lighting. We are obsessed with illumination. Floor lamps, ceiling lights, desk lamps – you name it. Remember: physics homework can’t solve itself in the dark. Generally these do not match.
  3. Bedding. Most families I know have guest room bedding, bedding for guests, extra bedding for when guests come, and also emergency guest bedding. There is never a shortage of bedding. These definitely do not match.

Now that we have relocated to Las Vegas, though, my mother is determined to break this cycle of unremarkable home decoration. She tells my father in great frequency that we can now only purchase “beautiful things,” and we all must work harder to “maintain the house” so that it stays in Pinteresting shape. “Visualize it! We have to visualize it!” is the mantra. With that in mind, here are some ways that my father and I have managed to spruce up our house:

Welcome to la cocina de los Kim

Welcome to la cocina de los Kim

Help yourself to a napkin. Please.

Help yourself to a napkin. Please.

The most epic TV room in all of the land

The most epic TV room in all of the land

Enjoying the view on a summer afternoon

Enjoying the view on a summer afternoon

The only kicker is, my mother is not here. By “not here,” I mean she is still in our home state of California enjoying temperatures 20 degrees cooler than Las Vegas, while my father and I otherwise have no one else to cling to for survival in this wilderness of a new neighborhood. The problem with being “not here,” though, means that we are not allowed to make any permanent alterations to our abode because according to my mother, she is not here to “visualize it!” That’s a big thing for her. So let’s take this time now to deconstruct the temporary decoration from the above photos.

The beautiful new kitchen with granite countertops?
That’s a piece of cardboard acting as a backsplash for any hoppin’ and poppin’ oil while we cook.

The striking round napkin holder contrasting with the square napkins?
That’s a springform pan used to bake cakes that I brought from my old house.

The sprawling openness of our living room?
That’s every unused chair in the house because we’re not allowed to get a couch.

The dramatic windows that allow us to enjoy the desert sunset every evening?
That’s butcher paper covering said windows because we can’t get window treatments.

My dad: We need a clock. Can I hang a clock on the wall?
My mom: No drilling holes anywhere! I HAVE TO VISUALIZE IT!!!

Don’t Bother Me. I’m Crunching.

A man races to beat the clock as he wakes up trapped in the horrors of a virtual reality. As he plots his daring escape to return home he finds himself suddenly barricaded. Standing between him and his return are roadblocks that line a multi-level race course. He makes a breakthrough in his journey when he unintentionally shifts one of the obstacles into small groups, and suddenly the passage appears to clear faster. Knowing his survival depended on reaching the end of the road, he works quicker to plow through in order to avoid what could only be impending death.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the epic story of how millions of global citizens have become addicted to Candy Crush. My father is one of them.

Before the creation of Candy Crush, my dad allotted the same kind of focus in selecting a VHS film

Before the creation of Candy Crush, my dad allotted the same kind of focus in selecting a VHS film

Having not yet had the privy of enjoying the unique obsession and delusion afforded by this game, I have slowly come to realize that unless I give into the grips of this newfound craze, I simply will not be able to relate to those who do.

Me: Dad, I’m going to go walk the dog now. What are you doing?
My dad: I’m playing Sugar Crunch.
Me: (Blink, blink.) What?
My dad: Bye, see you later.

Now, I’m not a parent myself – nor am I anywhere close to becoming one – but I have been told by various sources that parenthood is one of the most fulfilling life achievements one can attain and that children are the most important part of one’s life. Granted, these sources include the following –

  1. Grown ups with kids.
  2. My friends with kids.
  3. The Duggars.

So imagine my frustration one day when I frantically contacted my dad with an urgent issue and received zero communication from the man who is generally very responsive between the hours of 8a-10p. Apparently my problem was urgent enough for me to have been flustered at his lack of an answer, but not enough to remember what it was about.

Luckily, he finally responded to my text messages.

My dad: Hi Sandy, this is Mom using your dad’s phone.
Me: Hello, Mom.
My dad’s phone: Dad says he will call you back later. He is busy playing Candy Crush right now.

I think the meme says it all Credit:

I think the meme says it all