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.

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Growing up, there were a few things that I was petrified of saying to my parents.

“Mom and Dad, I got in a car accident.”
“Mom and Dad, I got a B this semester in math.”
“Mom and Dad, I started seeing someone.”

And then there were those things I would never, EVER say to them.

“Mom and Dad, what if I didn’t go to college?”

Oh, no. No, no, no. As the offspring of immigrants, we knew from day one that first comes college, then comes love, then comes marriage and the rest of that K-I-S-S-I-N-G song. “Not going” was simply “not applicable.”

Is there ever such a thing as "too much" homework?

How come parents don’t believe in a thing called “too much homework”?

My younger sister Jamie and I both had a pretty clear idea of either where we wanted to go or what we wanted to study by the end of high school, so the college application process for us was relatively painless. Our brother, on the other hand, was as undecided as it could get.

“I’m a great coach and tutor, so maybe I want to be a teacher. But I know I’m also good with people, so maybe I should go into hotel management like you, Sandy. I really like my psychology class that I’m taking now, though, do you think I should major in psych? I have an interest in photography too, suppose I studied art?”

Needless to say, the above conversation was just about what to study. We hadn’t even yet reached the point of where to study. Eventually we made it there, and soon it became the anticipated waiting game for acceptance (and unfortunately, rejection) letters. When the time came to select a campus, Jamie felt it would be helpful to offer some insight into how she ended up at the school that she did.

My sister: “I chose the U.S. Coast Guard Academy for the free education and the chance to serve my country.”
My brother: “Yes, but the University of Arizona will give me a free iPad if I go there.”

Priorities made in 'Murrica.

Keeping it real, only in ‘Murrica.

Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That

When my sister expressed an interest a few years ago in attending the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, the rest of us weren’t sure how to process this information. Not because we thought she was crazy, but because all we heard was, “Aakboir42onvbjfl cviornkb 309bkke.” It wasn’t until she returned home for the first time after enrolling that we really begin to see just how different a military school was from a “normal” university.

We listened in horror as she relayed tales of what essentially translated to just a lot of marching and a whole lot more of yelling. We leaned in as she told us about having to turn corners in the hallways at 90 degree angles, eating meals while being able to look forward only, and memorizing the day’s meals for recitation to her superiors. I’m pretty sure we just call this “hazing” as civilians.

To top it all off, we also learned that failure to meet the academy’s expectations would result in, um, coaching opportunities that included staying on patrol duty longer or keeping doors to one’s dorm open later.

My sister: “I had a classmate who played a prank on one of the kids in my class.”
My dad: “Did anything happen to her?”
My sister: “Oh yeah. She was required to stay in uniform until 2200 for three weeks.”
Me, my dad, and my brother (in unison): “Ohhh.”

Only 2008

Timeless. We were literally TIMELESS.

My mom: “What do you mean, ‘until 2200’? But it’s only 2008 right now!”

Fear and Loathing in Connecticut

My family and I were recently in Connecticut for a family vacation. Let me just explain that the only reason we were in Connecticut was because my sister had the genius idea in high school to attend college at the United States Coast Guard Academy. I always feel the need to explain why I was there because nobody I know would ever vacation there out of their own free will. But alas, several hours of transit later, I found myself in a place where in the time it takes to drive 3 miles in Los Angeles, you could be zipping through 3 states already.

Yay, Connecticut!

It is common Coast Guard Academy tradition to rent a beach house with your family a week leading up to graduation, which is the child-friendly version of saying you’d be boozing it for more than a couple of days with your friends and family. In the spirit of the festivities, my parentals decided to host my sister’s entire softball team. And what’s a graduation party without alcohol?

After going to Wal-Mart and finding out they didn’t even sell the stuff, we ended up at a mom & pop liquor store, where it became clear that Connecticut was not like Las Vegas: alcohol is not sold on Sundays.

“Sorry, English is not my first language – I’m not sure I understand!”

Mortified, my father did what any self-righteous parent of a college graduate would do:

Literally the answer to all of our problems

Dad: “Siri, does Rhode Island sell alcohol on Sundays?”