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.


La Música de la Pandora

My mother has an insatiable appetite for learning about new cultures, which is only further fueled by her exponentially high interpersonal communication skills. For example:

  1. Amish society. The idea of living without electricity and getting around without cars FASCINATES her. As in, mind blown.
  2. Guatemala. One of her coworkers is Guatemalan and my mom loves to tell us how she learned that TOMS is not as well-received as we American consumers have been led to believe. She usually tells us this while she’s wearing her TOMS, and I’m wearing mine.
  3. Louisiana. One of her dream vacations is to visit New Orleans and see the home of Mardi Gras, the French Quarter, and crawfish. The idea terrifies my father.

So when she and Papa Kim were getting ready to move to Las Vegas and she saw that the moving company they’d hired had sent a team of primarily Hispanic employees, she was right there trying to connect with them and utilizing the one phrase in Spanish that she uses on anyone who even looks Latino/a from the two semesters of college Spanish she’d taken:


That morning, I received an urgent text message from her following the arrival of our movers who were getting ready to pack up our house in California before trekking out to southern Nevada.

My mom: Which Pandora stations would you recommend to our movers?
Me: What? Adele obviously, the one you love.
My mom (in exasperation): No, SPANISH SONGS. They are all Spanish speakers!!!
Me: Alejandro or Vicente Fernandez, Jesse y Joy, Camila, Jenni Rivera.
My mom: I only know Shakira…anything else?

Since I was not there during the truck-loading process, I wasn’t quite sure if she had heeded my suggestions. A few days later when the truck arrived in town, however, I heard her iPad blaring from the kitchen. Correction: I heard her iPad blaring from the kitchen playing SPANISH SONGS. Looks like she did listen to me after all.

Individual stations for all of the artist recommendations I gave Mama Kim

Individual stations for all of the artist recommendations I gave Mama Kim, and then some

Rumour Has It Someone Like You Set Fire To the Rain

For someone to say, “I don’t appreciate Adele,” is as socially acceptable as saying, “Todd Akin only speaks the truth,” “White socks look great with dress pants,” or “I don’t need carbs to be happy.”

Needless to say, this kind of ridiculous just does not happen. And luckily for all global citizens, my mother does not belong to this school of thought. In fact, she is a huge Adele fan.

I am Adele and I am too fab to look at the camera.

My mom: “Adele is such a great singer. I just love her music.”
Me: “Yeah, she is awesome. Her voice is so unique.”
My mom: “And you know what? I feel like the radio stations are reading my mind.”
Me: “What makes you say that?”
My mom: “Well, every time I want to hear a song by Adele, I turn on the radio – and it happens to be playing!”
My dad: “That’s because you are playing Adele’s station on Pandora.”