Grinds (2/16/20)

I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about today, so I googled, “random writing prompt generator.” What popped up was, “write about your relationship with food.” PERFECT, I LOVE FOOD.

I’ll start by saying, I’ve always been a little overweight. Maybe that’s not the best way to start writing about my relationship with food, but I think it’s an excellent place for some context. I was 150-ish pounds by the fourth grade, and haven’t dipped anywhere close to that weight since. I’ve never been a picky eater. My parents raised me to eat everything on my plate, with the threat of some unknown consequence. I think overall, it was a positive thing. Besides the more unusual food items like bitter melon, or chicken feet, I’ll pretty much eat anything you put in front of me. I still have friends that say “yuck” when they hear the word “vegetables,” and it makes me cringe!

I was lucky to grow up in a household where my mom and dad both cooked, and a majority of the meals we ate were prepared at home. My love for all things related to eggs came from my dad. Whether it was scrambled eggs, over-easy eggs, or omelets, I learned to appreciate them all. I can walk into the kitchen, fry up a few over-easy eggs, and be eating them in five or so minutes (depending on how long it take the pan to heat up). I can do this with just one hand! Having cracked open so many eggs myself, I just taught myself to do it one-handed. I’m still working on the left hand, though.

The general cooking techniques I learned from my mom. I never knew why we cooked the garlic and onions with the oil first, but I knew to do it from her. I later learned that those things are considered “aromatics,” and the heated oil releases aromas and flavors that you want to impart on whatever dish you’re cooking. I learned to hold the knife a certain way with my right hand and to make my fingers curled in a certain way while holding the onion down on the cutting board with my left hand. I also learned how quickly your finger bleeds when you get lazy and hold the onion lazily.

I was talking to my friend a few years ago, and she told me that her mom would never let her or her siblings into the kitchen when they were growing up. So they never learned to cook from her. It made me appreciate my mom for letting my brother and I bother her in the kitchen and help her cut up veggies or stir the aromatics while they simmered in the pan. Sometimes when people tell me they “know how to cook”, what they mean is they know how to boil water in the microwave and make instant ramen, or Kraft mac and cheese. I’m so thankful I was lucky enough to have parents that had the time and patience to at least teach their kids the basics.

Sure I’ve been overweight, but that’s probably because of portion control. I’ve never been one to down full-sugar soft drinks or fast food more than once every other week. One of the things I was lucky to have, three out of my four years in college, was a kitchen. No matter how busy I was with school, I’d take an hour or two to cook every night. It was relaxing and rewarding, and probably great for mental health. I lived with guys from Hawaii throughout college, so we always had a rice cooker with rice in it. We’d always have a Costco sized bag full of onions, and a case of cream of mushroom. Cooking prep usually started by dicing up some onions, then cooking some kind of meat product, and topping it off with cream of mushroom. We are the kings of meat, onions, and cream of mushroom dishes! Full of flavor, always filling, and the naps afterward were beautiful.

I moved home after college and was sucked into the world of endurance sports by my brother. First into cycling, and then into full-on triathlons. It consumed me for three years. In that time, my relationship with food transformed from one of pleasure to one of sustenance. I thought about food as a fuel source rather than something to just be enjoyed. Not to say I didn’t enjoy the food I was eating, my mindset just shifted. I think it was healthy for me to develop that side of the coin because it’s helped me the last couple of years on my various dieting escapades. I’d choose my meals based on the activity I’d be doing the next day, or even in the next few hours. At the time, it was higher carbs before long or intense workouts and more veggies and protein before light activity days. For the most part, I didn’t care how the food tasted because I just wanted to make sure my workouts would be fueled for optimum performance. If I was going to spend a bunch of money on the sport and dedicate 10-20 hours a week training, I was going to make sure I got the most out of the workouts.

Fast forward to today, my relationship with food is quite healthy. I wouldn’t say it’s a positive or negative relationship. My goal is 80% of the time to eat as clean as possible. That means no processed carbohydrates, a decent amount of veggies, and as little processed protein sources as possible. So I consume a lot of steak and ground meats, like beef, bison, or turkey. I try to eat various types of veggies of varying colors to get a broader spectrum of micronutrients. On days that I workout, I make sure to accompany the whole foods with multivitamins and other supplements like collagen, flaxseed oil, and spirulina, to name a few. The other 20% of the time is alotted for those days when I’m celebrating someone’s birthday, or playing at a wedding with a unique spread of delicacies. That 20% is meant for guilt-free eating of that chocolate Dobash cake or that bread pudding with haupia sauce.

My love for cooking and my triathlon days have molded a pretty healthy and sustainable relationship with food. It helps me cook delicious yet “clean” food on a majority of my days, and be okay with eating that cake on those few and far between days.

Cheers!

OB Noodle House (2/11/20)

*Delayed post. Fell asleep after I wrote it on account of food coma, and forgot I wrote it.*

It’s Tuesday, which means it’s my last full day here in SD before my full day of traveling to get back home tomorrow. Currently, I’m sitting on a couch, sipping on a locally brewed coffee/chocolate stout at 2:25pm, with a handsome dog laying to my right. Rewind to this morning, after we dropped Cat off at work, Ili and I went for a decent walk in downtown SD near Cat’s workplace. He barked at zero people, barked at zero dogs, ate grass like ten times, peed until he was shooting blanks, and pooped twice. It was a productive stroll for us. Cat had pointed out to me that when he wants to poop, he starts smelling around a bit more than usual and starts to do a “sidestep” thing. I wasn’t sure what she was talking about until I witnessed his sidestep into poop-squat maneuver myself. 

Drove back to Cat’s to feed the pup. Mostly wanted him to finish his food so I could give him one of the treats I bought him from Trader Joe’s on my last visit. They’re some peanut butter flavored dog biscuit type snack and smell identical to graham crackers. Almost curious enough to taste it on the smell alone. I can tell Ili likes it because he doesn’t just start eating it, he makes sure he takes it a little ways away from me and eats it in privacy. Last night I was laughing at him because he seems to snore just like a human does. Cat asked me how dogs snore differently than humans, and I had no answer. Maybe I haven’t been around sleeping dogs much? Regardless, I’m amused. 

After Ili and I got back home after the walk, I wanted to make a game plan – one that included a stop at a Trader Joe’s, maybe at an In & Out, and possibly at OB Noodle House. A quick check through google maps indicated that there was a route that included an In & Out, a Trader Joe’s, and finally the golden gem of Ocean Beach, OB Noodle House. I made a game-time decision to bypass In & Out on my way to Trader Joe’s, so I could enjoy my meal at OB Noodle House even more. After a quick stop at TJ’s, to buy some seasonings and cookies, I drove with much haste (legally) to OB Noodle House. It was around 1 pm, there was zero wait time, and I was beyond excited. I sat down and immediately ordered.

“Could I get one extra-large 1502 Special pho, the crispy Tiger Shrimp…” “okay, will…” 

“Oh, one more thing, sorry, and the spicy garlic wings!” 

Now I’ve eaten at enough places alone to hear some variation of this next quote many times. Once I ate alone at Din Tai Fung, located in the Del Amo Fashion Center mall in Torrance, California. I received zero reaction for ordering six dishes by myself and remains one of the only instances where I received such a response. At OB Noodle House today, I got a, “Oh yeah! Treat yo self!” I just laughed in agreement, instead of trying to explain I was only planning to eat the pho and take most of the other stuff to go. On my last visit, Cat took me to OB Noodle House, and I’ve been craving the 1502 Special pho ever since. The menu describes it as “Hormone Free, Grass Fed American Style Kobe Wagyu Beef.” And somehow it tastes even better than that modest description lets on.

For pho to be delicious, in my opinion, it needs to satisfy specific guidelines. Number one, it’s 85% about the broth. If the broth is delicious, almost anything you add into it is going to taste just dandy. You can drink the broth by itself and be satisfied. The other thing is the meat to everything else ratio. Is there meat in almost every bite of noodle you take? If the answer is yes, you’ve got yourself a winning ratio. Other than the broth not being hot, nothing is worse than getting a full bowl of noodles and four small pieces of steak. OB Noodle House passes with flying colors.

I’d love to type more, but not eating carbs for the last four weeks has reintroduced the dreaded Kanak attack (food coma). It’s hitting me quite hard. Okay, good night. 

Happiness (2/15/20)

While at the gym tonight, I heard a quote from Lewis Howes’ podcast, The School of Greatness. The episode was titled ’10 “Happy Habits” Successful People Do Differently.’ Lewis opens the podcast with a quote from Gandhi that goes, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in Harmony.” Of course, I listened to the rest of the podcast, but that opening quote lingered in the back of my mind the whole time. I thought genuinely about where my happiness is at today.

“What you say… what you think…” 

 I feel like I have a healthy outlook on life. Through my life experiences, I’ve developed a level headed ability to “not sweat the small stuff,” pause in times of abnormal circumstances, back up and try and take in the big picture. I take a moment and ask myself, “what significance will this particular moment have on the bigger outcome of my life?” It’s not always easy to do that, especially when emotions and stress are high in the moment. But I think it’s one of those things, like a muscle that needs to must be developed through repetitions. In a way, it’s like meditation. 

I know one method of meditation is to focus on the breath. Whenever the mind wanders into other thoughts, and when you become aware of it, simply bring the attention back to the breath. Don’t feel mad or disappointed that it wandered. Acknowledge that it did, and move on. After enough consistent repetitions, the time it takes to notice the mind wandering lessens. You spend more time focusing on the breath and less time “wandering.” Being able to recognize when to take a step back is a lot like recognizing the wandering mind. 

What does this have to do with my happiness? I think what I say and what I think are pretty harmonious. I come off as a levelheaded guy with levelheaded advice (when it’s asked for, most of the time haha). I know all the steps I need to take to be successful, and I say those things out loud. I believe in what I say. 

Now about, “What you do…”

In many facets of my life, what I do lines up with what I say and think, while in other aspects, it hasn’t. For example, I know to better my musicality, I need to practice consistently. I say that I need to out loud, but doing it is another story. I say I want to hang my hat on songwriting eventually, and I know to better my craft at songwriting, I need to write consistently. I say that I need to out loud, but doing it is another story. I know that to become healthier, I need to eat better consistently. I say that I need to out loud, but I have no problem doing it. Honestly, I’m pretty good about eating healthier. The musicality and songwriting have been the cause of dissonance between saying, thinking, and doing.

So, where is my happiness level right now? I think it’s been as high as it’s ever been! Sure, I have a ton of things to be grateful for in my life. But besides that, I think the leading cause of happiness is, across the board, I’m doing those things I say and think more often. I’ve been trying to take time daily in writing. Maybe not songwriting specifically, but writing in general (which is a start). I’ve been learning piano, which in turn is making me study music theory. And I’ve been picking up the guitar at home more often. 

Based on fresh personal experience, I think there is a lot of merit to that quote. So I’m saying and thinking right here and now, that I want to do all of these things. Like Nike says: JUST DO IT. 

Chilly Balboa Trot (2/10/20)

I take pride in being okay in climates that most of the people I know would find uncomfortably cold. I take pride in growing up in Wahiawa heights, where, as far as I know, it has some of the coldest weather on the island of Oahu.

One of the things I remember growing up was an old school thermometer encased in aluminum, hanging on by chicken wire to a decorative horizontal board skirting at face level on the garage outside, nearest the back porch. Every morning at around 5:50am, when we were being mushed out the door to the family van to get to the school bus on time, I’d have a look to see what the temperature read. Almost every morning, it was cold enough to see my breath, usually in the 50’s and sometimes the low 60’s. However, on some mornings, those mornings where you needed to fight all kinds of internal biological red flags to get out from under the quilt, you just knew it was going to say something crazy. I can’t remember exactly, but I swear I remember seeing that thermometer dip under 40º F one morning. It often got in the 40’s, especially during the winter and spring months. But high 30’s is some other kind of beast, in Oahu of all places. Unless I’m visiting my parents, I rarely experience anything remotely close to those childhood morning temperatures on Oahu.

On that note, I’m in San Diego right now, visiting Catherine. For the last five or so weeks, I’ve been slowly building up my tolerance for cardiovascular activities; Jogging. It’s one part of my overall regiment of improving my health, including eating better and sleeping more. But I actually started jogging so that eventually, when I got enough mileage in the muscle memory and the lungs, I could run with Cat and her handsome dog Ili in SD. Tonight we officially got our first run in as the Oriental-Eyed Trio Run Club. I understand the current climate surrounding that word, “oriental,” but it’s more an inside joke since someone said Cat’s dog had oriental eyes once. Why was I talking about the temperature to start off this entry? Well, that’s because it was cold enough to see my breath and make me hide my hands in the long sleeve dry-fit shirt I wore during said inaugural run.

We did an easy two-mile course through the Balboa Park Museums via the Cabrillo Bridge. The bridge crosses over the Cabrillo Highway 163 into the west side of Balboa Park from Bankers Hill above downtown San Diego. At 7:00pm, it was already dark, and a handful of other runners and dog owners were hitting the pavement with us. The air hit me with a gentle hand when I exited the car, and I thought about how nice it is and how much more I’d run if it was this cold on Oahu. Cat, on the other hand, was visibly and audibly not having it. We walked a little bit away from our neighborhood parking stall towards the park and stretched for a minute on the sidewalk of a street corner. I squatted and spread my legs to stretch out the quads and hips, and Cat opted to do toe touches for the hamstrings and raise the front of her foot on the base of the streetlight post to stretch the calves. We started north along Sixth Street till we hit the bridge, and I could immediately see it was going to be a beautifully scenic run through the park. The bridge is more than adequately lit up, with wide sidewalks on either side. There was something about the way the different colors lit up the sides of the buildings, creating dramatic shadows, completely changing the feel of them from normal daytime viewing. We did a stop on the way back out of the park at the amphitheater, where Cat said they sometimes had the symphony play and also held a big beautiful organ. As we were walking, I looked around and said, “I could do this run every night.” It really was beautiful.

We finished up the run, made it back to the car. Cat said, “did we earn burritos?” I said, “yes, also I flew all the way over here, so. Yeah, burritos.”

The BURRITOS were FUCKING AMAZING.

Checklist 2/9-2/11 (2-8/9-20 on the Plane)

Currently “trying to sleep,” on the plane ride to L.A., but failing miserably. So of course, if I can’t sleep, I’ll do some math. Let’s see I’ve got roughly 72 hours in Cali. To be on the safe side of immunity, I should probably try for 6-ish hours of sleep a night, so I don’t get sick again. So there goes 18 hours. It leaves me with 64 hours. Cat will have to be at work Monday and Tuesday for let’s say 9-10 hours if the case she’s working on will be as tough and involved as she thinks it will be. So that’s another 20 hours. That leaves me with 44 hours. She will probably have to do some work at home, so let’s tack off like 5 more hours. 

Alright, so that leaves me with 39-ish precious hours. Here’s my checklist of things I want to get done in that time:

  • When Cat picks me up at the airport, I want her to put the car in park, get out and hug me till we melt into each other’s arms. I will try to kiss her. Multiple times.
  • Cat’s been having some pain in her shoulder/arm recently, so I brought my massage impact gun with me on this trip. Also, I used a 3oz travel bottle I bought at Target one night and filled it with a pikake scented massage oil that I purchased from Whole Foods a few nights ago. I disguised that visit as a mission to get smoked salmon since I was FaceTiming her at the time. I did purchase smoked salmon. I’d like to massage her until her muscles melt into pain-free submission, and she never has to be in pain for the next couple weeks till her doctors’ appointment to get that checked on. 
  • Last Fall, I may have really hyped up Sous Vide steak to her, then never actually made it for her while she was visiting Oahu during The holidays. So I packed my Anova Sous Vide machine in my carryon. I made sure, while going through the security checkpoint at the airport, to take out both the Anova and the impact massage gun, and put them in their own tray. I wanted to make it easy for TSA to see them. I watched an older looking TSA agent spend about two minutes looking at my tray on the X-ray machine. Finally another younger agent came over and immediately told him what both things were. So while Cat is at work one day, I will make the trek across to Ralphs to pick up some grossly underpriced steak (in relation to Hawaii’s red meat prices) and make some sous vide steak for her. I want to watch it melt in her mouth and completely fulfill all of the expectations, hopes, and dreams, that I impressed upon her during my Sous Vide hype tour.
  • I want to go running with her, and her handsome, handsome specimen of a dog, until my legs and lungs melt, because I know that will amuse her. The reason I started running last month was so that I could do exactly this when I came to visit the next time. I know she appreciates my hard work, running the lonely streets of Kailua at night, or the boring treadmill at the gym. 

Well, that’s about all I want to accomplish in those 39 hours. And if I can’t do any of those things, I really won’t mind as long as I get to spend it with Cat. Let me try and melt my consciousness into a quick session of REM sleep before we land. T minus 3-ish hours till Operation “Melt It All” commences. 

Update: I caught a Lyft from the airport. Will have to relocate melty first hug. 

Chicken Skin Sharks (2/7/20)

This will be a quick 15 minute write today. Got a few things to do today.

I woke up on my own this morning! Cat did send me a text afterward, to make sure I was up. She wasn’t able to call today on account of being slammed at work — all good. I get to see her in a couple of days anyway 🙂

I think today I’m going to run over to the gym in town for a quick workout before my gig in Kailua, so when the gig is finished, I can just worry about getting the rest of my things packed in my carryon and get the house tidied up before tomorrow. Once I leave the house in the morning, I won’t be coming back till Wednesday.

With so much anticipation and excitement, I don’t know what to write about besides that. I’m going to be honest; I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited to see someone. Last night I was thinking about seeing Cat, and my hands felt tingly. I had ‘chicken skin’ on my arms. I know I’m going to meet her and her friends for a concert, which will be fun, but I probably won’t be paying much attention to the music. All that will matter is that I’m there with Cat, and I’m going to be as present as I can.

I think we’re going to walk around the Aquarium there as well, and in that case, I think I’ll pay attention to the sharks in the “petting zoo” section, cause that’s pretty damn cool. See you soon, Sharks. And Cat 🙂