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L is (now) for the way…

L is (now) for the way...

I loath snow in April. In case you haven’t read my previous post about the turning of the seasons and the abundance of love, you might want to hold off. You know…in case there’s a half inch of ice crystals on your windshield when you wake up the next morning. My honeymoon hope for sunlight romance has been replaced instead by a springtime cynic.

L is for the way…

The world is in love. 

At dusk, soft voices blend in marshland harmony and their chorus is lifted from the soggy earth up over the hills growing in number and strength. Each male voice calls out in desperation, dreaming of the perfect mate with whom to spend the warm days and cool nights. She is all he thinks of, all he lives for, and the reason for his song.

…the mid-March crescendo of nighttime whistles from amorous males is for many a sign that winter is over.

The spring peepers have awoken.

Two friends, one from college & one from high school, are marrying their high school sweethearts in May. As a loyal friend and bridesmaid, I will jump into the car on Friday, drive to New Jersey to pick up another bridesmaid and road trip to Pennsylvania to celebrate with this bride-to-be. This will be my second bridal shower in just a month and I couldn’t be happier for these friends and their fiances about to embark on yet another chapter of their happily ever after. The world is in love.

mcx-modern-love-0114-mdnDaniel Jones is the editor of a New York Times column and author of a new book, Love Illuminated: Exploring Life’s Most Mystifying Subject (with the Help of 50,000 Strangers). Jones has received tens of thousands of stories on the topic of love and has attempted to distill them in a lighthearted and realistic manner, delving into the modern age of dating, online relationships, divorces and second chances.

“After all, love is for the sucker in us, not the skeptic. Love appeals to our gullible side, the part of us that wants to believe. pg 103″ And as each of these engaged couples, longtime partners and blossoming lovers take another shaky step into a unknown future, my heart goes out to them. These are brave souls. There is a great risk in putting trust in another person, giving up control and falling (or leaning) in love. In the modern age of dating, I am personally aware of the mixed signals and awkward silences. Do I like you? Do you like me? Am I too needy or overly aloof? It isn’t easy and the soul mates of the previous century seem to be a thing of the past. But people continue to find love every day and I am grateful to those people willing to take a risk–pushing their chips into the center and going all in.

Mik and ColtI know what many of you are thinking. Who is this blogger and what has she done to the jaded, hopelessly unromantic Katelyn Tsukada? Do not fret. I have not jumped over into a world of star-crossed blissful lovers or ate one too many stale candy hearts left over from February 14th. There will be no “Save the Date” at your door or elopement announcement from my parents in your Inbox (or Span folder). This love is bigger than me. It’s the sun in the morning when I wake up and the 70 degree temperatures during the day. It’s my newfound attempt to regain a healthy food diet and regular gym schedule. And maybe it’s my birthday in ten days and the nervous excitement in anticipation of a new age and new year.

And maybe…maybe spring brings out that part in each of us that so desperately wants to believe in something bigger than ourselves.

Happy Spring.

Living with your questions

March has arrived. The fickle weather pendulum lingers briefly on sunny afternoon before swinging wildly back to January cold and freezing rain. Sometimes spring feels so far away…

One of my wonderful housemates is leaving, forcing the remaining two residents on Henry St. to fill empty shoes with another pair of feet. More than one of my close friends and family members are finding new jobs, quitting old ones and moving forward into uncharted territory. My schedule is filling up with rehearsal times, wedding receptions and other people’s obligations. And in-between all the  planning, I’m forming new relationships while trying to balance life’s most basic questions.

Julie, the housemate who will not be leaving come April 1st, has been privy to much of the change in my life while balancing a plethora of her own challenges and questions. Last week, she gave me incredible solace by quoting a beautiful line from a favorite quote before charging upstairs and rewriting these powerful words from one of Germany’s greatest 20th century poets:

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“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

-Rainer Maria Rilke

photo 1 (1)I hope this helps you, dear reader, during this fascinating and tumultuous time of pre-spring blues. And sleep well knowing that you will fare better than poor Julius Caesar in three days time. Beware the Ides of March. For everything else, there’s cookie butter.

Sweet things

My life is feeling jumbled recently. I moved back into a cubical after a brief stint sharing an office with two fabulous windows and natural light. Our little house on Henry St. had adopted a fuzzy mouse guest that likes to nibble through plastic lids, butternut squash, sacks of flour and sweet potatoes. The weather swings wildly back and forth between frigid wintery chill and balmy spring day. I’ve begun online dating. I’m flying to Washington DC in a week.

2014 is already proving to be a wonderful and terrifying year. So here is a short list of sweet things in my life:

1. Birthday Cards- I sent off a couple birthday cards in the mail this week. I’m bad, very bad, at remembering friends’ birthdays. It’s not for lack of love but more the sporadic nature with which I check my calendar and organize my numerical thoughts. The sending of birthday cards–stamping well wishes and trusting the US Post–feels warm and fuzzy knowing someone far away will physically touch the same envelope and reach the same words that you wrote days earlier. To all my friends whose birthdays I have forgotten, do not despair. There’s always next year. photo (15)

2. Brownies- Not just any brownies but Slutty Brownies. I made these beauties for a co-worker’s birthday and they are most intense, dense and luxurious brownies I’ve ever made. It takes all the decision-making (Cookie? Oreo? Brownie?) difficulties out of your dessert treat. Not for the dieter or faint of heart.

3. Sue and Donna-On Mondays and Wednesdays I wake up at 6:10am, stumble out of bed and navigate my way to the gym as my eyelids slowly unglue themselves from sleep. Sue teaches step/rep exercise classes on these mornings and I love her for all her high energy music and dedication to step aerobics. Donna, a spright 50 year old Asian woman, has more energy than a classroom of kindergardeners and personally recruited me for these deathly early morning workouts. But they are quickly becoming part of my personal routine and considering how much butter is in a slutty brownie, it’s probably for the best.

4. Movies- I don’t see movies much, if at all. And yet by tomorrow morning, I will have seen three within a week’s span. And good films at that. The bare and hauntingly beautiful music in Inside Llewyn Davis and the questions of meaning and longevity in Nebraska have stayed with me long after the lights of the movie house faded back into reality. Food for thought. I can only hope Dallas Buyers Club dusts me with an equally powerful residue that I’ll carry out into my daily comings and goings.

5. Untraveled Places- For obvious reasons. Because they’re waiting for you.

Short, sweet and NOW

Imagine my life as a house. And imagine Ray Bradbury walked into that house unannounced and proclaimed,

“2014 is going to be different. You might not be happy all the time or find all the answers but this year is going to make you think about what is really valuable in life. You will identify and go after those things.”

Maybe Ray said those things and maybe he didn’t. But I’m saying it to you right now.

Fahrenheit 451I’m currently reading Fahrenheit 451 and, let me say, it is the kind of book that makes one shift uncomfortably in bed before falling asleep. Similar to George Orwell’s 1984, this small book packs a realistic punch from a distant unimaginable future. I carry this futuristic dystopian society around with me–to the grocery store, at work, in the gym. How is our current reality similar to a world that hates philosophy and new ideas, a world that burns books? What would I do in such a society? Who would I be?

Which brings me to my very real and very vague 2014 New Year’s Resolution:

Ray Bradbury quote

Life is short. Life is sweet. Life is NOW. 

We are not always given the things we believe we need or deserve. The boss will not award us the promotion or extra week of vacation just because we sit passively waiting for our just desserts. I’ve yet to find my one “true love” while sitting on a park bench watching strangers pass me by. Living is not a passive verb and we are not a passive species. In 2014, I will find things that make my life worth (actively) living. And I will go after those things…whether I’m ready for them or not.

Sometimes you just have to jump out the window and grow wings on the way down.

Planned walk down memory lane

In anticipation of the new year, I’ve purchased tiny pink cans of champagne, a blank Moleskin planner and a new purple ballpoint pen. With only two days left to overindulge in Christmas cookies and make plans for an overly anticipated NYE, I’ve set my mind ahead to 2014. Will my gung ho “fresh out the gate” enthusiasm for the next twelve months dissolve under the pressure of routine, procrastination and reliance on destiny? Only time will tell. sofia

Glancing back at my 2013 planner, I witnessed small snapshots of my past year. I remembered meeting friends for the first time, auditioning for plays and dance groups, accepting a job, noting birthdays I remembered (or forgot), and a brief 3-month obsession with hot yoga. The experiences, mistakes, scheduled appointments– all filed away in the pages of months gone by.

photo (14)How much do we change year to year, moment to moment? Years can pass us by without any noticeable change while a single event may alter the way we view our role in the world forever. My journal entry dated December 26th, 2013 read remarkably like my entry dated exactly one year earlier in 2012. I had the same feelings of nostalgia surrounding Christmas festivities as an adult, insecurity about my future, questions about the definition of home and the absence of romance in my life. Have I changed? How can I tell? Is change tangible, pencil marks on the wall for each inch and every year taller, or a continuous wave ebbing and flowing with the cyclical tide?

If I was to pick a New Year’s Resolution, it would have something to do with mindfulness. Mindnessful, “a state of active, open attention on the present (Psychology Today)” is linked to Buddhism and the practice of meditation. In his book A Gradual Awakening, Stephen Levine compares our thoughts to the cars of a train and encourages the reader to step away from the continuous flow of images and experiences, letting them pass by and disappear around the bend. I’m sick of being overbooked and underwhelmed. I will strength my resolve to live fully within these precious moments with a greater awareness of time and space. We have, after all, only ourselves to suffer with, to love with and to cherish.

Every year is given to us as a gift and it is up to each of us how we use the mystery beneath the wrapping paper.

For you, my dear reader, and for the snow.

I’m sitting at my desk watching the snow drift out of the sky and onto the two lonely minivans in the parking lot beyond my window. The office is quiet today. The world itself seems quiet.

I memorized a poem last week and wanted to share it with you, dear reader. Please close your eyes and imagine a warm place surrounded by the snow globe of your memory. 

Like Snow by Wendall Berry

Suppose we did our work

like the snow, quietly, quietly, 

leaving nothing out. 

 

Happy Holidays.

Race toward home

Pico Iyer, a writer and world traveler, gives an incredibly powerful 14 minutes TED talk titled “Where is home?” He begins with this simple question and delves quickly into a larger discussion on the global community and individual sense of belonging. If you skip the rest of my blog post, at least watch this:

Iyer’s poignant observation regarding movement and stillness rang true in my life as a traveler, a millennial, and a dancer. But his discussion on home also triggered another part of myself. That as a multiracial child in the 21st century.

Which brings me to the Race Card Project (racecardproject.com), a fascinating platform for people to speak about race. Michele Norris with National Public Radio started this project by inviting people to share any thought or experience regarding race. In six words. Some of the stories have been shared on the radio and online. I decided to create my own. What would your race card say? 

“They only see the Asian half.” -My race card

My mother is of Irish and Italian heritage; my father of Japanese descent. Both of my parents were born in the United States as were their parents before them. Both consider themselves to be American as documented by their passports, drivers licenses and birth certificates. My mother and father speak English has their first and only language. And the American child they created and raised together? Well she constantly gets asked where she is “really” from because New York State is never the correct answer.

I learned to identify myself as Asian-American because that is how others categorized me. My classmates assumed Asian was the reason I got good grades. Asian was the reason I liked seafood and tanned like an islander. And Asian was the reason my grandmother was lived in a Colorado internment camp directly following the attack on Pearl Harbor. My history. Asian history. The rich Irish-Italian culture of my mother’s family never stood a chance.

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Hopeful Thankful Season

‘Tis the season– the season for seeing the first dusting of snow, filling shelves with bottles of Cab & Merlot, building fires in the wood stove, and casting stitches for knitted hats, mittens and scarves. The radio stations praise jingling bells and baby boys and Black Friday enthusiasts are setting their alarm clocks across America. Reserve a turkey and plan the menu. The holiday season is here.

This year my Thanksgiving, as many in the past, will be held at my parents’ house. The morning begins with fresh coffee, breakfast bread and the low hum of parade commentary drifting into the kitchen where preparations are in full swing. As cars arrive, hugs are delivered and tinfoil dishes are slid into the oven. Tradition is butternut squash soup served in hollowed turkey-shaped dishes and Grandpa’s pumpkin pie with a healthy dollop of whipped cream. The dining party is small–five wooden chairs arranged at the table–but the quality of the company far surpasses the quantity of faces and names.

I am thankful for these people around my table and seated elsewhere throughout the world. I saver their unyielding support and generosity as I do my braised carrots and mashed potatoes, thyme and time again. Behind everything in my life that I am thankful for–my job, my home, my travels, my future– there is a friend, family member or stranger who contributed to my thanks.

Who are you thankful for?

Giving thanks often begets feelings of guilt. The Philippines will not easily recover from their country’s devastation. Wars are being fought, children shot and voices left unheard. Who am I to sit in a warm house with a full stomach and fuller heart while others struggle for so much less? But guilt does not help the world. Guilt neither feeds the hungry nor protects future generations. It is hope, not guilt, that arises from thankfulness and paves the way forward. Hope is the kindling that fuels the fire of change. Hope pulls us from our beds each morning and tucks us in every night with the promise of a new dawn.

This year on November 28th, wherever you are and whoever you are with, give thanks for all the people and moments in your life that have made you who you are today. And with this thanks find hope in things to come.

photo (13)Want to have a sustainable Thanksgiving? Check out last years blog: Giving Thanks Sustainably.

Philippine Relief

During the summer of 2011, I spent three magical months in a southeast Asian island nation that has recently made its way into newspaper headlines and radio interviews. The Philippines was the place I learned to scuba dive, eat fertilized duck eggs, and formed friendships that have continued long after my return flight home. It is a country of beauty and unyielding hope for a better tomorrow.

letter of hope

I want to thank all my friends and family who reached out to me after hearing about the mass devastation due to Typhoon Yolanda. All of my close friends and host families are safe, protected in other parts of the 7,000+ island country. And while the death toll is less than previously estimated, thousands of people are without homes, food, water or clean clothes. My friend Vivienne recounted a story she heard from a friend living amidst the chaos and struggle for survival:

“It looked like a re-enactment of a zombie apocalypse. People there started destroying homes, banks, groceries. It’s crazy. One of my friend told me that her friend who lives there sleep with guns already.” 

There are a number of organizations currently receiving donations. Due to poor infrastructure and limited transportation, cash donations are preferred for those living outside of the Philippines.

Help Needed

Click the map to view in Google Maps

I will continue to update the post with more organizations accepting aid. My friends in the Philippines are working directly on the ground and I will try to find additional ways to contribute to the cause. Search hashtags on Twitter (#TyphoonHaiyan #yolandaPH #reliefPH #BangonCebu #BangonVisayas #PhilippinesTyphoon) and like these Facebook pages:

  • Help Malapascua - Stay up to date with the region’s relief efforts.
  • Bundles of Joy - Write a letter to show your support.
  • Adopt a Town for Christmas - Find a list of reputable organizations with people on the ground. Contact information and donation pages are available.

Before and After Pictures (Time Magazine)

“So open your heart
Give what you can
We’re all responsible
For our fellow man.”

Excerpt from A Helping Hand by Ray Hansell