Every little bit counts

We have only put up a few strings of lights so far but even so, I feel like every tiny effort puts me in a more celebratory mood.

IMG_0215We are trying to decide whether to put up a tree this year. Part of me is hesitating because we will be in Idaho for the actual holiday but isn’t that such a Scrooge-y attitude to take? Part of me is also wondering whether I should just cave and buy a fake tree because it might be more convenient if we will be gone for a week. But then in the midst of all this holiday contemplation, I stop to ask myself what should be the most important question: WWJD?

He would, of course, encourage me to get a tree. Get a real tree. Also, to reread A Christmas Carol. Watch Elf. Pray. Drink hot chocolate.

I’m going to get right on that.



Plan F: Further Thoughts On Food



There is this common complaint among Korean wives. They lament the fact that their husbands and families devour meals in a fraction of the time that it took to actually prepare them. Now, I now that this is a fairly common sentiment for most people that cook, either professionally or as an amateur but it does feel especially true for Koreans because Korean food is highly labor intensive. I don’t make Korean food at home. Still, I would say on average it takes me longer to preheat the oven than for Adan to eat what comes out of it.

When we go out to eat, we usually order, get our food, and are finished before any of the tables around us. Including those groups arrived before us. We got really excited once at the Waffle House because an entire family was seated after us and got up before us. That is, until we realized that they had ordered their food to go. Is there a 12-step support group for fast eaters? And seriously, who orders waffles to go?

What constitutes healthy eating? And other random musings on food


There is this well-known weight loss advice that goes: Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.

On the weekends, Adan and I adjust that saying ever so slightly and end up eating breakfast like a king, lunch like an emperor, and dinner like a dictator.

So we eat a lot. But do we eat healthy? Well, compared to Willy Wonka and the average college student, yes. Compared to other adults of our age? Not sure how we stack up. During the week, I meal plan and stick to the million different ways to cook with chicken or prepare pasta, and usually vegetables. We don’t eat red meat often and for a few years stopped eating processed meats altogether (with the exception of bacon for obvious reasons, namely because it makes me feel like heaven is a place on earth). We don’t keep soda or chips in the house, we don’t drink juice or eat processed foods much. But dessert does make a near nightly appearance at our home.

As to eating schedules, there is one and it is not forgiving. I must always eat lunch exactly 4 and a half to 5 hours after breakfast. Between breakfast and lunch, there is a little bit more leeway but that is because I usually snack every hour on the hour. I try not to veer from the routine because hunger changes me. It takes me to dark places. Adan calls it “being a baby” (presumably because I throw fits and become highly volatile–no offense to all the even-tempered babies out there), whereas I call it “suffering from low blood pressure.”

90% of my conversations with other people revolve around food. In fact, sometimes when I feel anxious or depressed or the world we are living in makes no sense, I will start to think about what I am going to eat the next day for each meal, and for some reason that soothes me. It is a meditation of sorts.

Lame jokes are the best

There are a lot of retired Americans and Canadians living in Ajijic.

Sometimes when Adan and I go there, I will occasionally overhear a conversation in Spanish, and I catch myself thinking, “I wonder where they’re from?”

Which reminds me of a joke I once heard: What is the difference between Miami and Cancun?

In Miami, they speak Spanish.

These are a few of my favorite things: NPR podcast edition

I listen to podcasts that aren’t produced by NPR, of course. It just happens that a lot of the ones that I obsess over are NPR. I am a huge fan of virtually everything NPR produces. The only other company I can say that about is Costco. These are just two of my personal favorites:

How I Built This logoThe show synopsis describes it as “a podcast about innovators, entrepreneurs, and idealists, and the stories behind the movements they built.” I don’t secretly fantasize about starting a company or owning a small business but I love hearing other people’s stories, especially when they are talking about something they feel really passionate about or have expert knowledge in. For example, there’s an interview with the two co-founders of Reddit that I loved (and I don’t even use Reddit). The episode on Airbnb is fun and enlightening as is the one with Alli Webb, founder of Drybar. They all talk about the hard work, the sheer excruciating endless and sleepless months and years it took to get them to the “wildly successful” place they are now but they also in equal measure talk of the serendipity of being at the right place at the right time.

Rough TranslationTapping out Anna Karenina through a prison wall. American surrogates hired by Chinese women to have their babies. Affirmative action in Brazil. Noteworthy topics from an international perspective.



(images and podcasts can be found on npr.org)

These are a few of my favorite things: restaurant edition

This is currently our favorite place to eat:


Absolutely everything we’ve tried in their extensive-but-not-overwhelmingly-so menu has been top notch but what I really rave about? Their onion rings. You know how normally when you bite into an onion ring it falls apart? The limp onion pulls away from the breading and it all crumbles. The onion rings here have the perfect, crisp consistency. We took Adan’s co-worker there a little while back.


His name is Olivier and he hates to be called Oliver. He will correct you if you do. Naturally, I am reminded of the little girl called Amabelle in the book Big Little Lies and how everyone kept calling her Annabelle. As someone who also has an unconventional name, I have to admire his patience and persistence. Most everyone in Mexico says my name wrong and I never correct them because it feels rude to do so. I will say that I do have one pet peeve about other people saying my name. I don’t love when people shorten my name to Choong (there are a few people that can get away with it, that have called me this for years and I don’t mind) because as I am always explaining to people: Choong Sil is not the equivalent of Mary Jane. It’s is not two separate names but both syllables make up one name.

My name means fidelity and is made up by the two Chinese characters that together have the meaning to bear much fruit, to be fruitful. When people ask me why I don’t just adopt a Mexican name to make everyone’s life easier, the main reason is that despite the complications, I like what my name stands for.