Seeing spam in my posts using Google Reader? Go to the url.

It’s not you. Or Google reader. It’s my site. And obviously, I don’t insert gibberish in my meaningful, thoughtful, incredible blog posts. Of course, I wouldn’t.

This only happens on Google reader and does not occur on any other feed application.

I am in the process of troubleshooting the cause. But this will take awhile since I just moved to a new webhost (my last host’s last words to me were “can i delete your files now?”)

Thanks you for your patience, Google readers! (How many of you are there, by the way?) In the meantime, you can always come here to read my blog in its original intended glory. :)

Be my son’s godfather. Please!

On Sunday, I went with Chris to a church in 105 degree Fremont to his friend’s baby’s christening. Having never attended a baby’s baptism (beyond my own and my sister who is a year younger than me), I was intrigued.

It was my first time meeting Chris’ friend. A friend whose name I had heard on multiple occasions, but never met. Perhaps due her jealous husband. Her kids. Or the fact that she did not want to be seen when she was very very pregnant.

On the way in, Chris spotted a car in the parking lot. “Oh, looks like Seabring is still going strong! She had asked me to help her choose her car.”

Entering the building, a small reprieve from the burning heat in the parking lot, I saw a Flipino woman near the altar waving. Like all Chris’ friends, she was excited to see him. She motioned us to an empty seat on the bench. Chris crawled over several people. I went the long way around, wanting to appear presentable and mature. They hugged and exchanged excited chatter.

As I sat down, Chris’ friend came over with her baby. She looked at him, “Will be Michelsy’s godfather? Please! Please!”

Chris opened his mouth to say something, but nothing came out. He smiled instead.

“Please!” she said again as the pastor called attention to everyone present and headed back to her seat.

I nudged Chris, “Are you ready for this?”

Chris said, “I think so.”

Then when it came time for the godparents to anoint the child. He walked up to the front row, standing in a good formation so that he would not block the constant click of photography.

Sounds of tonight

The hammer beats in the same place
Forgetting, forgetting, over and over again.

Phone calls ignored, smiles abound
Leaves squeeze between as on a river.

Smells of fresh buds, broken torn roots
Fresh grass, unminted.

But the phone flashes lighting up the ground
It rumbles on top of the pebbles

Don’t you hear the muted voice
Trying to burst into color from the soil?

For fun and for play

“What do you like doing for fun?”

An ex-boyfriend asked me that 9 years ago and I didn’t know how to answer. I at first said “hanging out with people”. Doing what others like doing. Then he rephrased the question, “What do you like doing for fun?”

I couldn’t answer.

Granted, it was in the middle of an argument and forced self-relevations in those times were our way of winning.

But today, after my failed attempt at playing the game, I realized this…play…is what I miss. As a kid, my parents with their price consciousness rarely lavished toys on my sister and me. I never had my first Barbie until I about to leave childhood.

But still surrounded with our stuffed animals, my sister and I would create large imaginary worlds with the evil monsters our were seeking our dolls to be made into slaves. There were clouds above us where they were watching us. In our own hut (aka the finely finished redwood dining table), we would prepare in case of an attack.

Then I was forced to grow up. My imaginary worlds became the persona I would inhabit when I was addicted to chat rooms. Not to the extent of completely fabricating another identity. Rather, I would be the extroverted, sociable person online. In this world with the friends I made in Michigan, Minnesota, Australia, Singapore, New York, Canada, France…I played. Dramas and tragedy alike.

Play became social interaction—always trying to determine the right strategy. I took game design in graduate school, trying to seek how play was created, how the imagination would create something that everyone else would enjoy. During my first year in San Francisco, I was enthralled by flash mobs of pillow fights and flash freezes. For Bay to Breakers, I would plan my costume…in preparation.

Then when I saw Jane McGonigal speak at SXSW. And then my class at BATS improv. Suddenly it made sense what I was missing. The feeling of play. The ability to make sense of the urban playground. Yesterday in a rant of missing play, a friend asked, “Isn’t that what vacation is for?”

But it isn’t. I am trapped by others’ expectations. I once said that I didn’t know how to be myself—that I could only be a composite of other people. There was a test once that said that I was a performer. But it’s experience that I seek—the experience of wonder and curiosity. And the experience that I have learned something about myself that I didn’t know before.

Playing real-world tag

At my 7th birthday party, my sister slowed down from the chase, observing that I had been It for a long time. In obliviousness of her intentions, I tagged her and ran off screaming with glee. For several moments, I was free.

But in less than a minute, I was It again.

Yesterday, I participated (or attempted to—see below) in the Journey to the end of the night in Oakland (referred to me by ta-ching). A real world organized game set in Oakland of tag. Players attached green ribbons to themselves and ran around the city going to seven checkpoints in order. They had to avoid being tagged by a chaser. Once tagged, the player becomes a chaser. At the finish line, the player who got there in the least amount of time without being tagged was the winner. The chaser who tagged the most players also won.

No change in environment. No official setup. The same restaurants, the same cars, the same streets, the same homeless bums, the same buses, the same subways…were there. The players could walk, run, use public transit, but could not use a car, taxi or other self-propelled mechanisms like bikes or rockets.

At the starting line, the organizer yelled out, “Ready set…go!” Chris ran out of the amphitheater. For a few moments, I thought he left without me. Then I spotted him waiting at the top while other players streamed past him. He had cocked his head with the expression you didn’t think I would run off without you.

Heading to the first checkpoint, we ran in the middle of the street so that we wouldn’t be tagged by chasers. There were people who yelled at us thinking that we were disrupting traffic.

Chris and I set rules for what would happen if we got separated. We both wanted each other to pursue our goals, our happiness. And yet, I simply said, “If you go down, we both go down together.”

We decided that we would contact each other by phone if we got separated. If we both got tagged, we would wait for each other and go chasing together. If Chris got tagged and I didn’t, he would escort me to the next checkpoint perhaps defending me from other chasers. If I got tagged and he didn’t, I would let him run because he was more strategic and better of a sprinter.

But….this was all preparation. Because at the top of the hill, I suddenly fell so ill and couldn’t continue. Even though Chris had a choice to continue the game, he didn’t even think of continuing. As a result, we went back to the car to rest…and by the time I felt better, it was too late to continue the game.

And yet, what would have happened if we did? Would our ground rules stayed the same? Would one of us turned on each other…to betrayal? Would we have made it together? Would our own competitive spirits surprise us or destroy us? Or would at some point during the 6+ mile journey, we would tire (perhaps me) and leave the game?

And if so, would we be the same people at the beginning of the game than at the end? Or was my own sickness a mental foreboding anyway?

Part III: How to throw a miracle berry party

How do you serve the miracle berry? How do you serve it in such a way so that everyone gets the best experience?

Chris serving miracle berries

Firstly, it’s easy for people to dive in, skip the written instructions and flavor trip wildly. I mean, what else would we do once we are surrounded by sugar? Secondly, the miracle berry deserves to be treated with such magnificence and awe.

At a moment that I determined to be appropriate (when my living room/kitchen was suddenly filled with 17 people and everyone was settling down), I motioned to Chris to start the announcements. He read the following instructions (which I also had printed out) near the main table. Of course, being Chris, he couldn’t help but add a bit of flair and flourish.

How to Use the Miracle Berry

Try tasting a few things before trying the berry.
Unfortunately, this fell on deaf ears because we promptly served the berry after the announcements instead of sending people to eat foods and then seek the berry. Make sure this is a requirement. Many people did not know the difference with or without the berry.

Cleanse your palate with some water.
A few people had started drinking beer prior to the berry, which affected the overall taste.

Place the berry in your mouth. It will thaw in seconds. Remove the pulp completely from the seed with your tongue and teeth (without biting the seed). Swallowing or eating the seed will not do anything, but it certainly is not tasty. Take the seed out of the mouth.
Easier than it sounds.

Take the seed out of your mouth.
Make sure to have a wastebasket nearby for seed disposal as the seeds ended up all over the place since my trash bin was not visible.

Make sure the juices and pulp coat your whole mouth. Do not quickly swallow down the berry.
Also very easily done.

Allow a few minutes for the berry to take full effect.
The most frequently asked question.

And then try the foods!!!!

One of the most important advice to provide here is to have antacids available. There will always be the few people who overdose on acidic foods like lemons and tabasco. This is not a drug, but just like any foods, if you eat too much, you will experience some unpleasantries.

Part II: How to throw a miracle berry party

What to get for a miracle berry party?

Beyond the miracle berries or miracle tablets, the most important part is the food. What is flavor tripping if you don’t have the appropriate foods to trip on?

In an effort to reduce my cost, I asked all my guests to bring something that they wanted to try with the miracle berries. However, having thrown all these parties before, I knew not to rely on my guests to provide everything.

I shopped for all the non-perishables the prior weekend and the perishables the few days prior to the event.

List of Miracle Berry Party Supplies

The following is a list of the foods that I purchased, had on hand, prepared and brought by guests. I have bolded the ones that were a hit at the event.

  • fresh grapefruit
  • pickles
  • balsamic vinegar
  • lemon curd
  • cheap wine like two buck chuck
  • sour cream
  • fresh strawberries
  • fresh pineapple
  • apple cider vinegar
  • goat cheese
  • fresh lemons
  • fresh limes
  • old carrots
  • old cherry tomatoes
  • miracle berry cupcakes unfortunately it was a disaster. do not make. let me know if I did something wrong
  • pickles
  • kimchi
  • Guinness
  • expired tonic water I am not sure if it was the fact that was expired or that it was tonic water that made it such a hit
  • Granny Smith apples
  • kumquats
  • sour patch kids
  • raddicho still bitter
  • argula still horribly bitter
  • lime juice
  • lemon juice
  • grapefruit juice
  • Tabasco incredibly tasty!
  • salt and vinegar chips
  • Unfortunately, I forgot to bring out my tamarind pulp.

    Also, make available bread or other neutral foods to allow guests to dip into sauces or juices. I used bread and store brand nilla cookies to dip into sour cream, lemon juice, soft cheeses, etc. People often forgot to use the plates and forks I provided.

    Another tip that I seem to forget every time that I host an event…is to start party preparation early! I was barely quarter finished with the preparation by the time that people started arriving (almost an hour late) that the presentation was not ideal and potentially confusing. Prepare early!

    Part I: How to throw a miracle berry party

    How do you order? How do you get tablets? How do you get the berries? Which one?

    I spent the month leading up to my miracle berry party frantically scrambling to find the right foods to serve, planning the sequence of serving, but most importantly ordering the berries.

    Although I described a little bit of the process on my yelp review, I have some specific suggestions.

    Miracle berry and miracle tablets

    1. Miracle berry or miracle tablets?

    Your experience may vary. I tried the tablets more than a year ago and tried the berries at the party. I felt that the berries were more authentic than a machine-created tablet. The tablets seemed fake, but were very easy to obtain and cheap. The berries were difficult to order and needed great care so that they would not spoil.

    2. If ordering tablets, get them on ebay.

    The sellers on ebay are rather reputable and typically don’t even charge for shipping.

    3. If ordering the berries, call the Miracle Fruit Man early.

    Although they are running a business, it seems that they may run out of supplies any time. If you’re an anxious party host like me, call them ahead of them to confirm an advance order so headaches are prevented.

    I ordered them Tuesday night/Wednesday morning thinking it will arrive on Friday in ready for the Saturday party. The following morning, I received an email saying that they could not ship via FedEx 2-day. I demanded my shipment to be sent overnight and they did so without extra charge.

    4. If you order the berries, make sure to have a freezer handy.

    Upon receiving the berries, I immediately put it in a freezer. I did not open the box until right before the party. This reduced any possible damage to the berry.

    Next up: serving the berry! should be…what you need for the party!

    Romeo and Juliet at Cal Shakes

    When Juliet took the sleeping potion from the Friar, I whispered to Chris, “Doesn’t she know! Doesn’t she know what’s going to happen!”

    “Don’t spoil the ending!” he said and then assured me. “There are usually happy endings.”

    At the end, I almost shed a tear. But the lights came on with applause. Romeo and Juliet ran onto the stage with smiles on their faces and red splatters on their clothes.

    reluctantly giving out my blog url

    During my college years, I had linked on my aim profile. I would regularly send the link to anyone I met over email, over im. I would expect them to read it regularly. If not to hear my thoughts that I didn’t want to constantly repeat, but to feel connected.

    But today. It’s different. The only place that I publicize of.jennism is on my twitter profile. I don’t give it out unless someone asks for it. I allow people to google for it. I don’t hide it. It’s relatively easy to find. But almost none of my friends today know about it.

    Yet, why?

    A friend recently noted, “You are so different on your blog.”

    But the strange thing is…without my blog, I wouldn’t be who I am today. It is the method by which I developed my own voice and analyzed my own mistakes.

    The only reason I even have it on my twitter profile is to associate the jennisms. Yet is it my way of building a brand? I have envy of the big bloggers on the web, but over the years, I specifically made my blog less about providing information. For years, I insisted on blogging without a title. Because with a title, it was less about the writing. It was about the quick information. I deliberately hid the RSS feed, because I wanted people to stumble into serendipity. Then I refused to use tags allowing all my blog entries to flow into one.

    But my readership declined even though I believed on the surface…that it didn’t really matter.

    Today, I returned to a blogger I used to follow in the past. She had photos outlining her life. Her capture of culture in her city. Her freedom of expression, describing her thoughts and events.

    Sure, I was jealous of the number of comments. I missed the semi-popularity I had in 2002-2004. But moreso, I missed having the impact of a real voice that could be heard.