May

#122 Eugene Half Marathon

01 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.

–Steve Prefontaine

Marathons have long been overused as a metaphor of how to respond to different challenges in life. That metaphor has given us played out cliches like “it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.” In my case, though, it was neither a sprint nor a marathon. It was a half-marathon.

After actually running, though, I totally get why people use those cliches. Running long distances and life have a lot of parallels. Like how port-a-potties are the worst and should be avoided and are usually not worth it.

#123 Recovery Day

02 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Spent most of today with my feet up, for obvious reasons.

Actually, my legs don’t feel all that sore from yesterday’s race, which is good. I do, however, feel like napping pretty much around the clock.

I’ll probably dedicate a good chunk of my birthday this week to treating myself to a nap.

#124 Good Evening Beignet

03 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

When you’re home alone with her, this dog is the sweetest. She usually just naps on the ground and wants to hang out near you.

Then, as soon as the second person comes home, her inner crazy comes out and she can’t help but try and jump and chew to her hearts desire.

Deanna’s been getting home later than me lately, so she doesn’t know what she’s missing.

#125 Gonna Run Again

04 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Here we go again.

I went on a two mile run today, which is extremely light compared to all the training I’ve done lately, but it was one of the harder runs I’ve gone on in a while. Mostly because this is my first time running since the half, and I just needed to get rid of that lactic acid somewhere.

But get this– I’m running. Still. Even though there’s no more half-marathon to train for. I figure I’m probably in better shape than I’ve been in for a long, long time. I might as well keep it. And I’m totally open to another race sometime. We’ll see when.

#126 Twentysix

05 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Hey you guys! Thank you.

Today has been really special- thank you so much for the messages and comments, the thoughtful texts and phone calls, and the contributions to my LiNK fundraising campaign. I really appreciate these things, so really, thanks.

I loved all the warm wishes today. I’m super thankful for the life I get to live and that you all are a part of it.

25 brought marriage, a puppy, and a half marathon into my life. So far, 26 has come with all you can eat sushi. I’d say we’re off to a good start.

#127 Dog Parks

06 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Based on my first 36 hours, I’d say 26 is the new 14 with the crazy amounts of sleep my body is demanding me to take. A 2 PM siesta ended up being one of my birthday highlights.

When we plan our activities months out, Deanna and I try to alternate between adventurous weekends and weekends of rest. In between last weekend’s half marathon and next weekend’s Mt. Hood expedition, this is a true weekend off.

So far we’ve spent a sunny afternoon at the dog park and I messed up a batch of macarons. Cheers to the laid back weekends.

#128 Macaróns

07 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Took on the ambitious weekend project of trying to make macarons. These guys were a challenge! I don’t know what I was thinking when I scheduled them so early on in the year for my cooking challenge. They’re more like a boss level.

The key ingredient in macarons is basically persistence. My first attempt yielded some cookies that were literally inedible. That was a bummer since I’d been looking for a chance to make them all week and some almond flour and well aged egg whites had to go to waste. But tonight I gave it a second shot.

Dulce de leche and chocolate macarons were produced and the dulce de leche ones were far superior. I was pretty pleased with the airy shell of a cookie that resulted.

Glad I didn’t give up after that initial failure. I now can understand why these often cost over a dollar for one tiny piece. They are labor intensive. But I put in that labor and have approximately $50 worth of macarons to feast on.

#129 Crime Thrillers

08 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

We have a TON of Black Butte Porter leftover after last weekend’s carload. Not that that’s a problem or anything. I really needed this weekend to be a restful one, and that’s exactly what I got. An evening of kicking back to Southeast Asian crime thrillers.

I’m not saying that in another life I would be a Metro Manila gang boss, or anything like that, but have you ever wondered how many random circumstances in yours or your family’s history would need to be changed in order for you to be living a totally different sort of existence? There’s the six-degrees-to-Kevin-Bacon game that reveals how close we are to knowing any given person. I wonder if there’s some sort of game to play that gives us any idea of how close we actually are to being totally different people.

When my family started to leave the Philippines in batches decades ago, the USA was the obvious destination. But if we were all born fifty years later, would that have sent me to Saudi Arabia or Dubai? What if that move never even happened? What if my mom decided to stay in Philadelphia instead of moving to California? What if she went back to Illinois?. I really like the life I have right now, though, so I’m fine with not knowing those answers. I’m content to have these crime thrillers to be the extent of my experience in Southeast Asian cartels.

#130 A Birthday Package

09 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I couldn’t check my mail over the weekend because our apartment office was closed, so I finally got to open my birthday package from my in-laws tonight. Loved it! Especially the socks Deanna’s mom knit me. I think Beignet was jealous.

If I could talk to myself a year ago, I’d let me know that there’s a lot to look forward to over the next 365 days. Don’t rush through them too fast. Most of them are good days. Being married is amazing, and even better than I expected.

Every year around my birthday, I write a blog post listing some of the biggest things I learned over the past year. I’ve done this for five years straight now, and I’ve loved keeping track of the biggest ideas that seem to follow me around for an extended moment in my life. Things like never taking normal for granted. Appreciating the passing of time. Asking yourself how you can help people. 25 has probably taught me more than any other age so far.

#131 Solo Movie Outing

10 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

One of the odd jobs I worked for a really short while was at a movie theatre. I loved the old retired guys who would come in for Tuesday morning matinees, treating themselves to a flick and no self consciousness.

I tried to celebrate getting older last week by doing the same thing, and treating myself to go see Civil War. Plus, I don’t have any superhero lovin’ friends in town to my knowledge, so it was either go alone or wait for the DVD and try to avoid spoilers for months.

I went in totally ready to be on Team Cap. I thought he was kind of a wild card in that movie though, so you are all welcome to join me over on Team T’Challa. Wakanda forever.

#132 Easy Evening

11 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Never take “normal” for granted. You never know when an accident or illness can land someone in the hospital, when you could lose a car or a house or an appendage, when you could suddenly suffer a financial crisis. Heck, sometimes it just takes a really stuffy nose to make you truly miss the times when your nose wasn’t stuffy that you took for granted.

I’m hoping to be a better connoisseur of normal. It clashes with my more adventurous sides, but I’ve learned that these simple, seemingly boring days are also brilliant samples of a life that merits some appreciation. In any given moment that can be overlooked, there are a billion things to not be taken for granted.

#133 Cilantro Pistachio Carrot Top Puree

12 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I came across the idea for a pistachio cilantro carrot top puree and had to try it out.

The flavors of these three things are quite distinct, and each is a quirky ingredient in its own right. Cilantro is the mystery herb, intolerable to a random group of people who lost a certain genetic lottery. Pistachios are also in their own little world as the nut that looks constantly underripe. Then there’s carrot top, which is an edible thing, but barely.

I ended up using the puree on a dish of roast carrots, potatoes, and ham steak and it added a lot of lightness to an otherwise heavy meal.

#134 Ben’s First Burgerville

13 May 2016 // Albany, Oregon

Good friends paying you a visit in Oregon and going on hikes and adventures makes for a good weekend.

Good friends don’t mind having to sit through a random presentation you have to give right after picking them up from the airport.

I like to thank my good friends by introducing them to Burgerville.

#135 Mt. Hood

14 May 2016 // Mt. Hood, Oregon

Something about mountains. I have bucket list level hopes to do one of the big ones someday, Kilimanjaro, Fuji, etc. Of course I don’t have the funds or physique for that just yet.

Since the half marathon wasn’t too long ago, I decided to not wait too long and try and climb Mt. Hood while still in decent shape. Plus May is supposed to be the best time.

Didn’t summit, but made it far enough to feel good given my lack of much mountaineering experience.

#136 Portland Timbers vs. New York FC

15 May 2016 // Portland, Oregon

We got to witness at least one goal on our side of things, which meant the ceremonial tree slicing. I also had a chance to see some of my favorite players in live action, namely the Argentine, Diego Valeri. And since food is a pretty big deal to me no matter where I end up going, it’s worth noting that the stadium fare included Tillamook grilled cheese sandwiches, buffalo wing wraps, and some Argentine empanadas (that were double the size of any you’d find in Argentina and about ten times the price.)

The fan bases may be smaller than many other sports, but they make up for it with extremely colorful fan cultures. Plus it’s a great way to get into the rest of the sport with many big names taking up more and more MLS stints.

It always feels good to be a part of a collective something, and a fan group is no exception.

Baseball, football, and basketball are all alive and well in the U.S., but for those of us who long to be a part of its golden era, it seems that it’s too late. The golden era of soccer is approaching, however, and it’ll be a fun one to participate in.

#137 After One Adventure

16 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I’m an adventure lover, that part of my personality tends to be straightforward.

After a good weekend spent mountain climbing or city exploring, though, I find myself easily content wherever I am. If these things are meant to be refreshing, they definitely have that effect on me.

#138 Chicken Adobo

17 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

This is kind of surprising, but this is the first time I’ve ever tried my hand at chicken adobo, and… I love cooking this stuff! I totally get why this is the one thing my mom will make again and again even though overall she’s never been too fond of cooking.

It’s a pretty easy recipe, but one that can get even better the more and more you get used to it, and it’s also a crowd pleaser. Plus you can swap out different ingredients each time to experiment with new things.

For my first attempt, I consulted two sources. My mom, obvi. And my Auntie Ella too. They both have different styles, but I took the gist of what they told me to do and kind of merged their two methods into one.

#139 Eat My Globe

18 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

“Ten of us sat around the table and ate, drank, and talked for over five hours, until the small hours of the early morning. We talked mainly about food and how things should be done properly, and how so many young people now took shortcuts. Everyone shook their heads mournfully. I felt totally at home.”

–Simon Majumdar

I just finished this book, and I read it fairly slowly considering I couldn’t read such a food centric book on an empty stomach.

This book reads like a food and travel show plays out, transcribed right into a paperback. Simon’s demanding taste buds get irritating at some points, but his British sense of humor grows on you after a while. It’s a food memoir. It’s a travel memoir. I’m a pretty easy audience when those two things come together.

#140 Roasted Brussel Sprouts

19 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Growing up, brussel sprouts were always used as a go-to example of a food most kids thought were nasty. Brussel sprouts and squid. I actually liked squid as a kid, but I understood why people disliked brussel sprouts. I wasn’t repulsed by them, but I also wasn’t terribly fond of the sometimes-metallic taste.

Turns out, much like cilantro, there’s a genetic reason why some people can’t stomach brussel sprouts. TAS2R38, if you happen to care. And I figured making an unpopular veggie into a good side dish might be a worthwhile challenge.

My attempt included crushed walnuts, bacon bits, and olive oil, three things that can improve many a dish. And it turned out good enough for Thursday’s dinner with some chicken quarters.

#141 Timbers Spirit

20 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Much love for the birthday present Deanna got for me, a Timbers jersey. I’ve wanted one for a while but they don’t come cheap.

If they were cheaper, I’d probably try and get away with having a wardrobe consist almost entirely of soccer jerseys. Beyond fandom, they’re the most comfortable thing to wear.

#142 Pancakes & Blackberry Syrup

21 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Saturday morning. A full day ahead and pretty much no plans at all. What’s the best companion for a day like that? Pancakes. A full, fat stack of them.

Deanna’s often the one to get the pancakes going around home but I decided to try mixing things up by trying out a new recipe. Buttermilk. And a pairing of blackberry syrup to go with it, since we try to be good Northwesterners.

Oh, and my favorite thing to do with pancake batter is to sprinkle it on the griddle to make really tiny pancakes. They’re called niblets and they’re awesome. One day I’ll figure out how to package a bunch of these in plastic and market them as wonderful snacks, cause that’s what they are.

#143 Market Weekend

22 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

This past weekend was one where we intentionally tried to not do too much, since it fell in between two travel weekends. We ended up not doing too much and getting plenty of rest, but also, we had plenty of fun, including two foreign film discoveries on Netflix we really liked.

Le Chef is a simple romantic comedy, but with French chefs so we know it’s good. I overlooked it for so long by mistaking it for a French baking competition I had already seen.

Trash is a Brazilian film featuring a group of kids who live on a landfill and get by via scavenging. They find a wallet with random contents– a lotto ticket, a key, a bookmark, which ends up turning into a neat little puzzle film in which they uncover some big time political corruption.

And as if that wasn’t good enough, we also spent our weekend just wandering around the 5th Street Market and picked up a couple macarons. I had a root beer float macaron that was spot on. How on earth do they do that?

#144 Hanging Mint

23 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

“I guess part of growing up is learning how to allow the lost things of the past to make new roots and grow, to become new and greater things by digging down into memory and image and rise up again in a new form.”

–Tyson Motsenbocker

This quote seemed relevant since at the end of the week I’ll be in San Diego, the city where I grew up.

Increasingly, roots are asserting themselves as what I find really valuable. Having a sense of origin and allowing that to feed you. This makes sense to me in both a mega-cosmic spiritual sort of way and as a reference to childhoods and past homes and longtime friendships.

With my roots being spread quite far in terms of geography, it takes a lot of extra effort to give them their deserved attention. It’s always worth it, though.

And speaking of roots, my mint seems to be doing the best out of anything I planted. If I can measure success by mojito potential, things should be great in the late summer.

#145 Milanesa & Chimichurri

24 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

It’s 2011. I’d been in Buenos Aires just long enough to take a nap at the hostel before wandering the streets. IT hasn’t sunk in yet that this is where I’ll be spending the next five months of my life. While exploring, I get hungry and find a café that looks like it might be good.

I know that in Argentina, the steak is supposed to be really good. There are so many options on the menu, though. Lomo, Bife. When the waitress comes around, I point at one. Milanesa.

What came out was a bit of a surprise. A very flat piece of beef that was breaded. But from that day forward, I knew what a milanesa was. And I had it again and again over the next five months. Usually with fries. Sometimes in a sandwich. Or with a squirt of lemon. Or with ham and cheese on top.

Flip ahead to 2016 and I finally tried to recreate my first meal in Argentina, a task I was already at a disadvantage at because of the lack of quality beef within the U.S. But, I took on the task anyways and I kind of like what happened as a result.

#146 Book Cleanse

25 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I think a lot of you are probably aware that my love of books goes pretty deep. From the days of me taking total advantage of Borders going out of business to scavenging thrift shops for travel guides to use as wedding props, I’ve accumulated quite the library over the years. Also, when Deanna and I got married, we wound up with a lot of second copies of the same title. I guess that’s a good sign we had a few things in common.

It’s probably a pretty good sign of personal progress and decluttering that I’m ready to drastically trim down my bookshelves to make room for new reads and to make sure everything can comfortably fit on there. Plus, a lot of the books I’ve trimmed down are either second copies or ones I’m unlikely to read again with all the things I have yet to read that I still hope to get to.

With all that said, I’m going to Powells on Monday with several stacks of books I’m looking to resell, but I thought I would check with my friends to see if there are any titles that interest you… there are some weird ones I’m getting rid of, as well as some all-time faves, but I won’t judge either way! I only ask that you Venmo me a little for shipping if you live far from me.

Vonnegut, Laura Hillenbrand, Jonathan Safran Foer, C.S. Lewis, Pico Iyer, Barbara Kingsolver await!

#147 Barry’s

26 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Eugene just lost one of its better coffee shops.

I went in on Friday for one last donut muffin, a latte, and an extra splurge of lox pie.

When legalized marijuana was up for a vote about a year ago, arguments in favor of lower incarceration rates and more efficient criminal justice were convincing enough to get it passed. The opposing side brought up gateway drug and slippery slope arguments, and so on, to no avail. Their arguments would have been a lot stronger if they brought up the dystopian future in which Barry’s loses its lease to a Cannabis Supply Shop.

#148 SeaTac Layover

27 May 2016 // SeaTac, Washington

Poking around the Sub-Pop store and trying to grab some fish and chips are the two most redeeming things about having a layover in Seattle.

I try to wear Timbers gear whenever I fly Alaska. Even when their flight routes take me through rival territory. Sometimes I wonder if people see me in my jersey, perhaps purchasing something with my Alaska mileage card thinking my customer loyalty game is ridiculous. But I’ve been on flights where wearing Timbers gear has resulted in perks like early boarding, so I can handle the judgement.

No dice this flight, but I did get comped some Portland Brewing Pale Ale, so no complaints.

#149 City of SD

28 May 2016 // San Diego, California

“I’m thanking God for being alive. And for our victory.”

–Trash (2014) 

Is this city our next home? Maybe. Maybe.

One of the big things that’s been on my mind lately is the fact that I’ll most likely be moving sometime within six to nine months. I’ll be finishing grad school and I’d like a job in a city that puts my family and friends in much closer access. San Diego perhaps? I definitely have a lot of family and friends there. Portland? It’s a possibility. We’ve also been throwing around the names of Sacramento and Ventura, and others may emerge.

Sometimes I wish I knew the answer already so I could start imagining the future, but perhaps that’s one of the big reasons why it’s a good thing I don’t know. In the end, I’ll have to see what my job hunt looks like after the summer and see what the options are then. So much of this move is out of my control. Then again, most of life is and I’m just pretty good at acting like it’s not.

One way or another, we end up where we need to be. It’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from the crazy travels and outdoor things I enjoy doing, and part of the reason I insist on adventure. It’s seeing how you managed to end up where you need to be and being astounded by the process.

I’ll find out how this goes eventually. In the meantime, I thank God I’m alive and for every little victory.

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