In the summer of 2007, while Justin and I were still living in Phoenix, we made our annual pilgrimage to New York City with great anticipation. Our trips always included an ambitious list of restaurants to tackle, as well as a sampling of plays and musicals. That summer, we were excited to check out an Off-Broadway production we had read about called In The Heights.
At the 37 Arts Theater in Hell’s Kitchen (since renamed the Baryshnikov Arts Center), we were seated in the second row, close enough to see the beads of sweat on the performers’ faces and watch the spit escape from their lips. It was everything we’d hoped it would be: exciting, fresh, funny, captivating. We were so enamored with the performance that we waited after the show to speak to the creator, a young upstart named Lin-Manuel Miranda. But there was no one else waiting, and we questioned ourselves. Was this not done? Were we not supposed to approach the cast? We suddenly felt starkly like out-of-towners, clueless about the lay of the land. He exited the theater, and we lost our nerve. We stood there and watched him go by.
It might not come as too much of a surprise to learn that I was kind of a weird kid. For a portion of my youth, my family would drive down to Singapore where we’d meet up with extended family members and venture on a vacation together. Riding high on the success of a couple of short cruises to Indonesia, the adults tossed around Disneyland as an ambitious follow-up. I remember thinking to myself, “But Disneyland sounds so boring, it’s just going to be a bunch of kids running around.”
We love our cat. Chloe is family in every conceivable way.
And if you sense that I’m both unapologetic and unequivocal when making these two statements, let me explicitly confirm your intuition. I am. On both accounts. Full stop.
I do not have a young child, nor do I currently have elderly parents or in-laws to care for in their latter years. (I’m incredibly grateful that they are all, by God’s grace, in good health.) As for my grandparents, they have long since departed this world.
That’s not to say I don’t know something about being a caretaker. For years, I’ve had a dependent, just not one I can claim on my taxes. I’ve cleaned up her messes. I’ve prepared her meals. Even handled her 3P’s (pee, poop and puke). I’ve brushed her hair and cut her nails and attempted, rather unsuccessfully, to bathe her. I’ve transported her to checkups. (And chewed my nails through a few medical procedures.) I’ve soothed her crying on airplanes and hushed her hissing on road trips. I’ve spent untold hours doting on her, reprimanding her, worrying about her and pulling at my ever-thinning hair in frustration.
We’ll let you in on a little secret. While theater is something we love to experience, it’s not something we love to blog about. It’s a daunting task trying to capture the essence of a play or musical. But when we experience something unique, like we did with Wakey, Wakey, we want desperately to share our experience.
In Will Eno’s new off-Broadway play, Guy gazes out at the audience and says:
There were two take-aways from my trip to Venice many years ago. 1) Learn to travel light. Though the bridges are pretty, lugging suitcases up and down them gets old fast. 2) I don’t care if Venice is sinking, it can take me with it. The city that brought us tiramisu, Titian and Vivaldi was as magical as promised. Paris may hold the title City of Love, but I’d be strapped to conjure up a city more romantic than Venice. Maybe the fact that I’m a fan of a little-known rom-com called Only You starring Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr. has a little to do with it. (Fair Venice is one of its co-stars.)
I used to live in Cleveland and I used to smoke. Having a cigarette in downtown Cleveland in January is what one might call “peak winter”. It’s what separates the smokers from the puffers, we used to joke. (Not something we smokers should’ve been so proud of, I’ll admit.) New York City winters are mostly mild by comparison, which is probably the only reason why I would turn to Justin and say, “Let’s go to the Ice Festival! That sounds like fun!”
The Ice Festival is an annual event organized by the Central Park Conservancy. At the Naumburg Bandshell, park visitors are treated to a live, on-site carving by Okamoto Studio, a custom ice studio based out of Long Island. The studio, a design collective originally founded by father-son team Takeo and Shintaro Okamoto, is known for working its magic with crystal clear ice. Besides performing at previous festivals, Okamoto Studio has also lent its talents to Barney’s holiday windows and numerous private events.
Long ago (before the invention of the wheel, it sometimes feels like!), we were just a young couple in love. And when we first started dating, during that universal period in a relationship when everything is about connection and shared interest, we discovered with a great amount of satisfaction that we both had a mutual passion for film, from foreign gems to esoteric indies to cult comedies. We re-watched some of our favorites films together. There was Cinema Paradiso, The Sweet Hereafter, The Shipping News, Young Frankenstein, Dr. Strangelove, and, of course, The Princess Bride. The Princess Bride, in particular, became a rich source of our inside jokes.
Often, in those early days, I would muster my best (awful) impression of Fezzik (Andre the Giant, RIP) and drop this line at an absurdly incongruous moment:
“Why do you wear a mask? Were you burned by acid, or something like that?”
It never failed to crack us both up. Lynn’s favorite, one she still occasionally employs to this very day, was Inigo’s (Mandy Patinkin’s) response to Vizzini’s (Wallace Shawn’s) repeated use of the word “Inconceivable!”:
“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
And we’re not alone in our devotion to this film or our continued admiration for the brilliant dialogue and its flawless delivery by its brilliant actors. A quick Google search will produce endless memes appropriating its lines. I found this posted on a co-worker’s cubicle:
Justin recently replaced his umbrella and when it arrived from Amazon, he opened it up in our apartment to make sure it was what he was expecting.
“Don’t you know that’s bad luck?,” I asked.
“Is it?,” he replied, completely unfazed. #husbandsowhite
We Asians are a superstitious bunch. The number four is bad luck! You can’t buy someone a clock, it’s bad luck! Don’t clip your nails at night, it’s bad luck! I’m Malaysian, and I’m biracial. My father is of Chinese descent, while my mother is native Malay. So we grew up celebrating the Chinese New Year, and my late grandmother made sure we were all well-versed on the many traditions meant to ward off bad luck and bring good fortune as we ushered in a new year.
If you were introduced to twenty people but you could only identify them using their social security numbers, how many would you be able to pick out of a crowd the next day? If you’re like me, probably zero. That’s kind of what it’s like to have prosopagnosia, or face blindness. Facial features become a mess of details that you just can’t remember. That’s pretty fascinating, right? And you know what’s even more fascinating? Chuck Close, the renowned portrait artist, suffers from it.
Even without the prosopagnosia, Close’s path as an artist has not been an easy one. He battled dyslexia and neuromuscular weakness as a child, then suffered a spinal artery collapse at 48 that left him paralyzed from the neck down. But consistent resistance builds the right kind of muscles — perhaps the only positive outcome of such a hard life — so rehabilitation and sheer will helped him regain enough movement in his arms to allow him to make art again. Even if he still has to use both hands to hold a brush.