New Year’s Message 2014

Happy New Year! After entirely being negligent in posting here, thanks for keeping up with SSW’s contributions. As usual, I’ll provide some stats, a resolution and my usual short piece of creative writing.

Customary Annual Statistics

  • Email: 4.82 GB (up 41.76%) (Inbox 19.32 GB)
  • Miles in a Zipcar: 1,124 (down 13.3%)
  • Miles in a rental car: 275  (up 10 %)
  • Mles on a plane: 9,131 (down 22.6%)
  • Places this year: Colchester/Uncasville (Mohegan Sun), CT (Vicki & Dan) ; Trinidad, WI (Chen/Chin clan); Miami, FL (connection) ; Kansas City, MI & KS (NAPABA folks, Roxanne & John & family); Topeka, KS (Sherry and Rich); Dallas, TX (connection); Newark, NJ (APALSA folks); Edison, NJ (Irene & Jerson). Very sorry to not make it to Minneapolis, MN (James & Trisha) because of new baby.



Crazy internet appearances:

  1. Chorus member, CDZA’s “Opus No. 20: Epic Key Changes” (I’m the Jedi in the back to the right of the albino gorilla suit guy)
  2. NPR Weekend Edition playing the Governor of California and some Chinese immigrants, all from the late 1800’s in a historical trial reenactment of “22 Lewd Chinese Women” led by the Hon. Denny Chin.
  3. Short film, “Border Crossing”, Honorable Mention, 2013 72 Hour Film Shootout Competition 2013. What if you had a work romance in an office building that shared a border between New York City and Bangkok?

New family member: A., 6 lbs., 8 oz, 17 ins. long at birth

New apartment: After 14 years, we’ve moved back to the neighborhood of my youth, Kensington, Brooklyn, to have room for our new addition. We still have stuff in boxes, but love the opportunity to have people over.


My three year resolution was to learn Chinese, which in year 2 I had specified Cantonese. I have to say it is not an unqualified success. I am not on my way to being fluent in any particular dialect of Chinese conversation; it will take many more years and much more commitment than I was able to muster this year.The free language classes held by at the Chinatown Y are an incredible value if you are able to put in the time and commitment. I did finally receive a foundation where I can start to build on grammar and core vocabulary.  I was able help to translate some English dialogue in the historical reenactment from #2 above into Cantonese, which was then converted to Mandarin. I also picked up little bits of Vietnamese from the class that was held in the next period after the Cantonese class, which helped me to make a few more connections to my family’s history. I’m eternally grateful that I have something I can can share with my new daughter, who probably already knows more Cantonese from my mother-in-law who has moved in to take care of Abby during the day. I’m picking up more things organically each day as she interacts with A., and I get to be like a child with her.

This year’s resolution is to get more involved in my new old neighborhood, Kensington, Brooklyn. Except for at birth for two days in a Manhattan hospital, I’ve grown up in Brooklyn, and I’ve either lived or visited my parents in this neighborhood, so when we moved back this May after 14 years downtown, it was at once very familiar and very weird, as many things have changed in the ensuing years. I haven’t figured out what that means – it may just mean organizing a food crawl, but anything within 15 minutes walk or bus ride is fair game. I’ll let you know over the course of the year on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #resolution2014.


One of my favorite father-daughter play activities is A. trying to crawl on the mat in the living room. She hasn’t quite figured out how, but she’s trying. As for now, it invariably ends in a dramatic slow-motion faceplant, followed by crying. I’m sure she will figure it out soon. The one thing that soothes her is rolling her over on her back on the mat and lying beside her. Because of this, I spend a lot of time staring at the ceiling.

Actual photo of my living room ceiling.

Actual photo of my living room ceiling.

Now this ceiling is very beige and it is very plain. We’re on the top floor in our new circa 1950 Mad Men-esque apartment complex, so it is the only thing between us and the black-top roof. From a distance, the ceiling is very regular, but if you look closely you can see the smallest imperfections and irregularities in the plaster.

Ceilings have become associated with limitations and obstacles, but they are only insidious  when they are invisible.  We don’t spend the time to look up – everyone likes to keep their head down to the grindstone of everyday life. Only when we are somewhere different that we take in the full measure of the space. We need ceilings to literally keep us warm and dry as we are starting out, and figuratively as a milepost as we reach for the stars. If we can see it, we can one day surpass it.

So as I’m lying down and looking at the ceiling on a freezing New Year’s Day, I am thankful that it is there, but also look to go beyond it, for myself or for the next generation.

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