Monday, June 29, 2009

Free (or Cheap) Summer 2009 Boston Events

Feel free to add the events to your own calendar!
Let me know if you know of more awesome free or cheap events around the city!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Makati vs. Makatí

kati: Word: kati
English Definition: 1) lowtide (noun) 2) itchy, scratchy -- MAKATI (adj)
Source: http://www.seasite.niu.edu/Tagalog/
Tagalog: kati English: lowtide, itchy, scratchy

When I was younger, my mom told me that I was always moving around. "If you're not moving, you're talking. If you're not talking, you're moving," she'd say. "Makatí yung paa!" Literally, "Your feet are itchy."

Though I've definitely calmed down from that fidgety version of me, I still have "itchy feet."

Now, I know that probably sounds gross...like I've got some strange fungus growing on my feet...but I promise you that I don't have any fungi on my toesies.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The problem with Bunker Hill Day

Firstly, it's only celebrated in Suffolk County...but not really, because there's tons of places that are open.

Secondly, a holday smack dab in the middle of the week like this, and near the end of the school year...it's just asking for trouble.

Thirdly, days like this leave me restless and needing to do things.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Pink Martini at the Boston Opera House

Pink Martini at the Boston Opera House was amazing!!!

Last year, when Bill and I saw them, they didn't have an opening band, and played for about 2 hours! This year, they had this cute little band called Sneaking Out that featured an electric ukulele, an acoustic electric bass, and an amazing percussionist sporting a mohawk, a tie-dye shirt, and a pink tu tu.

Thomas Lauderdale and China Forbes noted all these different movie references that correspond with some of Pink Martini's songs. So, Bill and I have some movies to check out :)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Sorry, but I really don't like dentists....

****UPDATE June 12, 7:10pm****

So, let me rethink the title a bit....it's not the actual people behind the dentist....those people I really can be cool with....not that attractiveness has anything to do with it like at the Brookline Gentle Dental.....

I just don't like how sadistic dentists are.....admit it, you guys are sadists....there's nothing necessarily wrong with it...except that we're not necessarily consenting to it, other than we have absolutely no choice - we suffer either way.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

How Much I (and the boyfriend!) Love Sinigang

Being Filipino in Boston is not easy.

Being the only person in my family in New England is even harder.

Though more recently the boyfriend and I became part of the Boston Filipino-American Bookclub, one of the major ways I've held on to my culture and not get super homesick is through the food. Even the book club has an emphasis on the food - each person brings a dish to share. The Filipino community in Boston is much smaller than that of Los Angeles or even New York. Most of the community is in the outskirts of Boston, areas that aren't as T-accessible necessarily.

But, I digress...let's talk about sinigang.
video
*My Lola (grandmother) singing about sinigang. Thanks Sinta!*

Mmmmmmmmmmmm......sinigang....
Specifically, singang na baboy (pork sinigang)...
There's actually several types of sinigang:
  • baboy (pork)
  • bangus (milkfish)
  • baka (beef)
  • hipon (shrimp)
  • manok (chicken)
But really...I'll stick with the baboy, thanks :)

Sinigang is basically a sour soupy meal with a sampalok (tamarind) base. You can also use a gabi (guava) base, but it's not as sour. Sour tamarind-based sinigang is hard to beat though, and it's clearly my personal favorite.

It's definitely a strange meal if you're not used to the Southeast Asian-type flavors. Honestly, I was really worried that the boyfriend (who is of German-Irish decent, raised in Massachusetts, and lived in Japan for 6 years) was not going to like it much. My ex (who is of African-American decent, and life-long lover of Japanese/Asian things) definitely did not like it, though I think he'd eat it if he had to - if it was the only thing on the menu. But, that's why he's my ex, now isn't it?

When I first told the boyfriend about it, he said, "What's silly-ging-gong?"
After I explained the proper pronunciation and the basics of the meal, he sounded more interested but insisted on calling it silly-ging-gong. As I started preparing it, the smells of the meal got him more and more excited about eating it. When he found out that one of his favorite root vegetables,
labanos (daikon radish) is part of the dish, he was even more excited!

When he finally sat down and had a heaping bowl of the stuff (paired with brown rice), I'm pretty sure he fell in love with it. Now, I am just the girl who lives in the same apartment that cooks silly-ging-gong for him.

So, here are my personal tips and tricks to making sinigang - especially if you live in Boston.
Ingredient List and Where You Can Buy Them:

  • 1.5-2 lbs Country-style pork ribs - You can get these at any regular (big-chain) supermarket. I go to Shaw's/Star Market and Stop & Shop. I usually ask the butcher to cut them into smaller pieces. Sometimes they come without the bone, but I recommend getting it with bone.
  • 1 Packet of Tamarind Seasoning Mix/Sinigang na Sampalok Mix - These awesome little pre-packaged mixes (either Mama Sita's or Knorr brands) can be found at larger Asian markets. I will suggest that you don't look at the Ingredient list on the back, since there are some not so fun looking preservatives. But I've been eating this for years, and I'm still here! In Boston, there's Super 88, but there's a little gem in Chinatown called See Sun Market. In the very back is a section filled with Filipino goodness. If you're lucky enough to be near or able to easily get near Quincy, the Sure Pinoy Market is like heaven...AND it's right next door to the only Filipino restaurant in town! So maybe you don't need to make this recipe at all :) I'm so jealous of you now.....
  • AND/OR Tamarind itself! - I've seen a box of tamarind at Super 88.
  • 1 large Onion - I like getting yellow onions, but the only one I wouldn't personally use are red onions.
  • 2 medium Tomatoes - Any tomato that isn't cherry or grape will do.
  • Bag of Baby Spinach - If you prefer to get fresh spinach, go for it! I only choose this for the easy factor. You can probably put a whole lot of spinach in this recipe since the leaves shrink when they're cooked.
  • 1 large Daikon Radish - Once in a while, they'll have these at Super 88. But when they're out of season, the only place I can seem to find them is Whole Foods.
    Extras:
  • 5 or 6 pieces of Okra - I cut the ends off, and slice these into pieces. I've only bought them at Whole Foods, but I'm sure it's the same situation with Super 88 (not always available).
  • Baby Bok Choy - Most Asian markets will have this, as well as Whole Foods.
Did you enjoy your whirlwind trip getting all the ingredients?
Now, let's get cooking:

1. Boil pork ribs in 1/2 full 8 quart pot of water.

2. Take out the impurities (they'll look foamy) before it fully boils.

3. When boiling, add 2 medium tomatoes (diced) and 1 small onion (diced). Let it boil until meat is cooked. (When boiling, put heat at medium high).
4. When meat is cooked, add Tamarind base, but don't stir yet!
5. When boiling, stir and add daikon radish (cut into disks), and any other veggies (I recommend okra).
6. When daikon radishes are soft, put in the spinach or other leafy green vegetables go last.

Now, if you're willing to go the extra tamarind route, here's how you do it:
After putting the tomatoes and onions in, and letting it cook for a couple more minutes, take some of the broth and place in a regular bowl. Take one of the tamarind pieces (with the shell and all!) and place into a sieve. Dip the sieve into the bowl of broth, and crush the tamarind with a spoon. You can do this with at least 3 or 4 of the tamarind pieces. When done, put that broth back into the pot! This will produce a more "tamarindy" taste.

*Don't mind the mess around the delicious meal :) *
Here's the nutrition information provided by livestrong.com:

Nutrition Facts

Recipe Serves 4 people
Amount per Serving
  • Calories 239 Calories from Fat 61
% Daily Value *
  • Total Fat 7.07g 11%
  • Saturated Fat 2.52g 13%
  • Monounsaturated Fat 0.01g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat 0.01g
  • Cholesterol 65mg 22%
  • Sodium 843.03mg 35%
  • Potassium 115.25mg 3%
  • Total Carbohydrate 18.52g 6%
  • Dietary Fiber 5.84g 23%
  • Sugars 3.31g
  • Protein 24.71g 49%
  • Vitamin C 2.95
  • Calcium 8.75
  • Iron 4.18
  • Vitamin E 0.01
  • Vitamin K 0.15
  • Thiamin (B1) 0.02
  • Riboflavin (B2) 0.01
  • Niacin (B3) 0.08
  • Vitamin B6 0.05
  • Phosphorus 10.75
  • Magnesium 8
  • Panthothenic Acid 0.05
  • Zinc 0.07
  • Manganese 0.05
Est. Percent of Calories from:
Fat 26.6% Carbs 31.0% Protein 41.4%

So, the lesson of the story is this, if the person you love loves sinigang, you've got a good thing going.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Like a punch in the face...

**UPDATE June 6, 2009**

Went to the cute dentist, where there were a lot of young, skinny girls in the office. At first, I thought, "Wow...the Brookline (the richer neighborhood) Gentle Dental is really different from the Brighton (defnitely not rich..but not poor either) office." As I was waiting for the Doc to step into my office, and my teeth started throbbing more from having x-rays done, I couldn't help but notice all the tall, skinny girls that seemed to be having a grand ol' time...Then, the Dr. stepped into my room. "Ooohhhhhh....that's what's up," I thought. I had to laugh about it...but anyways, back to the agonizing pain.

I had already started crying when Gretchen, the Peer Mediator at BHS, asked me how I was feeling. I was tearful in the office...but I tried to stay positive, if only for my sanity.


I explained to the cute Dr. what the situation was. He tested several things. And then there was the diagnosis. It's quite possible that the back top right tooth (Number 2, I believe he called it), which had a filling, was the one causing the problems. It seems like one of the nerves are dying, and when that happens, a Root Canal needs to happen. So, I made an appointment with a specialist in the area for Friday, June 12th (which, unfortunately, is also the same day as the Pink Martini concert!).

X-ray
Meanwhile, I've got a prescription for 800mg's of Ibuprofin and Hydrocodone - that's right, folks! Vicodin! It helped me sleep last night, and the 800mg's of Ibuprofin are helping during the day.

I've seen how miserable a root canal can make someone. I'm really nervous that this leotarded tooth will prevent me from doing all the things I planned to do that weekend.

But, I hope they give me more drugs after the procedure.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Unusual Ouchies - Head Edition

**UPDATE June 5, 2009** I woke up at 5 this morning in so much pain! Excruciating :( Somehow I made it to work, but I made an appointment with a dentist for 1:30pm today. I'm hoping that the Excedrin will last me til then.

****************************

In September 2008, the boyfriend noticed that I had a small bald spot near the top of my forehead. I was quite alarmed about it. I wasn't sure if it was just that I was wrapping my wet hair in my towel too tightly or something more serious.
I immediately went online and started researching "female bald spots." Though the searches would mainly return Rogaine for Women ads, several others clued me in to alopecia.

Basically, alopecia is hair loss in a spot on the body. At first, I tried not to worry too much about it, but I felt myself becoming more and more self-conscious. Then one day at work, I noticed another smaller bald spot near the top back of my head. I was hoping it was just a larger hair whorl, but after taking a picture with my cell phone, it seemed like a bigger problem.
I've always had strange scalp issues. I already had a pre-existing bald spot on my head (though I couldn't tell you where it is now) from receiving stitches after jumping into a glass table (it's a funny story, I promise). When I moved to Los Angeles from the Philippines, my scalp would have this occasional itch - in humid weather, when it was wet, or even just sitting here. I don't have serious dandruff, though there is some dryness. But I have been mistaken for having lice. One time in college, this girl insisted on checking me for lice in our co-ed bathrooms, regardless of how many times I explained that my scalp was just itchy sometimes (I'm sure she was projecting since she had just cleared her scabies).

But this baldness was on a whole new level. First, I talked with the boyfriend and he consulted some of his Traditional Chinese Medicine books. But I also asked my boss and supervisor because of her holistic medicine practices. They both mentioned not putting too much strain on my hair, putting it in tight ponytails or buns. But it also seemed like it could be stress related. Both of them also thought that it might be related to some intense and recent changes in my life. Quite possible - becoming half the staff of a non-profit org, getting the HPV vaccine, stress at home. It all was adding up.


Within a couple of months, I had an appointment with a dermatologist (their schedules book really quickly! So, if you need a dermatologist appointment, do it sooner than later!). He concluded that it was alopecia, but that there wasn't any specific triggers for it. Being an autoimmune skin disease, it could be stress related, change in horomones, both, or neither. For most cases, hair will just grow back on its own, but there were treatments for it as well. His treatment suggestion was to get a shot of steroids into the bald spots or for me to get a steroid cream. I opted for the cream.


At the same time, I went to a local Dan Dan Herbal, in Allston, MA. After taking my pulse and showing the guy my bald spots, he mentioned that it was related to not having good blood flow to my head/upper body. That was quite interesting actually, considering that my body was working overtime with the HPV vaccine and focusing on the lower body (I'm pretty sure that all of that is so incorrect....but I'm not claiming to be any type of professional here, okay?). But he also gave me a couple of pills to take (about 15 tiny pellets, 3 times a day)

I had several follow-up sessions within 4 months, but it was almost unnecessary since the hair almost immediately started growing back. I'll admit that it was a very long, self-conscious 4 months. Today, it just looks like I have "baby hairs" growing in those bald spots.


Because I felt so self-conscious, I felt the need to be really open about it with all my friends. Interestingly, some of them completely related to the experience. One friend (who is a year older than me) had a bald spot that hadn't seen any growth in close to a year. When I was done using the cream, I offered for him to take it. I'm not sure what the status of his hair growth is currently, but I hope there's progress for him too.


Recently, my boss called me to ask about the progress of my alopecia. After telling her that it had basically disappeared, she told me that her daughter (who is the same age as me) was having the same problem. So, I tried to reassure her that it was an apparently normal phenomenon. But we both mused at the fact that all the people who were having hair loss issues were in the same age bracket. A coincidence? Perhaps. But interesting nonetheless.


I will say, though, that I'm proud that I managed to turn my little experience with alopecia into something useful. For Halloween, I was "The Winner of a Cat Fight".

***********************************

Now, I'm having another head-centered health issue, possibly stress related once again. Recently, I woke up in the middle of the night with my teeth and jaw hurting with such an intense pain. The next morning, I wasn't sure if I was dreaming it. But the pain returned later that day. After several days of talking to the boyfriend and my boss, and several days of pain and me paying close attention to it (not that I can really ignore the pain), I'm pretty sure I am having a little bout of TMJ disorder (little is not how it feels right now).

Picture from Wikipedia
This week has not been a good week for sleeping early. Yet, it's not been a necessarily stressful week at work either (mainly just a lot of concerns about finances or lack thereof). Yet, when I woke up this morning, I could feel my right jaw misaligning and I could feel the sharp pain in my teeth. Luckily, I was able to make a dentist appointment for next Tuesday. But what to do til then?

I don't want to have to take Ibuprofin or any other drugs throughout the day, though I do have
white willow bark pills at home (which Leti clued me to). But, they don't really work very well, unfortunately. The boyfriend suggested a couple of pressure points for me to try. I've been relying on them all day. They work temporarily and there is still some lingering pain, but the pressure points only really seem to numb the area temporarily anyway. For those who might need some temporary toothache relief, here is the article that I've had open in my browser all day:

How to Relieve a Toothache with Pressure Points | eHow.com
Shared via
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Here's hoping that after my dentist visit next week, this is the last of my head ouchies.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Beautiful Distractions

Sunday Rainbow as seen from Harvard Ave. and Commonwealth Ave, Allston, MA
(May 31, 2009)

I was waiting for the bus. The damn 66 bus that never ever comes when you need it, but runs on the most convenient route so you have no choice anyways. My headphones were feeding music into my brain, helping to distract me from the time. I was focused, trying to will the 66 to arrive soon. I don't know what it was that caught my attention. But I turned to my right, and there it was. I'll be the first to admit that I turned into a tourist, scrambling for my camera. Amidst all the city noise and traffic, it felt like a reminder to take things a little slower.


The boyfriend sometimes teases me when I got into "turbo mode," as he calls it, whenever we step foot in Chinatown. I feel like if we're trying to get to Dim Sum, not only is my stomach motivating me, but I don't want to get caught behind all the Sunday shoppers. On a different level, though, he's got a point. I admit that I pride myself for maintaining whatever "California" personality people perceive. But I get swept up in the rush of the commute, too.

So, once in a while, it's nice to be reminded to do so. We can all have a little "California Soul" in us.

Interestingly, (that is if you followed the link above to the 5th Dimension lyrics), here's the other end of the rainbow (from the other end of the warmer season) from 2 years ago:


During a Summer Concert Series in Boston's City Hall Plaza, while The 5th Dimension were performing.
(August 8, 2007)

Oh, by the way, the 66 bus arrived soon thereafter, and I was right on time to where I needed to go.

Monday, June 1, 2009

New Month...Old Goals...Saturn Returns.

Entering my late mid-twenties (disguised as my early late-twenties), my friend Joya clued me into "Saturn's Return." According to this astrological theory, this is the time when lots of changes occur - goals are attained, milestones are reached. Though it's not supposed to be about painful upheaval, I wouldn't be surprised if there wasn't some of that thrown into the mix for the fun of it all.


Since April 23rd of 2009, I must say there have been a lot of things going on in this 27 year old's life. From the more personal part, I've had to make some decisions about how far I'm willing to stretch myself for other people. But, that's not necessarily something I'm ready to get into in the blogosphere (god, what a word I never thought I'd use...).


My day job has been under a lot of strain, being a non-profit in a "crumbling economy." Boston Public Schools don't necessarily have the funds to support a tiny organization, no matter the fact that we're in it for the best interest of the students. Nonetheless, we're still here...we're still fighting hard for his organization. After being scared of a multitude of things (losing this job because of finances, and just generally being a wuss), I decided it was high time that I take on a supervisory role. I had a chance to help in what little ways I could with the clinical social work interns, but I would LOVE a macro social work intern. So, I emailed the Field Education Department at Boston University, and requested that they think of me when placing their students. Let me tell you...it felt great to be acknowledged not only as a previous student but as someone who is ready and able to do the work. I hope that I get a *good* macro intern next year.


So, with all the changes during the daytime, I'm finding that there are many changes in other aspects of my life. Growing into my own, I decided to go ahead with this blog. It's probably going to be a random assortment of things I find fascinating, little projects I'm working on, and updates on what's going on in this mermaid's life.
I hope it's fun for some of you :)





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