Maple Leaves, Tanuki, and Unshared Oops

There was a guy in line ahead of me with a maple leaf on his head. I hesitated to tell him about it–I mean, it was a big leaf! Surely he knew that, right?
It reminded me of Japanese folklore–those tricksters Tanuki Raccoons can disguise themselves as humans by putting leaves on their heads. Um… Could this guy be one of them? Then, he’d turn into a raccoon if I took the leaf away. So… should I let him keep playing his trick, just for now?

Oh, wait… this is just a small, local post office in a rural town… I’m probably the stranger here as a human. Oh goodness, could that actually be true? Am I the only real person here and about to get hoodwinked?! Is that security camera for catching woodland imposters, and they’re watching and giggling at me now? Waa?!

“Oops,” the guy said as the leaf tumbled off. I said “Oops” too, but for a different reason altogether!

Aptly named, Big Leaf Maple grows in the Pacific Northwest

Squid Pro Quo

If I were to open my restaurant, the menu would include:

-Sip Back & Relax: a glass of bubbly w/ a tapas plate

-You’ve Goat This: goat cheese salad

-Squid Pro Quo: Daily special; something fishy & tasty

-Endless Pastabilities: pasta with your choice of sauce & protein

-Dessert: Thanks for Pudding Up With Me

*people who know me would know how happy I am right now* I love word pan and cooking.

Take care,

Cliché but True

I got heavily sick recently, and I struggled to maintain an optimistic perspective. Resilience is my strongest asset; it caught me surprised. The usual inspirational quotes and stories of grit simply did not resonate with me in the way they once did. I felt weak, drowning in a haze of sickness day after day. My mind and ability to motivate myself seemed limited. I was discouraged by how difficult it was to feel better, both physically and mentally.

The lessons were painful, but they were lessons nonetheless. Oh, how easier it is to complain and blame everything, including myself, instead of trying to stay afloat! Criticizing yourself gives you the false satisfaction that you’re analyzing the situation, but it will only make you feel more stressed and anxious.

We all have good answers inside. We’ll have to remind ourselves that it’s okay not okay from time to time. It can take time to heal and rushing it by criticizing ourselves won’t help. While determination fuels progress, compassion propels us home. It is so cliche but it’s true — There is always light on the other side, even if you cannot see it immediately. Keep going and you’ll see it as long as you don’t quit.

Take care, everyone.

With love

4 Things That Enhance Your First Opera Experience

4 Things That Enhance Your First Opera Experience

Not so many people know this, and many wouldn’t think I do from my outdoorsy personality, but I love attending Opera concerts.
From dressing up to arriving at the theater, getting a drink, and taking in the atmosphere even before the curtain rises–opera is a lovely experience.

1. What to Wear for an Opera Concert?

Pick something you’d wear for a bit of fancy dinner at a nice restaurant. Dresses, blouses with skirts or dress pants, and smart business casual will work well. If you wear a sleeveless, it’s a good idea to bring a shawl in case the temperature is low. Opera usually ends late at night, and the outside of the building can be chilly, too. Avoid jewelry that makes noises when you move.
I’m an avid hiker, so I rarely wear heels except for the opera or symphony. They are your cinderella’s heels, so if you’re planning a late dinner, you’ll need to plan door to door transportation as well. I learned it the hard way.

2. Foreign Language?

You’re most likely going to see an opera sung in Italian, German, or French, but most opera companies project English subtitles. Programs always have a show synopsis, too.
Opera music is powerful, so sometimes you might find yourself getting swept up in the aria. And that’s the experience you want to have, so don’t worry about following the story, immerse yourself in the music and its emotions.

3. When to Applause

Sometimes there’s a silence that is for the audience to take in the music’s emotion–so it’s a bit tricky. The safest way is to wait to see what other audience members do and follow suit.

When you’re moved by the performance, you can shout:

  • “Brava!” For a female singer
  • “Bravo!” For a male singer
  • “Bravi!” For a number of singers

4. Intermission Time

Operas 2-3 hours or more in length take at least one intermission time, about 20 min to 45 min (vary). It’s time to use the restroom and stretch your legs. Get a glass of bubbly and little tapas-style snacks that are often offered. Some theaters have a pre-order system so that you can skip the line; take advantage of it by checking their website when you get your ticket.
When you see flickering lights or hear low chimes, it means the next part is about to begin.

There you have it. It’s not intimidating, as some opera aficionados make it sound. Opera is the art of emotions, so it’s up to you how you enjoy the program. Admire the powerful performance, be swept away by the beautiful area, and enjoy your dressed-up night.

Don’t forget to take photos of yourself in your favorite attire, and enjoy your late dinner or safe trip home.

Author: Misako Yoke