Archive | March 2017


On Sunday evening Isabelle and I went to BUSted!’s Third Anniversary at Stories Books and Café in Echo Park. BUSted! is a monthly storytelling show featuring “True Stories About Getting Around LA Told By People Who Don’t Drive.” It seemed like the perfect event for us, since we fall into the category of people who navigate Los Angeles without a car, plus we exchange stories of our weird encounters in LA, a rather startling number of which have taken place on buses or at bus stops.

We in fact had a little mishap attempting to get on the same bus to go to Echo Park, but all’s well that ends well: we ended up on the same 4, and though we arrived a little late, we hadn’t missed any of the stories. Stories Books and Café is another LA bookstore I’d wanted to visit for a while (like The Last Bookstore and Skylight Books), and now I’ve checked it off my list. It’s a long, narrow bookstore with a café in the back and a patio beyond; the show was on the patio.

BUSted! is hosted by Scott Schultz, who introduced each of the featured storytellers. Most of the stories were actually about bizarre experiences riding the bus, though there was some almost virulent anti-car spoken word and a reflection on how driving turns us into our worst selves while riding the bus inspires us to write poetry, among other things. Our favorite story was the one told by Horace, about (not) witnessing a crime on a bus and being rewarded for not telling the police anything with an invitation to what turned out to be a crack house. After the featured storytellers, members of the audience, both known and unknown to the host, got up to share stories, some of which were more to my taste than others. As I listened, I decided that some of my bus (stop) stories actually were good enough to share, were I the type to relate anecdotes to an audience of strangers. And I also found myself wondering what buses these people were riding (sometimes they would name the route, and sometimes they were routes I take!) because had never seen all these guns and drugs and whatnot. So much the better.

Between the two of us, Isabelle and I recognized two people in the audience from Alias Books. And one of them might have recognized us? The world can be small, even in Los Angeles.

After the storytelling, the Matthew Teardrop Orchestra performed. Their lead singer (Matthew Teardrop?) told some bus stories of his own while the sound equipment was getting set up. In one of them, he missed his stop because the back door didn’t open, possibly because no one had actually requested the stop (though people did get on and off). It was a long way to the next stop because it was an express bus, and Matthew was on crutches at the time, so he asked the bus driver if he’d just let him off between stops. The driver refused. Matthew acted like he was going to light a cigarette so the driver would have to kick him off the bus. The driver threatened to call the sheriff.

The music was nice (there was a violin!), and after the band’s set, the BUSted! host told one more bus story, about two guys who were spraying down seats with bug spray because they were convinced they’d gotten bedbugs from the last bus they’d ridden on.

After the show, we went back into the bookstore and browsed for a long while. Stories is small, but it has a nice selection. Eventually, we left to catch the 704 back to the Westside, and who should we meet at the bus stop but Scott the host and four other storytellers. Of course everybody was catching the bus. The host thanked us for coming and asked how we’d heard about the show; evidently we were recognizably new faces in the audience. Then the 704 came, and we went home without any BUSted!-worthy incidents.

Chasing Wildflowers

It’s that time of year again: spring break (ish–it’s actually still finals week), the annual pilgrimage to the Huntington, and, like last year, more wildflower hunting because superbloom.

At the Huntington, we visited the Library Exhibition Hall (I’m pretty sure some of the books and documents had been switched out since the last time I was there, though the stars of the show–and some of my favorites, like the John Dowland songbook–remained) as well as the Beautiful Science exhibit, which I hadn’t seen before and which featured more wonderful old books. We also hit the clivia show and the Chinese and Japanese gardens, as per usual.



The Chinese garden has a new pavilion, the 愛蓮榭 (Ài Lián Xiè–Love for the Lotus Pavilion)! I was delighted because the Chinese name I’ve had since the beginning of college is 愛蓮. It’s my pavilion! The explanatory panel in the garden mentioned Zhou Dunyi’s 11th century essay 愛蓮說 (Ài Lián Shuō–On the Love of the Lotus), which I learned about for the first time only last year, thanks to department Chinese lunch.

On Monday, my parents, Adeline, and I drove to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to witness the superbloom. We were not the only ones, but the crowds weren’t unmanageable. The park, at least the part we visited, is in a valley surrounded by mountains. After stopping at the visitors center, where I discovered thanks to some photos in the gift shop just how adorable bighorn sheep lambs are, we drove to two other destinations to see wildflowers. The first was Desert Gardens, where we’d hoped to find Parish’s poppies, but instead we saw lots of ocotillos, a lot of hawksweed, chollas, blossoming prickly pear, and a couple of desert lilies. Next we went to the sunflower fields along Henderson Canyon Road. Finally, we returned to the visitors center to poke around among the labeled specimens.

Indigo bush

A vetch of some sort

Desert lily

Phacelia with cactus

Some cactus flower

Some other cactus flower


First, here’s a lovely review of Wildings I stumbled upon!

At the end of February, I went to Maui for a family wedding. After all my friends in the Phonetics Lab went to Honolulu for the Acoustical Society of America’s conference at the end of November, I was particularly eager to go to Hawaii myself, especially since I’d never been there before. I’d never visited the non-continental U.S. or flown over the Pacific Ocean before either.

It was my mother’s cousin who was getting married, and my mother and I were the only representatives of the groom’s extended family. The bride had scads of relatives who traveled to Maui from Los Angeles, Toronto, Washington, D.C., Jakarta, and Singapore, among other places. Her family was very warm. And multilingual! Mandarin, Cantonese, Lao, English, French…


My great-aunt (the mother of the groom) and me at the rehearsal dinner

We were invited to the tea ceremony in the morning before the wedding itself. I’d never participated in any traditional Chinese wedding ceremonies before, so it was fascinating for me. And as a younger relative, I received 紅包 from the couple!


View from the lawn where the wedding was held

The day after the wedding, my mother and I went snorkeling. On the boat ride to Molokini, we saw half a dozen or so humpback whales logging, breaching, and waving their pectoral fins out of the dark blue waves! It was quite spectacular. Definitely topped the whale watching I did off the coast of Maine once. Once we reached Molokini, a crescent-shaped volcanic crater I’d seen from the plane flying into Maui, we donned wetsuits, flippers, and snorkels and plopped off the back of the boat into the water. I’d never really swum in the ocean before; it was fun being so buoyant. The water was beautifully clear, and the coral and the fish were gorgeous. It was especially wondrous when those silky, gem-colored fish swam right past your face or your hands.

The next day, my mother and I drove along the northern coast of Maui on the road to Hana (we didn’t actually go all the way to Hana). This extremely twisty road, with its one-lane bridges, winds through mountains and rain forest, past many lovely waterfalls. There was even a hillside with goats on it! We stopped at the Garden of Eden Arboretum and Botanical Garden, where we admired the peacocks, exotic ducks, and many interesting native and non-native plants.


View of Puohokamoa Falls from the Garden of Eden

On our last morning, we visited the town of Lahaina and the Wo Hing Temple, now the Chinese Museum. The museum seemed to have actual Shang Dynasty oracle bones (?!) and Song Dynasty pottery, among other Chinese artifacts. There were also photographs depicting the history of the Chinese community in Maui and lots of information on Sun Yat-sen, who visited Hawaii six times in his life and lived for a time in Maui.


Inside the Wo Hing Society’s cookhouse at the Chinese Museum in Lahaina

All in all, it was a delightful family wedding and an idyllic post-prospectus defense vacation.