The Problem With Being Perfect

April 9, 2010 by trooce · Leave a Comment 

The problem with being perfect

“Wayne Chan’s comical take on Asian culture is like a $150 bowl of shark’s fin soup – a unique and amazing offering. The Chinese-American humorist winks and nudges the reader through family reunions, parental expectations and shopping the supermarket for rambutans. The Asian experience is about family – read it, laugh out loud, and belong.”

Suzette Martinez Standring, Award Winning Author, The Art of Column Writing

Wayne Chan is delightfully funny and amazingly on target. It’s the stuff you may think but would never say out loud. His reflections on everyday life as an Asian American are thoughtful, insightful, warm, and never ever boring! Enjoy!!

Cheryl Weiberg, Editor-in-Chief, Asian Pages

The Problem With Being Perfect is a book of secrets. Most of these secrets fall into one of the following two categories:

  1. Things I’ve done that make me look like an idiot which I’d rather not share with family and friends but don’t mind sharing with people who don’t know me and have no idea where I live.
  2. Things my friends and family have done that would make them look like idiots which I can’t mention in front of them because they do know where I live.

May I also emphasize that in no way, shape or form, do any of the embarrassing stories I tell have anything to do with my wife. Even though some of the stories may seem like they could only come from my wife, and even if from time to time I actually refer to the person as “my wife”, I completely disavow any knowledge or any belief that the person in question, is in fact, my wife. If, in reading this book, you come across the words, “my wife”, please replace them with the words, “amazing human being.”

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He’s Hiding Something, I Just Know it…

February 6, 2010 by trooce · Leave a Comment 

He's Hiding Something, I Just Know It...

Laundry as a Teaching Moment

February 5, 2010 by trooce · Leave a Comment 

It’s amazing how much my life has changed since we had the triplets.  Little pet peeves I used to have just seem so immaterial now.

Before kids, my wife and I used to do the laundry together.  I would sort, wash, and dry them, and she would fold and put them away.  One week, I finished the laundry and left the clean clothes in a clothes basket in the hallway.  She didn’t touch them as she was busy, but I figured she would get to it.

Days go by, and the clothes do not move.  She walks past them without even noticing.  At one point she grabs a shirt from the pile and puts it on for the rest of the day.  I could easily have put them away but I did not want to set a precedent.  I need to maintain our marital equilibrium.

A few more days go by, I decide to make the best of the situation and I take the clothes out of the basket, squish them against the wall and form them into a pile of clothes shaped into the form of an end table.  I figure, if the clothes are just going to sit there, they might as well serve a purpose.  To further my point, I put a small lamp on top of it and placed a small fruit basket on it as well.

Now that the triplets have consumed our lives, I’m just happy the pile of clothes on the floor are clean.

The River…

December 16, 2008 by trooce · Leave a Comment 

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Giving A Whole New Meaning To Monkey Business

December 16, 2008 by trooce · 1 Comment 

Foo Joy TeaI’m sure many of you, like me, were glued to the TV last week, wowed by the spectacle of the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Olympics.  The dancers, the special effects, the long procession of athletes walking in to the stadium – I haven’t seen a line that long since I stood in line waiting to buy the new

 iPhone.

Yet, in the days that followed, despite the dominance of swimmer Michael Phelps or the Chinese team’s success in gymnastics, the brilliance of the occasion didn’t hold my attention as much as a little known compan

y doing business in China that gets very little attention but is actually no less awe-inspiring.

I’m referring, of course, to the tea-picking monkeys of Sichuan.

I learned about the existence of this monkey business during a random meeting a few weeks back.  During the meeting, as we were listening to the latest month’s sales projections, I glanced over at one of the canisters of tea sitting on the conference table.  There, sitting next to the other non-descript teas, was a canister of tea called, “The Monkey Picked Ti Kuan Yin”.  

In the description, it read:

The legend of tea-plucking monkeys comes from the inaccessibility of mountain grown teas.  Nurtured by clouds and mist, Ti Kuan Yin has an intense aroma and a complex, long-lasting finish.

In that moment, all my thoughts about the meeting disappeared and at once I became intrigued at the idea that in my tea cup, I was drinking tea made from tea leaves plucked by a monkey in a forest thousands of miles away.

A few thoughts:  1) How did the tea farmer initially decide that they were going to use animals to help them pluck tea leaves and how did they end up with a monkey?  I mean, at some point someone came to the conclusion, “OK, no more ladders.  No more long poles with knives on the end.  From here on in, we’re using animals.  Now where can we find a monkey?”

Actually, my guess is that they had to work their way up to a monkey.  I mean, why go through the cost and effort of acquiring a monkey when, say, a squirrel can climb a tree just as well as a monkey and is already climbing your tea trees?

In an attempt to confirm my hypothesis, I’m planning to employ the local squirrels in my backyard for a little manual labor.  While I have no tealeaf plants for them to pick, I figure that they are perfectly suited to clean out the gutters of my house.  I will report on my progress with this at a later date.

Now back to the monkeys.

At some point, the tea farmer decides to use monkeys to pick tea leaves.  So, my next question is, how do you train a monkey to pluck tea leaves?  Now don’t get me wrong, I know that monkeys are capable of doing a lot of things – carnival tricks, sign language, etc., but picking tea leaves?

I imagine the training sessions involve a lot of frustration and patience for the tea farmer.

Bungo!  Get over here!  Drop that banana and get over here now!  How many times do I have to tell you?  I only want tea leaves!  Nothing else!  What did you bring me this time?  A shoe!  One shoe!  You’ve been monkeying around all day!  Today alone you’ve brought me three tea leaves, a rock, four sticks, a dead mouse and this shoe.  Bungo!  Stop scratching yourself and pay attention!  You never see Bingo, Bango or Devin making these kind of mistakes.  Now you shape up or no more bananas and you can go back into the jungle to eat bananas whenever you want! Get back to work you cotton-pickin’, tea-leaf pickin’ monkey!

The funny thing is that this company is actively promoting their tea and how monkeys picked the tea leaves.  I wonder how it would go over here if the next time you pick a bottle of ketchup and in bold print it read, “The finest ketchup made from tomatoes picked by our own band of monkeys!”  

Last thought:  now that the Chinese have proven themselves in gymnastics while still having monkeys climbing tea leaves from trees humans can’t climb, wouldn’t this be the perfect time for the ultimate face off?  

Now that’s a sporting event I’d pay to go see.

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Welcome to Trooce

December 11, 2008 by trooce · 2 Comments 

Welcome, I have posted a video introduction to this webblog. I hope that you take your time to look through this weblog, and that you enjoy your visit to this weblog that contains video, audio and articles written by Wayne Chan.

Politics

September 10, 2008 by trooce · Leave a Comment 

I must admit that I am a political junkie. If it weren’t for the kids, work, my wife, and her insistence that I take a shower every single day…I could watch the evening news shows indefinitely.

I get a kick out of watching the verbal sparring, the veiled insults, the accusations that are thrown about and then denied the following day – and that’s just from the political pundits.

Our democratic process is often messy, but it’s something we have all come to expect, coming from the world’s oldest democracy. I wouldn’t trade if for anything else, and it comes as no surprise then, that in other, younger democracies, the process can get downright scary.

I’ve watched clips of the Taiwanese legislature get so heated that actual fights have broken out in session – sometimes between men and women. In one session, I saw shoes being thrown between legislators. There were penny loafers, wing-tips, pumps, and stilettos – projectiles launched at a high rate of speed. I haven’t seen so many shoes tossed about since the last time Nordstrom Rack had it’s semi-annual sale.

I checked Taiwan’s constitution and under Article 11, it states, “The people shall have freedom of speech, teaching, writing, and publication.” I double-checked to make sure no one had added an addendum like “…but if you disagree with what someone has said, feel free to fling your footwear in protest.”

Back in the U.S., it occurred to me that if the current vetting process is good enough to elect someone as important as a president, wouldn’t that same process be just as reliable in making some of our everyday decisions?

To test my theory, I decided to try out this strategy while interviewing someone who was interested in being our babysitter.

The following interview took place between the baby sitter, (or in more politically correct terms, the PALF, which stands for: Pre-Adult Life-skills Facilitator) and me.

ME: Thanks so much for coming down to see us. Tell us why you’d like to be our PALF?

PALF: Well, I love children, and I find it rewarding to take care of kids.

ME: I see here that you used to be a Girl Scout and you’ve won some awards for selling the most cookies.

PALF: Yes, sir.

ME: Were you aware that cookies in general are loaded with carbs and sugar and if consumed regularly and in large quantities could play an adverse role in our children’s future obesity and hypertension problems? Why would you, someone who claims to love children, intentionally encourage behavior that effects our kids lives, and by extension, the lives of a future generation of kids?

PALF: Sir?

ME: What I need to know now, and what I think our kids have a right to know, is whether their PALF is Pro-Health or Pro-Snack?

PALF: Sir! Of course, I want all kids to be healthy but…!

ME: Why the evasiveness, PALF? Next topic – I have a picture of you and a friend standing in front of what appears to be an Eminem concert, is this true? Is it? Is it? I need an answer!

I immediately end the interview as I see her take off her shoes.

Hogging Up All The Attention For Chinese New Year

September 10, 2008 by trooce · Leave a Comment 

I have a dilemma.

I’ve been asked to devote this column to the upcoming Chinese New Year, which for 2007 celebrates the Year of the Pig. The only problem is that I’m having a tough time with the subject matter.

It’s not that I can’t think of anything to say – on the contrary, I’ve got loads of material. My problem is that as a humor writer, I am having a hard time resisting the temptation to throw out pithy little pork-related zingers as I try to write something serious in commemoration of this year’s honored animal, the pig. I mean – I could really go hog-wild.

You see – it’s starting already.

I just find it especially hard to write about this year’s guest of honor whose closest connection to me were the sausage links I had for breakfast this morning.

Shoot. You see? I just can’t help myself.

I need to be able to put aside my own western notions of what a pig represents and try to understand the inner beauty of this esteemed animal. From what I’ve read, the pig of Chinese astrology is perhaps the most generous and kind of all the animals. Pigs are down to earth, caring of friends, and completely selfless.

According to Astrology.com, pigs “…are so magnanimous they can appear almost saintly. (They are) highly intelligent creatures, forever studying, playing and probing in their quest for greater knowledge. They can be misinterpreted as being lazy however, due to their love of napping, taking long bubble baths or dallying over an incredible spread of rich foods.”

Magnanimous and saintly? Quest for greater knowledge? Taking long bubble baths or dallying over an incredible spread of rich foods? Am I missing something? We are talking about a pig and not a Nobel Prize-winning, recently ordained pastor/super-model, right?

Oops, there I go again. I’m letting my western bias’ slip through. Well, at least I’ve managed to get through this much of the column without using the word “bacon” a single time.

Blast it.

This darned pig is obviously making it hard for me to reconcile between my Asian heritage and my American upbringing. Does it have to be a pig? Why not a more acceptable animal, like a swan? Why can’t we have the Year of the Swan? I can write my tail off waxing poetic about the elegance and beauty of a swan.

A swan won’t work? Fine, how about the Year of the Eagle, or the Year of the Giraffe? How about the Year of the Gazelle? I can do a moose, a beaver, a porcupine…no problem. I just don’t think I can do a pig justice.

Is this whole Chinese Zodiac animal system written in stone or is anyone taking suggestions?

While we’re at it, can someone please explain how we can have the year of the snake, monkey, and rooster but the CHINESE New Year celebration doesn’t have a Year of the Panda? How can that possibly be?

The Year of the Pig. I’m sorry – I’m just not up to the challenge. I’m stuck. I’m completely hog-tied.

I know – you saw that one coming.

Well, it’s only a year. Maybe next year’s animal will be a better fit for me. Let’s see here, 2008 is the year of the…rat.

Someone help me.

The Dog Days of 2006

September 10, 2008 by trooce · Leave a Comment 

As we are soon approaching Chinese New Year, I thought it would be appropriate to do a little research so that I might be able to impart some words of wisdom on this festive occasion.

As you may know, every Chinese New Year celebrates a specific animal. There are twelve animals in the cycle, and at the end of the cycle you start all over again. Some of the animals in the cycle include the rat, the snake, and the goat (or Ram).

This year, it turns out, is the year of the dog. As luck would have it, we actually own a dog. Therefore, for the benefit of my readers, I have been observing the behavior of our dog “Bingo” for the last few days.

In addition, in order to bolster my findings, I looked up a few interesting factoids on various personality traits associated with the year of the dog.

Herewith, are my findings, in the form of a true/false test on how well these traits matched up with what I observed in my dog Bingo:

Trait Number One: Those who fall under the Year of the Dog have a deep sense of loyalty and inspire confidence in others because they keep secrets well.

This is TRUE. A few days ago while I was home alone with only Bingo as my companion, I decided to polish off the last of the leftover birthday cake from a party earlier in the week despite my wife’s threats of hiring a nutritionist to follow me around if I ate it. When my wife got home, my loyal dog not only kept his mouth shut, but he didn’t even bat an eye when I tried to blame him for eating the cake.

I bet that if I owned a rat or a goat for a pet that they would have spilled the beans the second my wife walked through the door.

Trait Number Two: They care little for wealth; yet somehow always seem to have money.

This is TRUE. While I am sure that Bingo has never held down a paying job, somehow a package gets mailed to us every couple of weeks containing doggie treats, milk bones, and the latest issue of “Dog Fancy” magazine.

Trait Number Three: They are eccentric, somewhat selfish, and terribly stubborn.

This is INCONCLUSIVE. While it is true that Bingo does exhibit some odd behavior (anyone who has seen where he likes to scratch himself knows what I’m talking about), it is false that he is selfish because he will generously drop any dead rodent he has caught at my feet as he comes in from the backyard.

Trait Number Four: They can be cold and emotionally distant at parties.

This is FALSE. Call it what you will, but after seeing what Bingo did on my neighbor’s leg the last time he visited, the last words you would use to describe his behavior is “cold and emotionally distant.”

Where is that dog anyways? I need him. There’s a pastrami sandwich in the refrigerator with my name on it.

Working Out A Pointless Exercise

September 10, 2008 by trooce · Leave a Comment 

Wayne Chans I just came back from the gym and I feel great. I’d say ten percent of my euphoria is due to the typical reasons people feel great after working out – that my body feels refreshed and healthy. The remaining ninety percent of my enthusiasm comes from the knowledge that it’ll be another 47 glorious hours before I have to subject myself to the torture of working out again.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the benefits of going to the gym. The irony of it is that I have always been a very active person, whether I was playing tennis, volleyball, basketball or “Marco Polo” in the neighborhood pool. The difference with competitive sports is that there is a point to the activity – literally.

How many points can I score against the other side? I just won another point! Now it’s match point! I won the winning point! Yahoo! Look at everyone pointing at me, they’re saying, “You’re the point master!” Now it’s off to Wimbledon to win some more points!

I could go on, but I think you get my point.

You don’t earn any points when you’re working out in a gym (and just in case you think I missed it – brownie points don’t count). Of course, the reason why I go to the gym is to stay in shape. It’s just that the actual activities you partake in at the gym seem so unproductive.

You run around a circular track as long as you can only to end up exactly where you started. Running on a treadmill is even worse. You start from point A, and forty minutes later you arrive at point…well, actually, you never left point A. Some treadmills will actually tilt upwards during the routine so now you’re panting just trying to catch your breath as you try to scale a Himalayan mountain traverse that leads nowhere.

At least when you’re hiking up a mountain you have some sense of control. Picture someone (OK…me) who’s on level ten on the treadmill, with the machine at a steep pitch, barely keeping up with the machine, when all of a sudden, without warning, you have an overwhelming urge to…sneeze.

It’s like someone installed an ejection seat on my treadmill. One minute you’re running on the treadmill, the next you’re body-slamming the gym floor like a professional wrestler. And of course, let’s not forget…I’m doing this all for my health.

Lifting weights is the toughest exercise for me. You spend an enormous amount of energy to lift a really heavy object into the air. There’s no objective to lifting the weight except to put it back down on the floor so that you can do it again and again. Your mind knows why you’re doing it but your body clearly doesn’t understand. You can almost hear your body speaking to you.

I’ve been patient with you on these weights, but enough is enough. You are now beginning to experience severe muscle spasms up and down your arms and legs and this will continue until I’ve made myself perfectly clear. Unless someone is paying you to lift these weights, you will soon experience what it’s like to visit Cramptown, USA.

When I travel to Asia, I do my best to keep up my exercise regimen. The problem is, everybody there apparently has the same mindset towards working out that I do. You don’t see many people exercising, and I suspect the reason is that they eat healthier, and have more active lives than we do.

The few times I’ve tried going for a jog in Asia, you see all sorts of people staring in my direction. They’re not really staring at me, mind you. They’re looking directly behind me to see who might be chasing me.

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