Revisiting SacTown

In 2003 I moved from Madison to Folsom, California to start my professional career after graduate school. I remember spending time during my first week in Sacramento exploring the salsa scene with my buddy Ramon who came with me to help with the move. After leaving Folsom for Tokyo in 2005, I haven’t been back.

A lot has changed since my time here so I decided to spend Memorial weekend in Sacramento and Folsom, the city I used to live before moving to Tokyo. We stayed in downtown Sac and felt that there would be no better place to do dinner than at Mikuni. This Japanese restaurant used to be THE spot to go to for great Japanese eats and to be seen. So I wasn’t surprised to see that it was still in FULL-EFFECT. I had a sake bomb as my first drink which took me back to my years pre-Tokyo. I don’t recall ever having a sake bomb during my 12 years in Japan. The food was good and our kids enjoyed the scene, too.

The next few days we spent sprawling around downtown, checking out the state Capital, Governor’s mansion, Mid-Town, and other areas. We also went back to my old apartment where I lived in Folsom for a couple of years. No surprise here but it looked quite different from what I remembered it to be.

All and all, it was a meaningful time to be back in Sacramento where my Intel career started and staged my life-altering trip to Japan. Thank you Sacramento for being my stomping ground.

Santa Has Ryoko to Thank

2020 was the first time that we celebrated Christmas in California. Every year we go back to my home state but due to shelter in place we made the tough decision to stay home. Despite the challenge of not being with our loved ones this year, we remain thankful that we are all healthy and have a roof over our head. There are so many people out there who were not as lucky over the Holidays. Not being able to put food on the table, stay warm, or let alone how to tell a little one there may be no Santa this Christmas.

Every year I see how important this holiday is to my wife as it brings her back to the days of her childhood. For me I can’t exactly recall up to when I believed in Santa but I do share with her the positive memories and imaginations that she had during her childhood. This is one of the reasons why she wants our children to have a great experience every Christmas. Naturally, because of this, I have come to admire her meticulous nature to ensure our young kids — currently ages 3 and 6 — naturally believe in Santa Claus.

But 2020 is a lot different than the eighties…..

These days, it can be ever so challenging with delivery services that lead to innocent questions from our young ones. On top of that, this current pandemic has led to more questions that I’m sure many parents find it challenging to be ever more creative to address. For example, ““how will Santa be able to practice social distancing?” But more than anything, I adore how my wife thinks about every excruciating detail to ensure there are no holes in the planning for Santa’s visit every Christmas.

As I look back at the days before Christmas, I am grateful that we are able to nurture our kids’ imagination even amongst today’s challenges. I give my partner and crime all the credit for bringing this all together and ensuring that our kids have a childhood just as pure and special as she did in 1985. Thank you Ryoko!

Unremarkable Times, Remarkable Courage

This week we celebrated thanksgiving as a family for the second time in the USA. It was the first time we cooked a whole turkey and ate dinner at a full size table. Last year we had very limited furniture. But it was a reminder that we needed to be more thankful for what we have in spite of today’s challenges and shortcomings.

Before we broke bread each of us went around talking about the things that we are thankful for in 2020. For me, countless words of appreciation could never do justice about how grateful I am that we are together as a family, healthy, and have a roof over our head.

During these unremarkable times there are so many great people out there who have had misfortunes and challenges intensified by COVID-19. Losing a loved one at the dinner table this Thanksgiving is something that many Americans have to experience during the holiday season this year. Also, there are many who do not know how they will be able to pay for presents for their kids this Christmas due to losing a job. There are also many kids who are not only missing their friends at school but may not be able to eat as well as they would have if they were getting lunch at the school cafeteria. Finally, one would be remiss without acknowledging that there are many hard workers who are putting their self at risk just to keep our stores, hospitals, public transportation, and other essential necessities and destinations running. We can never take their courage for granted.

This thanksgiving — perhaps unlike others in the past — we need to not only be thankful for what we have but be mindful of how lucky and fortunate we may be. Not being with my immediate family right now for example is unfortunate but I am grateful that everyone is healthy and thriving during these challenging times.

There are so many remarkable people out there who are fighting and surviving during these unremarkable times. I celebrate and tip my cap for their courage, strength, and will to persevere. I only pray and hope that their next Thanksgiving will be their greatest ever. This is something I hope that all of us can truly understand and not take for granted.

Popcorn in a Parking Lot

Back in the day drive-in-movie theaters were the thing to do……. at least I’ve been told. I’ve seen them in movies and heard about it from family who have been to them but I had never been to one…..until yesterday. We heard about it through friends as way to get out of the house and catch a new release. We went to a theater in South San Jose and to no surprise the parking lot — if you can call it that — was packed with cars. We backed in and parked in front of screen number five to watch “War with Grandpa.” It was a bit chilly but not too cold. In fact, we watched and enjoyed dinner with popcorn from the trunk of our SUV with blankets. The kids enjoyed the experience and my wife and I both agreed that it would be something we should do again. Just another example that while we have unremarkable times that we can still have new experiences that can make for some remarkable memories. And yes, the movie was good.

This Little Sticker

This is what you get after you vote

November 3rd was big day in the US as Americans awaited the results of who will win the US Presidency. It took us a while for us to ultimately know who is the indisputable winner but for me personally Tuesday November 3rd was a meaningful day. It’s been more than a decade since I have voted in person at the polls. During my time overseas I had been using the absentee ballot. Little did I know I would feel as proud and fortunate to have received a little sticker. It probably cemented more when I discussed it with my kids as I explained what it meant to vote and how important this right every 4 years. Little did I know I’d feel as proud as I did with wearing this little sticker.