Who Do You Want To Be Today?

Editor’s Letter

Forty is a birthday milestone that should be celebrated. According to Wikipedia, if I was born in Asia between 1950 and 1955, I would be dead by now.

But I was not and I am not. I was born in 1977 in what is considered a “more developed region,” so I can expect to live to a glorious… 72.

So… moving on. What to think now of being 40? Last year, I thought 40 meant I needed to be “accomplished” in my life – a completed bucket list to show that I have lived a life worth living. Loyal readers may recall the “Twenty Before Forty” series, which still remains to be published in coming months, that reflects this perspective.

But as much as this checklist has been challenging and fun to complete, I’ve realized that I was going about this 40th birthday all wrong. Turning 40 shouldn’t be about the things I’ve done or even who I’ve become, but who I want to strive to be… What character do I want to be and show up in the world? 

First is temperance, as described by the VIA Institute on Character. (I’ve never been a big drinker, but this is not what I mean.) Temperance includes virtues such as forgiveness, humility, and self-regulation. While I am far from the perfect role model for temperance, I do want to be more accepting of others’ shortcomings, and show empathy and acceptance rather than condemnation. This goes a long way in dealing with bad drivers and annoying cashiers. I also want to be more humble, and recognize that it’s better for accomplishments to speak for themselves rather than needing affirmation and explicit approval. I often let my emotions or impulses get the best of me, so greater self-control would also make me happier. As I’ve learned unfortunately several times, a tuna melt, corn dog and half-dozen doughnuts does not. 

Second is courage, which includes being brave, persevering, and being honest. I was once called brave in 11th grade for telling a boy I liked him, despite not actually knowing that much about him. But I never really considered the possibility of my actually being brave until recently. By speaking up about how I feel and what I want, I’ve experienced a vulnerability I was too afraid to endure in the past. As for perseverance, the experience of online dating more than suffices. And yet, soon I’ll be embarking on that journey again because I hope for love and companionship and I know I can do what it takes to keep that a possibility. And finally, honesty about who I am and what I need. This includes accepting and even loving my introvertedness, and not shying away from fiercely protecting my alone time – even if this comes up against my desire to please others, which is also strong and not always for my highest good. 

Third is transcendence, including an appreciation of beauty and excellence, hope for the future, humor, and gratitude. Appreciating beauty and excellence requires slowing down, and really seeing. I was fortunate to visit Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks recently, and there is truly nothing like a solo hike to allow you to see – really see – nature around you, including every alarming lizard, cheeky squirrel, and noble tree. And despite nothing that can prove it or support it, I have hope for the future. It is hope that compels me to try online dating again, hope that I can make a difference through my work, hope that I can exceed Wikipedia’s expectations and live another 40 years to appreciate, enjoy, contribute and help improve this world around us. For all of this must be with humor, as I cannot imagine my first 40 years without laughter. Being able to laugh at the world, and most importantly myself, is the quickest way I know to endear and be endearing, to make the rough patches endurable, and the high points worth sharing. As Maya Angelou wisely puts it, 

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.

 And finally, gratitude. I have so many things to be grateful for, the people in my life and the life I have lived, that it is truly beyond any comprehension or deserving… That I have this space, this Tastes Like Onion to show up in the world and express my found voice, is amazing.  

Thank you for allowing me to express gratitude that you have joined me on this journey. Thank you for choosing to spend your precious time to be with me, one post at a time. Thank you for indulging the musings of one 40-year-old woman.

Thank you. 
Warmest regards, 

S. T. 

“Woman”

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He’s Just Not That Into You


(Los Angeles) One woman’s attempts to woo an acquaintance have utterly failed, according to official sources. 

She first met this person several months ago through a shared interest, and had exchanged a number of awkward but un-noteworthy hugs since that first meeting. It had only been in recent weeks, however, that her interest turned romantic.

“I was intrigued by him at the beginning,” said the woman in an official statement. “He was traveling to Italy, my favorite country in the world. But then I started dating someone,” continued the woman, “and I did not really think about him in that way.”

When asked what had changed, she cited being single, and the classic textbook indicator, jealousy. 

“He mentioned going on a date,” noted the woman in an official statement, “and I felt this flare of jealousy.” 

“He was supposed to only like me!”

Since then, the woman initiated several attempts to subtly convey her interest. These included asking him if he wanted to hang out to sketch (to a quick ‘no’ and head-shaking response), telling him she was hungry (to entice a dinner invitation that never came), and asking him how to know when you are in someone’s “friend zone” (‘It is personality,’ he says). 

“I do not know how I could have been more clear,” the woman went on to report. “I literally told him that if he wanted to do something together, let me know, but that if he did not want to I would not be offended.”

This last statement garnered a glance in her direction, according to her peripheral vision, but nothing further.

While reliable sources describe the love interest as “awkward” and “kinda creepy,” the woman had been undeterred in her pursuit. This is no longer the case, according to official sources.

“If he is not interested in me, there is no point in forcing him otherwise,” the woman noted. “Or this might be my rebound crush, in which case it is good that nothing is happening now. Either way, the people on the Gold Line knew what was happening, even if he did not…”

“Besides, if we stay just friends – it is the perfect formula for romance!” 

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EXCLUSIVE: Friday Field Notes


(Los Angeles) WikiLeaks has just released dozens of field notes from one local woman. Tastes Like Onion has the exclusive. This past Friday’s field notes are reprinted below in full.


04/14/17

07:45 Discovered strange dog in backyard. Made eye contact. Asked neighbors if they lost a dog. Son came to take dog. Dog did not seem pleased. 

08:00 Train pulled into station. Ran for train. Breathed heavily on train as it sat at station for another five minutes.

08:10 Ate breakfast on train while reading Shakespeare’s “As You Like It.” Play not easy to read whilst eating. Remembered play was featured in “Never Been Kissed.” Contemplated why Mr. Coulson was enamored with Drew Barrymore’s character.

08:25 Observed young man pick up fallen trash to throw away in nearby trash can. Smiled, thinking there is still good in the world.

9:35 Dentist commented on wonderful smile and sunny disposition (as roughly translated from Korean). Was asked about a boyfriend since I seem so nice. Was left to contemplate relationship status while teeth being cleaned.

10:07 Discovered new café. Listened to young folks talk about their blogging, as if people care what they have to say. Irony noted.

10:34 Was asked for nearest ATM location. Did not know. She just moved here. Magnanimously welcomed her to LA.

11:00 Chatted on phone with new friend. Was happy during call but left tired from social effort.

11:37 Heard “Don’t Stop Believing” while walking. Felt like in a musical until cyclist with his radio passed on the sidewalk.

11:48 Mentally corrected woman who described Metro Civic Center station as having underground food court and waterfall. Maybe she was thinking of Grand Park and Bunker Hill food court.

12:10 Was asked whether going to school, by a 48-year-old man from Long Beach who never finished college, worked as a draftsman, took a sabbatical to do commercial fishing, used to drive a 1964 Volkswagen Beetle, and now takes public transit everywhere including to his second job “at the horses” [in Santa Anita]. Was asked for donation money. When man attempts a joke, his mouth forms an “o” and pauses, waiting for laughter. Did not laugh so as to not encourage behavior. Did not matter.

13:15 Ate popular poke food with friends in an outdoor courtyard. Learned that community service is an alternative to paying driving ticket fines. Resisted free candy sample and learned that honey can be made from cactus.

14:45 Listened to live piano music while waiting for train. Set included “Say Something” with live singing, and oddly felt emotional. Might be effects of Moon Cheese. Bird flew near face.

17:00 Mild electrocution of outer and upper shoulder with heat pad was relaxing. Subsequent exercises were not.

17:25 Foraged for food at local Trader Joe’s.

19:22 Read.

20:22 Read.

21:21 Read.

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Tiny Dancer

Editor’s Note: This is part of a series entitled “Twenty Before Forty,” where we follow one woman as she checks off her way to happiness and premature middle age. This is number 17 of the series, not published in numeric order.


(Los Angeles) One woman’s effort to be more social resulted in pain and loneliness, according to official sources. This was as a result of trying social dance and tap dance.

The woman has had a history of dancing, beginning with ballet at a young age. In junior high and high school, officials traced ties to a competitive dance drill team, and to dancing and choreographing various dances through her school’s dance production. She was also a varsity cheerleader and competed with her squad.

“She had always enjoyed dancing,” recalled a childhood friend, “for as long as I can remember. She made it look easy.”

In the past year, the woman confided in friends that she wanted to stimulate her mind and reconnect with her body through new styles of dance. From what officials can piece together, at a local community college the woman enrolled in Beginning Tap, and then in Advanced Tap and Social Dance the following semester.

The woman had always wanted to learn how to tap. Sources close to her noted that she used to “tap” in grocery aisles and other tiled floor surfaces as a child.

“It is unclear,” officials noted, in response to media questions as to why social dance. “We are still going through the evidence, but there may have also been another person involved with suggesting Social Dance.”

“It also appears she was a huge fan of old Hollywood musicals.”

According to official sources, it was during the second semester that the woman sustained overuse injuries to her right big toe and left shoulder. Early investigation notes point to social dance as the cause for both injuries, as she constantly danced on the balls of her feet while maintaining her frame.

“Yeah,” the childhood friend confirmed, “like in Dirty Dancing.”

Due to her physical injuries, the woman also experienced social isolation. As she was unable to dance with a partner, she danced by herself in the corner of the dance studio.

“You really need to be with a partner to understand how the dances work,” the instructor reported as part of the official report. “I told her what exercises she should be doing for her shoulder, but week after week she danced by herself in the corner.”

“It was awkward, seeing her try to turn herself.”

Studies have found that 82 percent of dancers suffer from one to seven injuries in any given year. However while dancers in one study returned to dancing after an average of 18 days, the woman has remained injured for many months. Officials offered, then quickly withdrew, suggestions that this was due to her age.

“She was more than 20 years older than some of my students,” the instructor reported. “Then again, I’m much older than her and I’m fine except for my hernia.”

From what officials can tell, she must have experienced a great deal of pain as well as physical isolation.

“Although this was not included in our official report,” an anonymous source shared, “we have imagined ourselves in her shoes. Because she is a very small person, her arms would have been raised quite high for some time.”

“When you try social dance, find someone your own height. I will say this softly and slowly – they will want to hold you closer. ”

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Check Marks the Box

One woman has developed a “Twenty Before Forty” list – a list of things she wants to accomplish before her fortieth birthday. We recently sat down with her to learn more. Below is the transcript of our upcoming podcast episode*. For more, please see Woman to Fit 40 Years of Living Into Months and subsequent Editor’s Note.

[TRANSCRIPT]


PODCAST
: We have with us today, Woman, who is the subject of many hilarious posts on a popular blog called Tastes Like Onion. Thank you so much for joining us today.

WOMAN: Thank you for having me.

PODCAST: So, first off – I love your blog. It’s refreshing to read something with such humor, warmth, self-deprecation and honesty.

WOMAN: Wow, thank you so much.

PODCAST: How did the blog come about?

WOMAN: Yeah, so it was about six years ago when two things happened close together. One, I watched the movie, Julie and Julia. It tells parallel stories of Julia Child in France as she begins her cooking career, and Julie Powell who starts a blog to chronicle cooking through Julia Child’s cookbook. I identified with Powell, who wanted to be a writer. Two, I went to see an event honoring Jimmy Fallon. It was a hilarious show. And I was inspired by both to create and be funny – two things I continue to strive for…

PODCAST: And the particular format. It seems like with a personal blog, a first person narrative would be more natural.

WOMAN: Ah yes, except for someone shy like me. I definitely wanted to write about me and my adventures, big and small… (laughs) Mostly small. But it never felt comfortable writing, “I did this” and “I did that.” So what better way to share “non-news” than to make it seem headline-worthy. The newspaper format is the foundation, but it’s also let me be creative with other styles, such as writing an advice column, creating travel and photo spreads, etc.

PODCAST: And now you’ve come up with something for your upcoming birthday. Tell us about this list.

WOMAN: Well, I love lists. There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of checking something off… But more importantly, I recently lost someone close to me, and I wanted to honor her memory by living my life with meaning and purpose. A list seemed like a good way to figure out what those things are.

PODCAST: And why 20?

WOMAN: Because 20 is the new 40! (laughs) No, quite frankly – I ran out of time.

PODCAST: So now that we have everyone curious about this list. What’s on this list of 20?

WOMAN: Well, it’s broken down into six categories. These are Health, California, Bravery, Home, Good Citizen, and Culture. The things range from setting up a living trust and will to visiting the top 10 national parks in California, getting rid of all the boxes in my room, and learning all 88 cities in Los Angeles County.

PODCAST: Wow, quite a diverse list! Was there a full 40 list wits things that didn’t make the cut?

WOMAN: Yep – mostly physical things, as I’ve been injured the past few months. I just don’t recover as quickly as I used to! Things like trying surfing, rock climbing and kayaking. Reading an entire book in Italian. Applying for a prestigious fellowship, auditioning for something, and learning how to do basic car maintenance.

PODCAST: Are these things that could appear on a “Before Fifty” List?

WOMAN: (laughs) Haha, quite possibly. But it’s also likely that I’ll be into different things by then!

PODCAST: Well, it was a delight to chat with you and I wish you the best of luck on your list. We hope that we’ll be able to follow along on Tastes Like Onion?

WOMAN: Definitely… One thing that stayed on my “Twenty Before Forty” list is to blog more, so you should be hearing more from me.

PODCAST: We hope so. For our listeners who are curious about the full list, please check our transcript version online which includes a snapshot of the list. Thank you so much again, Woman – it was a real pleasure.

WOMAN: Thank you.

* EDITOR’S NOTE: Despite efforts to the contrary, this podcast episode will not be aired because there is no podcast.

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