June 27, 2017 – Oreo O’s.

STORY TIME: As some of you know, Oreo O’s had their re-release June 23rd, and ever since then, I’ve been hitting up a Walmart each day in hot pursuit of my childhood memories. Tonight, I decided to put my education to use and put on my researching hat, utilizing walmart.com’s handy product finder to search the nearby Walmart’s for my beloved O’s. Lo and behold, it said “In Stock” at the store closest to me. HOWEVER, when I clicked it, all that came up was a grey OUT OF STOCK message. Retreating to the search bar, I clicked on the Walmart near Biola and the Walmart that was second-closest to me in the opposite direction. Aisle A-16. Aisle A-14. THEY GAVE AISLES. I told my fellow Oreo O’s enthusiast Jason Huang and the OG finder of Oreo O’s at his local Walmart Terrance T Chang that I was embarking on my quest. Godspeed, they said. Godspeed indeed. I ran down the stairs, prompting a question from my mom about what was happening. DESTINY IS HAPPENING, MOTHER. I pushed my trusty MPV to its limit racing out of the garage. Which Walmart do I choose? It’s getting close to closing time, after all. Then, it hit me. BIOLA. There was a measure of providence at play this evening. I raced towards Alondra, turned, raced towards Valley View, turned, and pressed on ahead. It was within reach. Would I be disappointed, or would it be complete fulfillment of my June 23rd desires? Chris Yuen, in his famous “Question of the Week” during Sunday school, came to mind as I answered “Oreo O’s” in response to “What is your favorite cereal?” Thank you, Chris. I looked at the Walmart that lay before me – Neighborhood Market. I’ve got a good feeling about this. I rush to park, parking in a spot with some words on the ground. As I left, I saw that the words were, “Clean Air Vehicle Only.” I grappled for two seconds with just going in and rushing out only to trust that the O’s would be waiting for me, wanting me to play it safe and not get into trouble with the law. I rushed into another parking space, outwalking a couple ahead of me. Aisle A-16. There are no A’s here. But there is an aisle 16. And there is cereal in that aisle. I began to smile but realized it and tried to avoid smiling in a Walmart, as I am told that Walmarts are not the best places to be (to those people, I say HA! Walmart is the safe haven of cereal delights…I hope). My head is literally pounding now as I fight back disappointment and the anxious squealing of the kid inside. I scan the cereal aisle, walking to the very end. Nothing. Maybe I missed it? I walk back the other way. Nothing. A group of people start talking about which cereal to get, and that’s when I spot them. Hiding next to Pops and Cocoa Pebbles (decent cereals in their own right) were my GOAL, my FULFILLMENT. I could hardly believe that these people were talking about Cinnamon Toast Crunch – haven’t you had that available to you for the past ten years?! WHAT ABOUT OREO O’S?!? I reach deep into the shadows that tried to forbid our long overdue love, and pulled out a box. And then another. And then another, for remembrance’s sake. And then I snagged some whole milk because it’s the most flavorful and I saw that Hilary Duff drank whole milk, and she looked wonderful. I want to look wonderful too. My journey was over. I finally secured my O’s. Thank you, Manager David White, for stocking Oreo O’s in your Walmart – you have delivered precious childhood memories unto me. If you’re in the area, 14865 Telegraph Rd., La Mirada, CA 90638 is the store to hit. I would keep them all to myself, but, like the Gospel, it ought not be held in but shared with everyone around me. Thanks for being a part of my journey.

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On Baking.

I’m not a great baker by any stretch of imagination; I don’t know how anyone could really stake such a claim when shows like “The Great British Baking Show” exist.  (If you haven’t watched the show yet, you have something to do in your free time now – it’s fantastic!).  However, when I do exercise my baking wits, I find that the most enjoyable part of baking above sampling my own creation, beyond taking pictures of the final product, is the solitude that comes with the effort.  From my experience, it’s held true that people enjoy baking together; the camaraderie, the division of labor, the shared memories – something about it really brings people together, apparently.  This is not to say that I prefer to be a baking hermit.  I think that baking with friends, especially friends who are more experienced, always proves to be a tremendous learning opportunity as well as a time to have fellowship and literally break bread.

However, something about being alone when I’m preparing ingredients calms the inward storms I face.  The way I prepare my butter to be mixed, how I keep my eyes level on the “one cup” line, and the various idiosyncrasies that come with a novice baker’s “feel” – all of these things thread themselves together in a composition of unrevealed artistry.  While they might not be the best methods nor the most efficient, the connection that develops during the entire process of baking can only be summarized as catharsis.  Depending on my mood, my thoughts, my experiences, it can feel as if the baking process takes years, or it can take minutes.  The preparation of the ingredients allows me to gather my thoughts; it prepares me for the mixing of the ingredients.  When I pour in the dry with the weight, I like to do it in thirds; how I feel at the beginning, middle, and end of whatever circumstances I’m going through.  At the end of it all, I’ll think about how I want to deviate from the recipe.  An odd pastime of mine developed from writing countless persuasive essays is finding skewed facets from which to view the world, and the same philosophy holds for my baking procedure.  I never want to conform to what has been previously established because distinction engenders innovation.  And whether or not the finished product is glass grade is besides the point; the point is that it’s art (thanks Pinkman).  Whatever I’ve baked has been put in an oven with my sadness, my stress, and my pain.  Yet how fitting is it that out of the bitterness comes something sweet?  Life is just one prolonged bake, after all; we start raw, become mixed in with the chaos of this world, and are exposed to heat until we arrive where we need to be, and that’s all.  And so, I bake to place my mind where my heart does not wish to be so that my tears might season the souls of all who taste and see.

Crunchatize Me.

*Note: This was taken from my old blog, “Poet in a World of Prose,” which has since been deleted.

I just ate not one, but two of the best bowls of cereal I’ve ever had.  And you know why they were so milk-slurping, sigh-of-relief loosing good?  Nostalgia.

Back when I was a wee little lad who dumped bowls of cereal into the toilet when I either didn’t like the cereal or didn’t want to finish it, cereal was always a bit of a hit or miss.  I knew what Rice Krispies Treats were like, but I was in for the most unpleasant surprise of my life when I decided to opt for the Rice Krispies cereal.  Expecting bits of puffed rice swathed in the most delectable of marshmallow cremes, I was met with individual, non-glazed, bits of rice that strayed so far from sweet that they were almost counted savory.  It was a mortifying experience after I ate my first spoonful, only to realize I had an entire box of this nightmare-inducing breakfast option left.  Ever since that first experience of Rice Krispies, the appetite for the cereal has eluded me.

Living in my household, any food that was colored (read: anything that was American) was denied me due to the artificial food colorings in the food.  This being the case, rare was the occasion when the Captain would visit my pantry.  It was always a party when the Captain was around.  Before a healthy infatuation with the physique of Captain America à la Chris Evans, it was Cap’n Crunch who stole my heart. Whether it was the sweet taste of Original Crunch, or the festively-colored Oops! All Berries, the Cap’n greeted my palate with a pleasant crunch (although I personally favored my cereal a bit soggier than crunchy, but not to the point of dissolving) and a bright blend of berries and buttery breakfast fare.

Today’s bowl of cereal brought all of that childhood cheer back into my life.  Rarely one to eat breakfast nowadays,  I remembered the joy and anticipation that came with hearing Cap’n Crunch tinkle into a glass bowl, gallon of milk ready on the side.  Something about the chill of the milk in tandem with the crunch and flavor of the cereal produced a shiver of recognition back to a time when life was simpler; Saturday morning cartoons were still a thing, and breakfast was a daily routine, since thirteen, a chubby fellow on the scene (sorry Biggie).  Anyhow, as I tipped the bowl into my mouth to finish off the colorfully specked remains of udder water, I happily reminisced on youth, and how nice it is that we’ve never quite left it behind us, even when we think we have.

Crunchatize Me.

I just ate not one, but two of the best bowls of cereal I’ve ever had.  And you know why they were so milk-slurping, sigh-of-relief loosing good?  Nostalgia.

Back when I was a wee little lad who dumped bowls of cereal into the toilet when I either didn’t like the cereal or didn’t want to finish it, cereal was always a bit of a hit or miss.  I knew what Rice Krispies Treats were like, but I was in for the most unpleasant surprise of my life when I decided to opt for the Rice Krispies cereal.  Expecting bits of puffed rice swathed in the most delectable of marshmallow cremes, I was met with individual, non-glazed, bits of rice that strayed so far from sweet that they were almost counted savory.  It was a mortifying experience after I ate my first spoonful, only to realize I had an entire box of this nightmare-inducing breakfast option left.  Ever since that first experience of Rice Krispies, the appetite for the cereal has eluded me.

Living in my household, any food that was colored (read: anything that was American) was denied me due to the artificial food colorings in the food.  This being the case, rare was the occasion when the Captain would visit my pantry.  It was always a party when the Captain was around.  Before a healthy infatuation with the physique of Captain America à la Chris Evans, it was Cap’n Crunch who stole my heart. Whether it was the sweet taste of Original Crunch, or the festively-colored Oops! All Berries, the Cap’n greeted my palate with a pleasant crunch (although I personally favored my cereal a bit soggier than crunchy, but not to the point of dissolving) and a bright blend of berries and buttery breakfast fare.

Today’s bowl of cereal brought all of that childhood cheer back into my life.  Rarely one to eat breakfast nowadays,  I remembered the joy and anticipation that came with hearing Cap’n Crunch tinkle into a glass bowl, gallon of milk ready on the side.  Something about the chill of the milk in tandem with the crunch and flavor of the cereal produced a shiver of recognition back to a time when life was simpler; Saturday morning cartoons were still a thing, and breakfast was a daily routine, since thirteen, a chubby fellow on the scene (sorry Biggie).  Anyhow, as I tipped the bowl into my mouth to finish off the colorfully specked remains of udder water, I happily reminisced on youth, and how nice it is that we’ve never quite left it behind us, even when we think we have.

Lightness of Being.

To walk among the meadows

and not break out in hives.

To smell the trampled flower

and hope that it survives.

A wisp of cloud beyond the view,

grassy feathers specked with dew –

its name is just a life that thrives.

As sunbeams pour onto the Earth

and springtime has just given birth,

the heart is cheered by time.

Though clouds float on in silent mirth,

they shine with joy’s peerless worth

with wisdom just sublime.

A feather falls as if it flies –

the pull of gravity it flees.

The wind bears it upon its sighs

as the sun smiles on all it sees.