Houseplants

One of the most rewarding (passive) activities to do is houseplant care.

Kinda like budo, you have to learn how to ‘nurture’ and take care of others (it’s something that my wise dorm security guard told me); houseplants are a great way to start to practice that.

I never put a crazy amount of work into plants to keep them alive–I always just remembered from Elementary School how plants essentially need sunlight and water…very simple.

I think a lot of people just forget to do it on a regular, scheduled basis, hence why a lot of plants die. My plants at MoHo always lived and grew super big, while my roommate’s and friends had theirs die…

I first got into plants when I visited the Netherlands (a super agricultural country) in 2012 and saw how many beautiful colors the orchids had—I also saw many of the big windows display them so beautifully. I could only imagine how happy those plants were just bathing in the sunlight 😂.

I grew my own…had like 12 orchids at one point. It was real cool to see them rebloom with my weekly watering and fertilizing schedule. I had them for a while until I had to move outta my dorm and had my friend with good windows take care of them..unfortunately, they had too strong of sunlight and didn’t do the consistent watering schedule…so yeah, they all eventually died 🙁 Even my lovely pink ones…

My current favorite plant is my Pink Princess Philodendron (gee, I wonder why :P). I didn’t think I would ever like a houseplant that didn’t bloom flowers, but since this one had some natural pink…hmm…

Philodendrons, in general, are apparently on NASA’s list of air purifying plants…so I figured that it would be a useful plant that can help kill 2 birds with one stone; provide aesthetically pleasing beauty while being healthy 😛

My coworker then began to teach me the whole way of “propagation”–my god, had no idea that you can basically ‘regenerate’ a lot of plants by breaking off a piece…that was so alien to me, because I always thought that if a flower or leaf was picked from a tree, that it would die because of the lack of nutrients…

Nope, not with a lot of houseplants…especially aroids:

I can essentially grow MORE of this pink beauty and even sell it!!!

It was nice to use up my nice pots that I cannot put soil in…A lot of houseplants habits that Baba did made more sense now. It was cool to see this, and this is a completely new realm that I’m starting to get to know and get used to.

The most amazing thing is seeing the new roots grow on a cutting…it’s sooo fucken cool. I also heard that with this particular plant, that once you make a cutting, the new growths on the original mother plant will have MOAR PINK variegation!!! 🤩🤩🤩

This plant also got very expensive, so I’m hoping that this thing will grow and I can sell this to help pay off for some stuff. They propagate rather easily:

I think because of this coronavirus outbreak and the order of being forced to work at home, I have been less exhausted at the end of the day, resulting in me being able to do my chores and maintenance tasks. The daily commute time, the daily makeup routine, etc.. have now been eliminated, so I can actually have enough energy and time to just properly organize and maintain my plants (oh my god, sooo much time wasted commuting!). NOW I can water my plants on a weekly basis and stuff, which helps keep the plants healthy and growing, resulting in me being able to see the positive changes that occur.

It has also been interesting to see how plants adapt and change when you cut it:

If you have a big, nice window, I recommend you getting a houseplant and watering it on a weekly basis. You can just look at the soil to see if it’s super dry–you’ll know. Or, if the leaves are sad and droopy, that means it’s real dehydrated. It’s a lot of fun to see and it’s also a good way to spend time at home during quarantine, without infecting others outside 😛

I have also began to grow appreciation for other (pink) plants:

My god…those beautiful, aesthetically pleasing Instagram posts are dangerous for shopaholics like moi…

But yeah, now that it’s transitioning to Spring and we are having our days longer, I’ll probably notice some more new growths 🙂

Especially from, my god, my variegated monstera albo borsigiana…jesus christ, that thing seriously needs to grow a new leaf…

But yeah, that’s for another time. I’ll also talk about my semihydroponics journey with houseplants and seeing how much easier it is to take care of healthy houseplants with this new growing medium.

Until then, order some houseplants online so that you don’t need to go outside! You can have them delivered to your door and you can order some cute pots to put them in!

For some beginner houseplants, I recommend the following:

  • Pilea pepperomioides
  • Monstera deliciosa
  • Sweetheart hoya
  • Variegated string of hearts
  • Moonstone succulent
  • Phalaenopsis orchid (make sure you fill your sink with water and have the plant soak in it, so that the water can go from the bottom–>up).

These are all plants that I’ve personally had and grew very quickly. Some of my other favorites have had slow growth, regardless of regular care. I’ll go more into those later.

In any case, have fun! I think any plant, even the difficult ones, are manageable so as long as you put the time and energy into the research and care! The internet has also been the best marketplace to buy any plant you want (don’t go basic and just buy that wtvr basic snake plant from Home Depot…come on now…).

Final exam week?…or in-house quarantine?…

…man, this would’ve been an ideal situation had I still been working on my thesis or still working on my master’s…

The dojo was forced to close, now NYC is practically in a complete shutdown. Apparently, we are able to order food and takeout online–but who knows if those deliverymen or restaurant workers aren’t positive for COVID-19?

It is kind of weird not having naginata as my weekly routine…I’m also trying to find ways to train, despite this lockdown. I guess I’ll have to go to Baba’s house or go to the mountains, like the olden days—at least I get the “legit” Musashi experience(笑).

Japan is probably not gonna happen next month, since I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get back into the country, resulting in my work being affected, and Hawaii is now out of the question because of the (practical) ban of domestic travel..so yes, I’m stuck here.

I guess I can take advantage of this time by going over many of the things that I’ve needed to do but put in the back burner for ages; organization, more advertising, etc etc etc…I guess I can think of it all.

I guess now I can make my nice aesthetically pleasing budo interior + study for my licensure exams. I was also thinking about maybe pursuing a license in acupuncture and TCM–couldn’t be any more of a stereotypical martial artist lol.

Well, I guess also this budo blog is something that I can get back to working on.  It’s been on my goal list for a while.

I also cannot believe how time consuming chores and life maintenance are…yuck. 面倒臭い。

It was my Sensei’s bday last Wednesday.

Happy Belated Bday, Sensei. It’s hard to believe that the dojo has now been open for 1 year, without you being here to see it. Although it is essential to train under different teachers and different people as a way to develop one’s own Naginata (and to make up for any gaps in some teachers’ teachings), it just isn’t the same thing as having a primary Sensei to go to as your main source of knowledge—-it’s like, “coming home” from college to your parents, sleeping in your cozy, familiar bed, and feeling like you can, “be loose.” The main Sensei is who you check-in with to double check outside critiques, since they are the ones who have seen you from the very beginning and saw your Naginata grow and develop from that initial starting point.

I honestly thought that you would see me through my kodansha shinsas and see your lineage through my students. Never, in a million years, would I have expected you to abruptly get a brain aneurysm at the age of 52 and never seeing how much Naginata grew because of you.

It is very interesting now to talk about my Sensei to my students; I can only use certain examples of things she said, or maybe just compare her to other familiar people or fictional characters (e.g. Pokemon), yet, this doesn’t quite get everything about the true essence of who she was—-it is merely a fraction of who she was as a whole. I do admit, whenever someone mentions something about you, like when my 12-year old student guessed that, “Sensei’s senseiiiiii!!!!” was going to be the strictest judge on the shinsa panel, something in me smiled in nostalgia because I did remember how harsh you were about your promotion exam standards and because I guess people who have never met you before, still was able to capture that little accurate piece of you through my stories. In some ways, I was hoping that your spirit would have been there to hear that, but a part of me also really wished that you were alive to hear it in physical form. I still get sad whenever I realize that you actually aren’t here anymore and I do enjoy talking about your stories to my students as a way to keep you alive.

I am still grateful to you for shaping me into the person that I am today. You have made me goal-oriented and taught me so much.   有難う。

Sumi Sensei’s words on new people

When people first come to this dojo, they usually want to learn about what naginata is and curious about it.

After the 2nd or 3rd practice, these people then want to be accepted (as part of the friend group).

So, it is therefore important to make sure you accept them and welcome them. Side conversations and chatting are very, very important during these times

5-dan Shinsa Prep

So I was suggested by a sensei whom I train under whenever I go to Japan to write out a, “guideline” for foreigners (non-Japanese) in how to get go-dan, by writing out my own experiences/feedback that I received when I prepped for my exam.  I originally told that sensei that I would be more than happy to do it, but that I’m not sure if my, “guidebook” would be helpful to others because the feedback that I got for myself, may be different than what another person would need in order for them to pass the exam.

But upon thinking about it further, I figured, “Why not?” since it may help others in the end anyway–may as well give it a shot, wouldn’t hurt.

I originally wanted to document the whole experience as vlogs–but I’m sure that the senseis and the AJNF wouldn’t have wanted their privacy to be jeopardized (since a lot of their feedback was from their personal naginata philosophies, etc…) and the work, I felt, would’ve made me shift out of focus with what I was really supposed to be doing there anyway.

I talked about this with some other non-Japanese national 5-dan friends, and they seemed to be open to the idea as well—it would honestly be interesting to compare all of our notes together.

What’s in my makeup bag?

I was originally intended to post a, “What’s in my bogu bag?” post, but since I’ve recently switched on over to a furoshiki, I decided to do an overdone, “What’s in my makeup bag?”post instead.

Note: I have WAY more makeup at home. This is also a super, super, minimalist (for my standards) version of my travel makeup bag.

In conclusion, I have waaay too much Sailor Moon makeup to the point where it’s embarrassing. No wonder my coworker asked how old I was LOL.

The “Broom” Temple

One of the things I miss about living in Japan is having jinjas/temples easily accessible whenever I wanted.

I always loved the quiet atmosphere, the serene, pure feeling that each jinja gave off.

So…since going to a jinja whenever I was in trouble is not a feasible thing to do while living in NYC (can’t fly to Japan every time I’m in need), I decided to research further t see if there were any Buddhist temples here in NYC. I knew that some of my students grew up with Buddhist temples in Texas and other parts of the U.S., so I decided to research further and see.

During the winter, I found a Guan Yin temple here in NYC and went to it. I was always curious about the building and I was glad to see the BIGGEST, golden….

statue

of Guan Yin.

😛

But even so, that temple and this other one I went to, although relieved to be in a temple, did not quite ‘feel’ like Japan, in the same way. The air seemed less dense and I guess the ‘vibes’ were different. Not that it was a bad thing, but I guess I just couldn’t quite get my ‘Japan fix’ in the same way I was able to get it through my select matcha cafes here in NYC.

Recently though, I found out through another friend that there’s apparently a HUGE ASS Buddhist temple in the middle of nowhere, North of Jersey.

So I OF COURSE, wanted to see what this was in person and go.

With the taikai and things coming up, and the less likely chance of going to Japan any time soon, I decided to really put it in my schedule to go.

I went there, and omg.

I legit felt like I was back in China.

The walkway was pretty awesome, the statues, the exterior, everything…was awesome.

The one thing that stood out to me was the wide, stone floor of the temple. It just reminded me of that scene from, “Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story” when Bruce Lee was teaching a mass army of students outdoors.

I, of course, had to strike a pose (the little of my tai chi that I remembered from like 13 years ago) on that floor, and pretend to be in a Wong Fei Hong movie 😛

The temple itself, felt a lot like the Kuan Yin temple I went to in the city. The feeling was different, despite being in the middle of nowhere, and not quite like Japan. However, I appreciated the nature, architecture, and the spaciousness.

I had zero clue how to pray to the deities in the Chinese way…so I just did what I do in Japan, since the Gods, in theory, should be able to ‘feel’ what you are feeling.

I noticed some Japanese momiji there, and there was a bunch of BIG, BLACK, KOI xD I saw some nice gold and orange/white ones. That was real cool.

I also saw my homegurl Year of the Rabbit Bodhisattva 😛 Couldn’t pray to her though, since she was just a painting, but it’s all good. Didn’t see Fudomyo, though.

I totally wanna go back there and spend the whole day there again, sitting out in nature. I also loved this lil “Tea House” thingy that was outside. It literally reminded me of the Astor Court at the MET.

Next time, I’ll bring some manju and tea 😛 yum yum.

I’m glad I got to do some 御祈り and see a new place. I was surprised that the temple didn’t sell any お守り, since I got some at that Tibetan Buddhist temple in Beijing.


At the end of they day though, I had to conclude it with a matcha latte…whoopsies. Not surprising, though:

I LOVE animated .gifs

 

大〜〜〜付き〜〜〜!!!!
What happens in isshujiai.
This is the old school way to becoming badass and how you get stronger in shiai
This is the old school way to becoming badass and how you get stronger in shiai.
I am Shang, afterall :)
I am Shang, afterall 🙂

One of my Harvard students had an AWESOME app on her phone that allows her to make animated .gifs from videos. I’m so jealous (she’s an Android user). I found a way to make more naginata animated .gifs though 🙂

I can’t wait.

Prepare yourselves.

memobottle

Every physically active person owns at least one hydration storage unit of some sorts.

…or 30, or so…

I mean, to be fair, fluid storage containers have gone through MAJOR upgrades in design and functionality compared to 10 years ago…

So I may as well take advantage of it now before people stop caring about them again xD.

Anyway, so one day while I was procrastinating from my research (as usual), I saw a post on my Instagram feed from Paperedhearts, a stationary-freak who always had pretty photos:

http://www.instagram.com/p/BR6YhUJFkmM/

and noticed that odd, but cool-looking, rectangular bottle.

I’ve never seen anything like it before, so I clicked further and saw an Instagram account for a company called, “memobottle” and looked further.

I thought the design would make sense for people who carry a lot of notebooks and flat objects in their bags, but always get annoyed by the one cylindrical object they need to fit in their bag, only to get the shape of the bag messed up and have everything not fit properly.

Although I like neutral colors in general, I didn’t like that there wasn’t anything pink or heart-like in any of the bottles.

…but then I scrolled further, and found this:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BPfr7xtDMxZ/

 

and was like,

“…wait…is that a PINK cap!?!!!?!?!?”

SOLD.

I thought that although the A6 size was unique, the A5 size would be more suitable for me since it could fit into my little, pink, Japanese, purses (and man, it is a PAIN walking around all those jinjas in Japan without a bottle of H20 that fits into your little bag), and I don’t drink that much water anyway.

So I got the bottle in the mail. The packaging was very nicely done; neutral tones and kinda had that MUJI recycled style.

But when I touched the plastic of the bottle, I was not too impressed.

The plastic felt sort of thin and honestly just reminded me of a regular Poland Spring water bottle that you can get at a Duane Reade for like $1.69. The impression I got of the plastic from the photographs I’ve seen was, “thick,” “hard,” and, “strong.”

But nevertheless, I thought that the design was cool and it also had my cute, pink little accent, so I was keeping it.

I searched further on Instagram and saw this:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BQtrKGsDKVx/

And was like, “OMG that looks soo cool! I want to look like an Instagram narcissist and post pretty, superficial photos like that!!”

So I cut up some strawberries and blueberries and put it in the bottle.

I had issues putting the fruits in though. I can understand why blueberries work in the bottle, but for the strawberries, you definitely need to cut them into very small slices.

And since I don’t really drink water on a regular basis, I decided to put some matcha powder in the bottle with the fruit, to see if I can make a picture-pretty drink.

…the green from the matcha definitely overpowered the reds and dark blues of the fruits, though.

And when I brought this matcha drink of mine to practice one day, Broom said, “That looks like vomit.”

So yeah, no more cold matcha drinks for me.

So I decided to go simple and basically just put water + chia seeds + fresh fruit.

I brought in this new ‘flavored water’ to my RTS class, and everyone around me noticed the water bottle, but also asked,

“Is that a flask?”

….

Well, I guess I know where these people got their inspiration from. The company is also known as, “___ flask, inc.” So I guess that makes sense. But ugh, I didn’t want to be associated with being an alcoholic carrying around a hipster moonshine + fresh fruits cocktail on the streets. So that immediately made me lose the appeal. I guess also the small size of the A5 didn’t help too much with straying away from the classic flask image.

I also noticed that if you want to be an Instagram narcissist with the fruit water, you need to take the picture ASAP, because otherwise the juices from the berries with dissolve by the end of the day, resulting in a not-so-clean-image of your drink.

But nevertheless,

After practice that evening, I took a sip out of this flavored water,

and absolutely LOVED it.

It had a little more flavor compared to regular H20 (duh), but wasn’t super sugary. It made water drinking more bearable and it was also nice to chew on the fruits at the end. It kinda reminded me of a sports drink version of tapioca pearls. It is also helpful for post-practice recovery to get a little bit of carbs from the fruit.

But the next day…

I woke up, opened up my bag, and saw that the memobottle had a HUGE dent in it.

It literally looked like someone did a karate chop to the side of the bottle.

OMG.

I was so worried that my bottle was ruined, because the flimsy, thin, plastic would be more susceptible to holes, so I will always have leakage.

I opened the bottle, and heard a fizzle sound.

…shhhhh.

The fruits fermented.

What an idiot I was, of COURSE fruits would ferment under room temperature in a sealed bottle.

Oh dear…

The bottle did unbend, and I Facebook messaged memobottle to see if they would replace it, because there was nothing on their website nor the packaging that stated the plastic’s sensitivity to fermentation. They of course messaged back weeks later, saying that they couldn’t do it. That was rather disappointing.

But, I guess this light, flimsy, plastic wasn’t as flimsy after all! Although my bottle has a little bit of a dent, there are no leaks and it’s been working swell!

The bottle is hard to clean and hard to dry, so I may invest in their special bottle cleaner sometime in the near future. I am still trying to find the perfect angle to lay my memobottle on to get it to fully dry.

But, the bottle fits nicely with my flat furoshiki in my workout bag. It also fits nicely in the furoshiki while keeping the shape!:

Maybe I can get the A6 bottle so that I can have one that’s the same size and shape as my hakama xD.

So I totally recommend the memobottle if you would like something flat and compact. They also released this new, cute, chibi, A7 size that I’m totally tempted to get:

I’m def tempted to get that and replace the cap to pink, of course, and put it in my clutches whenever I go out.

If you are interested in buying a memobottle, you can buy one here.