Tuesday, March 3, 2015

2015 Question Time: Let's ask the "Memo" blogger

Question Time / Ask the Blogger
As many of you know, I enjoy the art of conversation with my friends on Facebook. I find it to be a great way to get to know this diverse and inclusive group of people better, and I can do it either from the convenience of home or while sipping a cup of coffee at a favorite cafĂ©.

If you think about it, what's not to like about enjoying a cup of French roast coffee, creating an ambient music soundtrack to fill my chat room, and catching up on the world events around me that my Facebook newsfeed sees fit for me to read? And, best of all, I can learn what's on the minds of my friends near and far.

Add to this mix, I occasionally text with a select group of friends via WhatsApp and, sometimes, I like to share conversation by using Skype video, too. It's the kind of multi-tasking I truly enjoy and derive a tremendous amount of benefit from.

Often, I am asked a lot of personal questions, especially by newer friends who want to get to know me better -- and I'm cool about this. Some of these questions are about my blog or other writing projects I may be engaged in at the time. Other times, I'm asked about what I majored in at university (the answer: American History) and, especially from friends where English is their second or third languages, they ask me about how to improve their English-language conversation and writing skills. I don't mind because I'm usually the one asking a lot of questions of my friends. I guess, it's the natural reporter's instinct in me. And, it's only fair to turn the tables every once in a while.

So, here are my answers to five questions I'm often asked:

What book is currently on my bedside table?
The Children of Willesden Lane: Beyond the Kindertransport: A Memoir of Music, Love and Survival by Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen tells the inspirational true story of Lisa Jura, a child prodigy pianist ---- and Golabek's mother -- who escaped Nazi-controlled Vienna for London on the famed Kindertransport during World War II. It's a coming-of-age story of one young girl's survival and how music saved her life. I began reading this wonderful book after seeing Golabek star in her one-woman show The Pianist of Willesden Lane last month at the Berkeley Rep Theatre -- and I haven't been able to put it down. 

What is an unforgettable place I've travelled to in the past year?
In the past calendar year, my out of Bay Area travel has been limited to a summer trip to Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn., and two visits to Seattle -- Labor Day weekend and Christmas. I love visiting both cities. If I could re-phrase the question to "An unforgettable place I'll be traveling to in the next year is," I would definitely say my upcoming trip in mid-June to Vancouver, B.C. to see the U.S. women's national football (soccer) team face Nigeria in the 2015 Women's World Cup. I've visited Vancouver several times over the past 20 years -- including a week's stay during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games-- and I love walking through Stanley Park and shopping and dining on Granville Island. 

What are my favorite comfort clothes?
A pair of Land's End traditional fit medium indigo blue jeans, Uniqlo black long-sleeve t-shirt, a Land's End half-zip black fleece top and a pair of classic Stan Smith Adidas sneakers. Sometimes, I'll switch out and wear navy blue instead of black for the long-sleeve t-shirt and half-zip fleece, but I think you get the picture of what I love to wear: comfortable casual clothes.

What is my favorite guilty-pleasure snack food?
My favorite go-to guilty-pleasure snack food that always puts a smile on my face is: Chicago Mix popcorn from Trader Joe's. For those not familiar, Chicago Mix is part salty cheese-flavored popcorn, part classic caramel-flavored popcorn. Throw them together and mix 'em up and you've got one great guilty-pleasure snack food that tastes wonderful.

What kind of music always puts me in a good mood?
I love to listen to music by Pink Martini. This Portland, Ore.-based "little orchestra" is fronted by bandleader and pianist Thomas Lauderdale and it features the vocalists China Forbes and Storm Large. The band's music crosses many genres, including: classical, latin, jazz and classic pop. I've seen Pink Martini perform in concert here in the Bay Area on numerous occasions and their shows are like urban music travelogues. A typical concert includes songs sung in English, French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese and Turkish, among many. As an aside, another reason I like Pink Martini is because they are supportive of liberal political causes such as: civil rights, affordable housing, the environment, libraries, parks, education and public broadcasting. 

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