yours, tiramisu

sports with the elderly

Since I have more time now that I'm at home, I've started playing tennis (mixed doubles) and pickup soccer with my parents' friends. It's a strange experience—although I do enjoy being physically active and playing team sports again, I often feel like the age and cultural gaps (from them growing up in Asia and me in the States) make me a total outcast. I think having one of the two barriers is surmountable, but having both at the same time makes it much more difficult to connect. And we haven't even mentioned the language barrier yet.

The cultural differences, while not completely foreign to me, can still be hard to comprehend at times. The concept of 客气(kè qi) is maybe the hardest one for me to understand. It can mean many things, but in general it's defined as being polite and behaving courteously. The most vivid memories I have of this are my parents fighting with others over who gets to pay the check, which always struck me as a very strange custom. It's as if both parties mutually agree to cause a big ruckus at the end of each meal in a pious show of proving who's the most courteous. At tennis, it manifests itself as arguments over who gets to sit out (because they want to be "polite" and let others play instead of themselves).

I can understand (and even support) the concept of being 客气 or polite to a certain extent, but I feel like many older Chinese people take it way too far. What good does it do if everyone is making up excuses to not play just to be polite? Aren't we all there because we want to play? Why don't we just take turns and leave it at that, instead of wasting time in a big show of Who Can Argue Their Case To Sit Out Most Fervently? Last week a lady (kitted out in knee/elbow sleeves and full tennis garb, no less) tried to argue that she didn't actually want to play. I'm convinced big shows of 客气 like this are, at heart, primarily selfish endeavors, in the same way Rochefoucauld noted1 that people who reject all compliments simply like to hear other people attempt to praise them.

For as old as some of the people I play soccer with are (the oldest of whom is well into his sixties), there are no fewer complaints, arguments, and dirty/selfish plays than I encounter when I play with the kids on my street. It's a reminder that adults are nothing more than overgrown kids, set in their ways. It's much easier for me to gently coach the kids I play with to be better teammates, but I think even if I tried to help some of these old men out they wouldn't take it well.

One of the cruel truths of soccer is that while it's patently easy to see other players' strengths and weaknesses (even if you're not a very good player yourself), it's far more difficult to assess your own performances. At the same time, it's impossible to know what other players are seeing/feeling when they play. Sometimes players will tell me I should have done x instead of y, but if they were in my shoes they would have realized that I only did y because x was impossible from where I was standing. I take all of these realizations to mean that I shouldn't complain about how others play (ever, even if they're playing dreadfully) because you never will have the same information they do, and that I should accept feedback gracefully when it's given to me. This, I think, is what is at the core of being a good teammate: be unselfish and humble.

(I have a lot more thoughts on soccer that I've been mulling for months now. Maybe I'll write a post about what the sport has taught me soon.)


I recently stumbled across a young Bear Blog alternative called Mataroa. It's everything I ever wanted in a blog, and the creator's blogging/website philosophy resonates deeply with me. I'm thrilled to see more options popping up in this space. I wish I had discovered these minimalist blogging platforms earlier in my life so I could have many more years of writing to look back on, but I'm here now and much healthier and happier for it. All I can do now is promote these wonderful young platforms with my peers, and hope that they stick around for the long haul.

To be clear, I'll be sticking with Bear for the time being, since I found it first and feel very much at home here. While there are some things I like better about Mataroa (cheaper premium pricing, free image hosting, comments), I've come to love Bear's Discovery feed. It makes me feel like a part of a bigger community, and it makes wish I could see some other blogs in the Mataroa ecosystem. That being said though, I love the lack of a platform lock-in and robust blog export feature, and I may give it a spin if (god forbid) anything happens to Bear.

One of the beautiful things about minimalist, anonymous blogging platforms like Bear and Mataroa is that it invites vulnerability. It's wonderful to see when people share their stories they might not feel comfortable sharing elsewhere, but on the flipside this also means often seeing really concerning posts on the Discovery feed. Sometimes I wish I could send them an email or even just leave a comment in support, but most blogs don't give those options. If you're reading this, there are people out there reading your writing! You are seen and heard.


I went to my first ever kpop concert this weekend! I'd never heard of the group and only got invited hours before the show started, so I had a lot of questions prior. Do I bring earplugs? (Yes, and you'll be glad you did. As my friends say, it's not the music, but the rabid screaming & barking fans that will hurt your ears.) Will I have to stand? (It depends on who you end up sitting behind.) Even though I knew none of the group's songs or members, I still had a blast. It pays to be that friend who's down for anything, anytime, anywhere.

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  1. He famously wrote, "a refusal of praise is a desire to be praised twice."

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