Mirai no Stephen

Hello all,

Today is November 22nd, 2018, which means a couple things to me. First, it’s Thanksgiving! I’m celebrating the United States’ radical derecolonization by going to music skills seminar in the motherland at the University of Cambridge. Speaking of colonialism, this day also marks the 55th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

Don’t be fooled. I am no US history buff. I only know this because I google “JFK assassination” every once in a while to figure out my mother’s birthday. Happy birthday Mom! I’m sorry this year’s present is an irreverent blog post, and I’m sorry that this was late.

— Love, 豆豆

Hailed by me as “the most impressive art-object to ever grace this planet in the last 22 years” (Ai, 2018), Mamoru Hosoda’s Mirai no Mirai (未来のミライ) is a charming tale about a 4 year-old boy, Kun, who struggles to accept dethronement from his only-child supremacy by his newborn baby sister, Mirai. Through a series of magical time-travelling experiences in his home’s front courtyard, Kun learns to cope with his existential angst and accept new responsibilities. Go watch it, for my sake.

–Movie Spoilers Below–

Although every single time-travelling encounter of the movie caused my impartial, musicologically-trained heart to quiver with the beginnings of emotional maturity, one in particular stuck with me.

Kun, after getting scolded by his mother for not cleaning up his toys, time-travels to the past and hangs out with his mother as a child. An energetic and opinionated girl, she drags him into her home, where she loudly proclaims that “everything is more fun when it’s messy”. Together, the two run through the house laughing and leave a path of destruction in their wake. Kun learns to forgive his mother.

Here’s what I was thinking while witnessing this scene:

1. I cringed watching the kids make a mess during the scene.
2. Oh god, am I becoming a prude?
3. Oh god, am I becoming my mom?
4. I immediately turned to lament this revelation to my friend during the movie and stopped myself. Redirecting my attention back to the movie, I realized that Kun had already returned to reality and I had missed crucial screen action. I turned to ask my friend what had happened and stopped myself.
5. Oh god, I have become my mom.

I have been told all my life that I am a carbon copy of my father, albeit shorter, stupider and fatter. While I inherited my father’s physical features and strange sense of humor, I am way too neurotic and nervous to come anywhere close to embodying Bing Ai’s aggressive grace. Our similarities have become less and less apparent as I enter adulthood.

I instead have become more and more like my mom. We have the same eyebrows, and a full head of soft, dark hair. We are very chatty. We like to cook. We actively seek out new hobbies. We have the same laugh. We love complaining, especially about people. We have a short temper. We obsess over small details at the expense of the big picture. We take on responsibilities when no one asks us to do so and get angry when people don’t immediately respond with gratitude.

My version of Kun’s time-travelling encounter with my mom would take place at a planning committee meeting for a cultural affinity organization, convened to organize a logistically-complicated event with many guests and food. Dismayed by the lack of structure and bureaucracy, we return home and complain about everyone in the committee to my brother, Michael, and my dad (who are also coincidentally having a time-travelling encounter). Michael and Dad are confused and go for a run with the dogs.

One final way my mother and I are similar is that we refuse to explicitly admit failures. The jelly cake recipe that I had planned, inspired by a cake from Mirai no Mirai à la Binging with Babish, will be “postponed until further notice”. Instead, here’s a timeless classic I learned from my mom.

Stir-fried Eggs and Tomatoes
feeds a Chinese-American for the next three meals who has eaten this every day for the past year after moving out because they can’t cook anything else

4 large eggs
3 medium tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 scallion, chopped
0.5 cup (4 tbsp) cooking oil
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tsp salt, to taste
2 tsp sugar, to taste

1. Beat eggs with 1 tsp salt until even. Did Ben book the room for our League viewing party this weekend? 
2. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a pan, add eggs and scramble partially, until ~80% of the egg is solid. Remove from heat and set aside. Knowing Ben, probably not. Although I did message him to do it only 10 minutes ago. I’ll just do it myself and send the entire club board group chat a passive-aggressive message. No, not a message. Too aggressive. A sticker. Perfect. 
3. Heat on high 2 tbsp oil in a saucepan or wok, and add scallions. Fry until fragrant. Add tomatoes and 1 tsp salt. Cover and reduce heat to medium. After the tomatoes have released their juices, add sugar and ketchup (classic Shanghai) and combine. I should bake cookies for everyone that comes. Do people want to drink? I’m so busy and so tired. Where are my keys? I need coffee. When is rehearsal? I feel sick. Do I have cancer? I need to do laundry. Where is my phone?
4. Add scrambled eggs. Cover and reduce to medium low. Simmer for 2 minutes. I probably shouldn’t eat all of this. Where is my ID card?

Music Recommendation:
Noname – Cherrypie Blues

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