Welcome to THE Village... sort of... not really.

Welcome to the Toisan Lives blog!

Where does the sudden love of Toisan and desire to spread the good language come from? It stems from my childhood, to which I vividly remember conversing with my grandmother. I can still feel the effects of the spit-filled words and funny dialect that no one else could decipher.

Although my Chinese consists mostly of Cantonese, I still love a good conversation in Toisan. However, I have noticed that the language is dying and I am determined to keep it alive. How am I doing this? Most of my friends have relatives with a Toisan background and can understand the language. I speak as often as I can in Toisan to these friends, most notably Christopher Dea. They laugh when I converse with them in Toisan but they will only respond in English. They don't want their Toisan to be heard.

Therefore, I've come up with a great idea. If the good language will not be spoken, it can be expressed on a t-shirt! This will keep Toisan on the map. PLUS, wearing these shirts will bring all sorts of Toisan brothers and sisters together, especially the closeted Toisanese (you know who you are!). Imagine wearing a Toisan Lives t-shirt and meeting someone from the same village as you!

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Do You?

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Got Headache?

Growing up my parents and grandparents often acted as doctors. How? Why? I don't know, but they seem to have a cure for most illnesses. The local Tak Shing Hong gave them this God-like ability to heal all. It was not difficult for them to retrieve herbal medicine and boil it until you get that nasty aroma that causes you to vomit instantly. Apparently Haw Flakes will solve that flavor of a problem. Go figure. The boiled herbal medicine is usually a remedy for your serious and often lingering illnesses. But for your headaches, stomachaches and bruises you can easily take care of that with chinese ointment. My late grandmother in particular always carried around this small bottle of "Bauk Fah Yiu" (white flower oil). Its oily and smelly like most chinese ointments and I'm not too sure if its really made from white flowers (is that even a flower?). My grandmother was often dizzy from watching too many chinese dramas and those long bus rides to and from Chinatown. All she had to do was pull out that small bottle of smelly oil and rub it on her head and she was good to go. Every time I had a stomachache they would rub that stuff over my stomach. Definitely an acquired smell and it also felt a little bit like menthol. I hate to admit it but some of these remedies to do work because they smell and taste so horrible but mostly because I don't like the fact that my parents and grandparents can act like they have the solution to all medical problems.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Inevitable

Growing up, there were countless times I was labeled "moh yoong." I was "moh yoong" for many reasons: dropping my food on the floor, forgetting my homework at home, not doing my chores, watching too much TV, breaking a window, lighting stuff on fire, beating up my brother... etc. But it usually rang loudest when I brought home my report card and attended parent-teacher conferences. Lets just say I was not the scholarly type growing up and my brother was the overachieving type. He had to go and get straight A's all the time, managed to skip a grade and was a usual favorite to most of his teachers. In the eyes of my parents, my future didn't look too bright. They didn't know what to do with me. Heck, I didn't know what to do with myself. I just didn't care enough to work hard. I always managed to get by and I still do. I turned 27 today and I started to think back to all the things I've done since I graduated high school. I was blown away by how much I actually managed to do the last 9 years. I managed to graduate high school and college, maintain a job, and marry an awesome girl who can only say "pai gwut" and nothing else. I guess being "moh yoong" isn't so bad after all.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Cleaning House

As Toisan folk, we all know what this represents. I know it brings back funny yet very painful memories but most of us are better for it now. While the sting still resonates, and the memories of the loose feathers lie on the ugly green carpet after seeing the feather duster in action, I will always attribute my fear of authority to my upbringing.

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Disgusting Habit

My dad is an avid smoker as are most Toisan fathers. I've never seen a Toisan female smoke before now that I think about it. Why do you think that is? I remember as a child I would try to hide my dad's cancer sticks around the house thinking that I would be able to help him prevent lung cancer, and mine while I'm at it. Soon I found out he would just go buy more. It got worse when he started to buy the multipacks at Price Club (what is known as Costco). As much as I love my dad, the smoking needs to go. Not that I'm trying to get you guys to buy this shirt but the word does need to spread. Lets save our Toisan fathers one shirt at a time. Okay, maybe I am trying to get you guys to buy the shirt...

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Home Cooking

Growing up I used to ride my bike in the backyard around my Poh Poh's garden. It was a fun ride maneuvering through the huge winter melons (det gwah), dates lain out on the ground to dry, and most importantly, the stinky salted fish that hung from the clothesline.

Does this remind you of the Village? Yes, the San Gabriel Valley can be quite similar to Toisan.

Hom ngui is good old Toisan comfort food. It may be stinky, but it tastes delicious. There is nothing like it! I sure miss my Poh Poh.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Live From San Francisco.... and Canada

After visiting my blog for the first time my buddy Taylor Lin, the Toisan enthusiast, asked me to create a shirt of San Francisco. I thought what a good idea this is since there are so many Toisan folks up there. I remember the countless hours of driving up to San Francisco to visit my Toisan relatives while growing up and getting some of that delicious 'Jackson Market beef jerky'.

I also threw one in for 'Chinatown' and 'Canada' for fun. Hope you get a kick out of it.

Feel free to contact me if you have suggestions on new designs.

(To view large size, click on above image)