Day 228: No Pain, No Gain

Toward the end of my volunteer shift last night at the silent auction, I received two Facebook notifications.

A friend had tagged me in a post. Another commented on said post saying, “Hahaha love it!”

Without needing to check what this post was about, I knew. Someone finally nominated me for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

For weeks now, videos of people dumping buckets of ice and water on themselves have been bombarding Facebook feeds. Would anyone nominate me? Would I do it?

When I finally received a nomination, all I could think about was how I had the convention gala to attend later the next day, so dumping a bucket of ice water on me wouldn’t exactly be a convenient start to the day. Still, after sleeping on it, I woke up this morning ready for the challenge. I waited until my dad came home from his morning work shift to help me dump the bucket on me. It’s true I could have done it myself but I knew he would add at least some entertainment to an otherwise standard challenge video.

Little did I know, he would randomly cry out before dumping the water just below my head, missing most of my head—which then resulted in me frustratedly telling him so. The end result was a hilarious video that my family and friends seemed to love. My mom, especially, was literally in tears from laughing so hard at my dad’s yelling. As soon as that was over, I felt so glad that I did it. The automatic screenshot on Facebook was perfectly timed, right at the moment when my dad dumped the ice water on me.

Ice bucket challenge reaction
Reaction to my ice bucket video on Facebook.

Now onto the last day of AAJA 2014!

Even though my volunteer shift did not begin until 4 p.m., I figured I would spend the afternoon in D.C., doing what I do best—exploring food hotspots and blogging (I had so much blogging to catch up on, thanks to AAJA taking up most of my days).

Arriving in D.C. just in time for lunch, I parked at the same parking lot as yesterday, even though I knew that I wouldn’t be back until way past 7 p.m., when the lot was supposed to “close.” Oh, well. I was fine yesterday, and I refuse to pay an extra $40 for hotel valet.

In my mom’s new flats that seemed pretty comfortable, I walked through Chinatown on 7th Street to an Asian-inspired teahouse with great reviews on Foursquare—but quite frankly, I’ve come to the point where I overly rely on these reviews. Sometimes, using it can be a great way to find amazing places, such as the Chinatown Coffee Company yesterday. But then there are times like these when I come to my senses and realize I as an individual should be making my own decisions, too.

I really wanted to like Teaism. People raved about its bento boxes, bubble tea, and Moroccan mint tea. Of course, I had to check this place out.

What did I get? Exactly what I saw in the reviews, except for the other highly recommended salty oat cookie. Having tried Moroccan mint tea in Shanghai, I was expecting a sweet and delicious drink. What I got was an okay semi-sweet mint tea that even another reviewer said should be sweeter.

The only redeeming aspect were the tapioca pearls. Hands down, they are the softest and best pearls I have ever had. I don’t regret trying the Moroccan mint tea, but I know the drink would have been much better with the classic black milk tea.

Moroccan mint tea with boba at Teaism
Moroccan mint tea with boba—I would have preferred black milk tea but the boba was the best I’ve ever had.

Now onto the bento box…man, why didn’t I just look at the other items on the menu that sounded infinitely better and much more difficult to screw up? Such as Thai chicken curry or grass-fed beef burger?!

I should have looked at the photos on Foursquare of these “bento boxes” to know that they are unsatisfying, poor Americanized versions. The salmon was cold. The seaweed rice tasted good but the actual rice was hard. Nothing else is worth mentioning.

Salmon bento box at Teaism
Salmon bento box was a disappointment.

Would I return? Probably not. I would only come back for the bubble tea and to try the cookie. Maybe.

After such a disappointing meal in a place that did not even have WiFi for me to catch up on my blogging, I walked toward the Renaissance Hotel to use its WiFi in the lobby before my shift began.

Unfortunately, I soon felt pain in my feet. These shoes were not comfortable after all. You would think that after too many instances of pain from wearing new shoes (and just common sense not to do so), especially on long days, that I would have learned my lesson. Nope. When I sat down in a booth at the lobby, I pealed off my flats only to be shocked at how the back of my feet were bleeding.

After a few hours of catching up on blogging, I decided to head to the bathroom before meeting the other volunteers. As soon as I got up, the pain I felt on my feet was unbearable. I almost couldn’t even walk. I had to tiptoe to and from the bathroom. That was how embarrassingly painful it was.

I asked two people at the front desk for two bandages, and thankfully, after putting them on, I could at least walk without tiptoeing. I definitely still limped a bit. Only five more hours to go…

Asking us to be there at 4 p.m. was completely unnecessary. After less than half an hour of prepping us and assigning roles and placing a program on each of the 500 seats inside the ballroom (took no time at all with so many people helping), we had almost two hours basically sitting around, chatting, using the photo booth, and doing nothing else until people started arriving at 6:30 p.m. for the 7 p.m. event.

AAJA New York's Instagram of #AAJA14 volunteers

AAJA 2014 photo booth AAJA 2014 gala

The rest of the night was a blur. It felt surreal to be able to sit in the same room as some of the most talented and respected journalists and writers in the country (including Jose Antonio Vargas). Even actor Maulik Pancholy (Wikipedia: “known for his recurring role as Sanjay Patel on Weeds, his role as Jonathan on 30 Rock, voice acting as Baljeet Tjinder in Phineas and Ferb, and as Neal during the first season of Whitney“) sat down on stage for an interview. I don’t watch anything that he’s on, but I’m sure fans at the convention were stoked.

Jose Antonio Vargas at AAJA 2014

In the middle of dinner service, I noticed that Phil Yu sat at the table next to mine. So that’s something.

The annual karaoke party followed, and I had slight regrets not staying to at least watch for a bit, but I saw some Instagram videos later—and let’s just say I felt better about not staying.

Next year’s convention will be in San Francisco, which is a fantastic city full of amazing Asian food 🙂 Not sure where I’ll be next year around that time but I’ll definitely keep AAJA in mind!