Hey there! I'm Vivian. Sometimes I write about life and sometimes I write about teaching.

I recently came across this tweet from educator and author Kelly Gallagher:

I love this idea so much I thought I’d use it myself. This monthly column features celebrities sharing 10 cultural items they can’t live without. I’m sure if I thought about it a little longer some of these might get bumped out by something more significant, but I think there’s something to be said for the first things that come to mind.

Here are my 10:

1. The Sound of Music
My sisters and I have watched this movie in the double digits. We watched it every year as kids, usually around Christmas even though it has nothing to do with the holiday. Somehow it just became a tradition for us. When Christopher Plummer passed away, we wondered if they should show it to their kids in his honor. (The answer was ultimately no. Turns out three might be too young.) When The Sound of Music sing-a-long began to be a regular event at the Hollywood Bowl, my husband had to sing along with me more times than he probably cared to.
2. Jason Mraz
I was going to add “music” after his name, but Jason Mraz is more than his music to me. While I have seen him live more times than I can remember and more times than my husband cared to (are you sensing a pattern), I’ve come to admire him for the good that he does for others and his infectious positivity. And what’s not to like about an avocado farmer?
3. The Goonies
Just like most movies I loved from the 80s, this one has its share of problematic scenes and lines. But I loved so many things about this movie: the friendship, the adventure, the sticking-it-to-the-man plot. To do this day my partner and I find random opportunities to say, “Goonies, never say die!”
4. Broadway musicals
One of the few positive memories I have of my biological mother is going with her to see the musical Evita. I think I was only 12 years old and didn’t quite understand everything happening, but I loved the music and drama so much. From that day on, I was hooked. As a senior, one of my friend’s parents took us to see The Phantom of the Opera. When I got to college my roommate was a Phantom fan and we would take advantage of student rush tickets to watch it when we didn’t have other weekend plans. I later became a Renthead and have seen the musical Rent at least 10 times.
5. Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me
I confess that for a long time this NPR game show is how I got my news. Years ago they did a live recording in Pasadena. I got tickets and to our delight, George Takei was the guest. It was such a fun night.
6. Stand up comedy
Here’s another confession: I have a secret dream to be a stand-up comic. Being the “funny one” in the group doesn’t really qualify me though. Some of my favorite comedians: Dave Chappelle, Ali Wong, Eliza Shlesinger, Chris Rock, Tig Notaro. It runs the gamut! I think laughter really can be the best medicine.
7. Ramen
As kids we often ate ramen from a cup as an afternoon snack; my mom would jazz it up with fresh vegetables and condiments. But as an adult I enjoy eating the real deal on a cold evening or a warm day, when I’m feeling sick or when I’m feeling fine. It’s one of the ultimate comfort foods for me.
8. The Daily Show
At one point I was sure Jon Stewart would be my third husband. (Don’t tell my current partner!) I love the smart humor, the critique of…everything, the politics. And let’s be honest, Trevor Noah as my third husband wouldn’t be a bad option either.
9. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tam
One of the few books I’ve read more than once, this book was the first one I ever read with characters like me in them.
10. Craft cocktails
I like making them and I like drinking them! Top 3: old fashioned, margarita, and a cucumber gimlet. During lockdown, while other people were making banana bread, I was honing my mixology skills. We found that we saved a lot of money when we couldn’t go out to restaurants and order expensive drinks anymore. And now we can just make them at home. Cheers!

  1. This was a fun slice! I also LOVE the Sound of Music and find myself watching it yearly around Christmas. I loved a lot of your other things too, I’ll have to think of my 10!

  2. A great list (Jason Mraz farms too? Cool!) We are also fans of the Sound of Music and went to Vermont to see the VonTrapp house there. Now I’m thinking of my ten to write about.

  3. This is a great list. I will have to think of my ten! I also love Sound of Music and we have watched it hundreds of times….no kidding. Especially when our oldest (now 26) was a toddler. It was almost a daily occurance!

  4. I like how you take others’ writing ideas and make them your own. It’s inspiring, and I’m going to give it a try.

  5. TammyB says:

    Love this idea! Kelly always has such great resources and mentor texts!

  6. arjeha says:

    What a great list. My aunt started taking me to Broadway musicals when I was still in elementary school and I haven’t stopped going since.

  7. WOWilkinson says:

    Thanks for sharing. This would be a great way to get to know our students and help them get to know each other.

  8. I love this idea! It would be so fun to see what the kids’ top 10 are!

  9. Lisa Corbett says:

    What a fun list! I connect with many of the things on your list. I think of Sound of Music regularly, and do the same with Goonies. πŸ™‚ I would replace Jason Mraz with Rob Thomas, and Craft Cocktails with cookies.

  10. I like this kind of challenge but rarely take time to follow through and complete them. You’ve inspired me to perhaps give it a try.

  11. What a fun way to get to know students in the beginning of the year. A bit of a challenge with Kindergarten writers (LOL!), but I still love it. And I’ll have an American Mule. Thanks for asking! πŸ™‚

  12. amyilene says:

    I love this list….AND we are currently watching “The Goonies”!

  13. Lainie Levin says:

    First of all? I am TOTALLY stealing this idea for some of my kiddos. I also seem to have a lot in common with you: a secret desire to run stand-up, a love for “Goonies,,” the cravings for ramen (which I’ve learned to make…I’m never looking back).

  14. Like many others, I feel a theft of this slice coming on! Both to my own blog and possibly my students, this is some good stuff here! A cucumber gimlet? Not sure of that one, but our frozen strawberries in our margaritas? Delicious!

    Thanks for this is awesome slice! πŸ™‚

  15. […] Haley’s ethereesMs. Chen’s “My Ten” post (along with her time-bending post, borrowed from Fran McVeigh)Britt’s and […]

  16. aggiekesler says:

    I really like this idea for a slice…it reveals a window into who you are. I love The Joy Luck Club so much!



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