Happy Thanksgiving!


Even though I am thousands of miles from friends and family today, I am grateful to have the means to stay in contact during my work abroad. Thank you Greenhouse Restaurant for the free wifi.

I am thankful for all the help, encouragement and laughs I’ve had from my friends during the past trying year. I have felt as if I were in limbo for so long and finally am getting a sense of direction in life 🙂

I am thankful for my family, who have been supporting me and my passions, allowing me to find my own way and have a job that I absolutely love doing. And also for not freaking out about my new tattoo 😛

Lastly, I am thankful to be alive, healthy and living a life full of music, food and fun.

Happy Thanksgiving!


p.s. to keep up to date on my cruise adventures, check out my other blog, spinnin’ along and check out my instagram


Sorry for the hiatus…

Dear readers,

Alas, it seems I have broken a few of the resolutions I had set back in January (I’m only human, right?). I know it has been quite some time since my last post and I apologize to you all for the long wait. I attribute the lack of updates to the tumultuous turn my life has taken in the past few months. A lot has happened since the last time I had posted: DJed my first wedding (plus 2 more indian wedding receptions), returned home to Cincinnati to celebrate my little brother’s 15th bday, got offered to sign with a DJ talent agency, finished out my post-baccalaureate program with a 4.0 GPA… and finally, found out that I would NOT be going to medical school this fall. As you can imagine, it’s been a pretty big disappointment that my plan A, a goal which I’ve been working almost half my life towards, did not come to fruition.

To be honest, I have been putting off posting in this blog b/c I knew I could not post an update without at least mentioning this. I needed some time to get my head around things before I was able to really channel how I am feeling on here. Also, I’ve been terribly busy juggling all the craziness that is figuring out my plan for this coming year. So I guess many of my friends are thinking: “What now? Why don’t you just reapply?” I know many people who were not successful their first application cycle and got in on the subsequent tries, yet when faced with this time-sensitive decision, I ask myself, just how bad did I really want it?

I’ve spent many years thinking that being a physician was the job for me, a path I am not afraid to admit was influenced greatly by the wishes of my Asian parents. But despite these external pressures, I still have always had a passion for helping others and combining that with my love for science just made sense to direct myself towards a career in medicine. Even with all this, I have consistently struggled with the question of whether I would be truly be happy as a physician 10-20 years down the road. Up until recently, I tried to avoid coming up with a genuine answer and kept thinking that I would cross that bridge when I got to it. And now here I am in the middle of that bridge, with many options ahead of me and little time to make them.  Having had so many instances of doubt and uncertainty, I have to consider if it is really worth it to grind and fully dedicate myself to something I know will be extremely challenging and may result in a life of dissatisfaction?

It has been a very tough call, but I’ve decided that I will NOT be reapplying to medical school. However, this by no means signifies me “giving up” on my career goals. Not getting into medical school has been the biggest rejection I have ever faced, yet I find that even though the initial days following the news were full of dispair and confusion, I have since risen up with much greater clarity and confidence for what I want in life. So after much soul-searching, I believe that the lifestyle of a medical doctor is just not for me; instead, I have switched gears and am focusing on a related career that I believe I am much better suited for and know I will absolutely love: Physical Therapy. With the exposure I’ve had to the field through all these years of volunteer work, classes, shadowing, research, applying etc. this is the first time I feel like I’ve made a decision solely on my own accord and it feels fantastic. These collective experiences have distilled over time, and left me with what I truly want out of a career in healthcare: to be the personal support and guide for those undergoing the healing process. To me, PT is all about giving someone his or her independence, an aspect which is often taken for granted, yet so crucial to a happy life. Restoring movement and providing comfort to others on a daily basis is something I truly look forward to. Not to mention, the lifestyle and career-track of a PT is much less intense/stressful (in terms of malpractice/responsibility) than that of an MD, which would give me more flexibility to enjoy my other passions. For once, I am genuinely excited and looking forward to the entering this new stage in my life with a definitive plan.  So perhaps this rejection was a blessing in disguise after all…

In any case, this means that I will be staying in St. Louis for another year at least (though Wash U’s PT program is quite awesome – #3 in the country), a city which I have grown to love the past 6 years, however strange that may sound. I finally have a plan, a goal and the drive to get it done, and the fortune of having an awesome interim job that can float me in the meantime! Speaking of which, if you haven’t already checked out my other blog Spinnin’ Along, you may want to keep some tabs on that as I have some VERY EXCITING NEWS (hint) to share soon. Despite a rocky start, I have a feeling this next year is going to be my greatest yet and I cannot wait to share it with you.

And now it’s really time to get this blog going. This break was definitely needed, but I have so much else prepared for bananalife; time to unload!

Until next time,


Damn… it feels good to be a DRAGON!!!

Happy Lunar New Year!

I will admit, the past year of the Hare was pretty rough for me: I experienced quite a few downers – career disappointments, sad family news and the bittersweet end to a long relationship. Additionally, I entered 2012 with a wicked cold, lazy attitude and little motivation. Well, I’m done moping around and feeling sorry for myself; it’s time to bounce back and embrace MY year! THE YEAR OF THE DRAGON!

23 Jan 2012 – 9 Feb 2013: Year of the Water Dragon

This marks a very special year for me (and many of my friends as well). This will be our 3rd cycle year (the number 3 is associated with birth and good health in Chinese culture) and our first dragon year as adults. Additionally, we were all born in ’88; the Chinese word for the number “eight” (八 Pinyin: bā) is considered lucky because it sounds similar to the Chinese word for “prosper” or “wealth” ( – short for “發財”, Pinyin: fā).

According to the chinese zodiac, those born in the year of the dragon are characterized as strong, independent, ambitious and, above all else, passionate individuals that prefer leading rather than being led. They love to take risks and live life in the moment but are often quick to temper. Dragons are said to be compatible with the Monkey and the Rat (my grandparents) and incompatible with the Goat and the Ox (my younger brother, haha).

Anyways, seeing as I skipped out on my resolutions for the Gregorian new year, here are my lunar new year resolutions (8 of them, for good luck!):

  2. Have a solid plan B if number 1 does not turn out as hoped
  3. Update and post in bananalife at least once a week.
  4. Call my grandparents at least once a month and up my Mandarin game.
  5. Lose 10 pounds and maintain it (cliché, I know)! The need to rid myself of the second chin that appears when smiling for pictures is all too serious, my friends (I blame my recently discovered passion for grilled cheese << best recipe ever, btw). This will be achieved by the following 3 resolutions:
  6. Lace up and start running again with a goal of sub 45 min at the 2012 Cincinnati Thanksgiving day 10k race (check 2004 results for my PR).
  7. Stop cooking with butter (sorry Paula Deen)
  8. DANCE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE! Time to train for what looks to be my last Show Me Stylez with my crew Arch Enemies.



p.s. If you’re in the STL area, you should come check out the 2012 LNYF show at Edison Theater this coming Friday and Saturday! I actually choreographed a dance for this show in 2009, definitely a fun time!

A-B-C, easy as 一二三…

欢迎! Welcome to BANANA LIFE!

Inspired by my recent travels to the motherland, I have come to realize that being an American-Born Chinese (ABC) is pretty awesome. Not only does everyone in the western world think you are kung fu master with perfect hair, whenever you visit China, it’s automatically assumed that you are very successful and have friends in hollywood (only half-joking). Nevertheless, juggling between two different cultures has been both a blessing and a burden for us ABCs: though we can get the best of both worlds, most of us forever feel like outcasts in whatever society we are currently in. Additionally, we are often faced with situations where the values of our families don’t quite align with the values of our environment. For me, these moments can be utterly confusing, severely awkward, or painfully embarrassing… but most often than not, they are down right hilarious (retrospectively).

Banana life celebrates these moments I’ve had growing up as an ABC and serves as an outlet for all the fond memories I’ve had and will continue to have with my large and loving family. As I mature, my appreciation for my Chinese heritage has become stronger than ever; and after reconnecting with my extended family recently, I’ve decided it is finally time to record and reflect upon all the wonderful experiences I’ve had over the years. Above all else, I hope you enjoy reading and following along as I reminisce over my childhood and share new experiences yet to come. Perhaps my writing may even inspire you to go back and connect with your own roots. If not, then at least you can openly laugh at my bowl-cut.

Me picking fresh lychee (1995)

The reasons for the name of this blog are two-fold:

  1. Bananas are my all-time FAVORITE fruit. They just taste way too good to be healthy for you. Trust me, the best way to start your day is with nature’s candy bar.
  2. A banana is a term often used to describe an ABC. We’re “yellow on the outside” and “white on the inside.” Another common descriptor is the twinkie. I prefer the healthier option.

After some consideration, I believe the latter reason is a bit misleading now (but ‘banana life’ was way too catchy to pass up). When I was younger, I was no doubt a most exemplary “banana” – I absolutely hated going to chinese school, preferred to eat Happy Meals over “zhōngcān” (chinese food) any day and simply just wanted to fit in with all my white friends. Now, as I am slowly transitioning into adulthood, I am beginning to regret rebelling against my roots so much as a kid. Over the past couple years, I’ve taken a much greater interest in my heritage – taking Chinese language courses in college, speaking mandarin with my family every chance I get and really becoming proud of my culture. Subsequently, I no longer feel completely “white” on the inside nor do I feel completely “yellow” on the outside; rather, my identity has transformed into a hybrid of sorts… maybe “scrambled-egg-life” would have been a more appropriate title? Ah well, I already bought the banana life domain, lol.

My plan for the blog is to start from both ends of my experiences; starting with a recap of my most recent trip to china and alternating with tales of my family history. I’ve already written weeks and weeks worth of content as well as begun scanning a whole bunch of childhood pictures; what I hope to do is post a full-length story each Sunday and pictures/shorts throughout the week (let’s hope I can stick with that!)

I am so excited to share my old photos, memories and future experiences with you. If any of my fellow ABCs would like to contribute their own stories or blogs, please feel free to email me at john@bananalife.me. Please subscribe and enjoy!


-John (黄瑞维)

p.s. Bear with me as I am still testing out blog themes/layouts/fonts. That should all be ironed out soon!