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  • Melissa Orquiza

Pandan Chia Seed Pudding, Why Pianists Problem Solve & Guitarists Can Read Your Mind

Updated: Apr 23, 2021

Pandan Chia Seed Pudding Slideshow

Pandan Chia Seed Pudding, A Scholarship for Nothing, “What’s Your Brain Wearing?”,

Why Pianists Problem Solve & Guitarists Can Read Your Mind

When I was 18, I went out with a good looking, tall, and smart musician. I had just graduated from my all girl high school (with extremely strict parents) and so I didn’t quite know what to make of all of this (last time I saw guys was in junior high). He was extremely thoughtful and would buy me beautiful flowers and stuffed animals. Then (as now), I would show up looking feminine in a flowery dress, hair and makeup, tasteful jewelry, looking like the considerate, well-bred conservative girl from the private school and family I was from. I was excited to be taken out but somewhat confused (more like clueless) to how the real world worked (since I was sequestered like a nun).

Bred on a strict diet of being seen but not heard, I’d listen, smile, laugh and giggle into my hand at his jokes and misunderstandings. I didn’t really speak much, but when I did, I tried to be kind and witty, and again, “femininely” polite. (It wasn’t an act. I’m still mainly like that. It’s like riding a culturally confused bike.) One night, after dinner, in his car, he got quiet, smiled, and asked me what I was thinking. I replied, “What do you mean?” He asked insistently, “What are you thinking about? What are you thinking about right now? What are your thoughts?”

Bewildered, I said, “Nothing. I’m not thinking of anything.” (Um. That was weird.) Trying to diffuse the awkwardness, I took out some lipstick, (Aveda, warm pink with gold, peppermint), and started applying it in the car mirror. I smiled. ("Was it because I was so quiet? What did I do?") I thought that was the end of it. Nope.

Next time we went out, it happened again, in the car, after dinner. This time, he asked with a sly look in his face, then lightly touching my forehead with his index finger. “What are you thinking about?” OMG. (Ok. This is creeping me out. "Why is he demanding to be in my thoughts? I’m already here with him. What did I do? Why is he touching my forehead? That felt oddly nice. Does he want me to say I’m thinking about him? What’s wrong with this guy? Does he want me to profess my undying love? That he’s a musical genius? That he’d be an amazing conductor and composer? Did he want me to say that he's the most amazing, hot guy I've ever seen? I'm confused.")

I said the same thing, afraid I’d hurt his feelings. “Nothing.” I smiled, thoroughly confused and starting to panic. (No sudden movements. They sense weakness.) He asked again. “No, really. What are you thinking about?” (I swear this wasn’t after any hanky panky.) What do I do to shut him up? Do I make out with him?

Smiling with my sweet pink dress and wondering if I should get a compact and reapply my lipstick, this time with a retractable lip brush…to TAKE UP TIME, thinking: "Why are you trying to take over my thoughts? Are you a control freak that needs to dominate my head? Do you do this to all the women you date? Is he taking care of me like the stuffed animals he gives me? Aww… so sweet but kinda weird. Is this chivalry? Wait, is the act of being coddled, chivalry? Ooh. I like being coddled. I must like chivalrous men. (Damn it. I am a girly girl.) Wait, does that mean I’m not a feminist?"

My husband, in all the years I have known him, has never asked me, in a moment of silence (or insecurity), “What are you thinking about?” (ie. "You are mine. Even your head is mine. ALL THE TIME.") He’s asked, “What DO you think?,” which implies something else entirely. I’m (somewhat) scared of what’s in his head (math equations and video games) so I don’t need to ask… nor is it my business. He thinks it’s akin to, “What’s your brain wearing?”

Needless to say, although he was tall, good looking, a talented musician, had good taste in food, thoughtful, and smart, trying to dominate my head, (well, he was training to be a conductor) was not really something I was into. He can happily BDSM someone else’s thoughts. (No judgements. Just not for me.)

So, I laughed when I saw this article. A Fine Arts University in Hamburg is giving a scholarship “For Doing Nothing” with the hopes that their plan to not take action would be consequential and beneficial to humanity. (Hey! It’s like my dates with the aspiring conductor/composer.) The professor created it in hopes of students to strive for a “lack of consequences” rather than success, pointing to the ecological crisis, money, growth, and social injustice as direct results of priorities gone awry. Philosophically fascinating.

A Scholarship for Doing Nothing

I’d like to think that musicians and artists, inadvertently, embody that. Everyone loves the product (quarantine playlists), is in love with the idea of the passionate musician toiling away (if it isn’t music, we must be doing something else) and success is measured mostly internally (because most are smart enough to do something else).

Here’s a fascinating article on how pianists’ brains are more efficient at problem solving and are naturally inclined to look at the bigger picture and syntax rather than specific “words” or “phrases.” (Btw, both my husband and I play the piano. Is this why we both didn’t care what we were thinking individually? “What’s your brain wearing?”)

Piano Players Brains

On the flip side, here’s why guitarists can read your mind. (Obviously, the conductor/ composer was not a guitarist.)

Guitarists can read your mind

Here’s how they tortured the poor guitarists to see how their minds worked. Activities include showing them letters, rotating pictures and playing wrong chords. (That’s mean!) Omg. Isn’t that what they do in kindergarten?

Why learning guitar is different from learning other instruments

Don't worry, I'll do drummers, string players, and more in the future! During quarantine, piano and guitar seem like the most commonly played instruments, so I'd thought I'd prepare any unsuspecting singles from love-bombing music videos.

I hope these articles made you laugh, look at the world differently, (“What’s your brain wearing?”) and help you interact with that silly musician that you know, that’s probably too messed up in the head to talk to you or confide in you (or the opposite, since most have a mild form of OCD). If there’s a topic or piece of music you’d like me to discuss, please feel free to contact me. I’m always up for new ideas. Here's to more laughter and happiness. Thanks for reading! xo Melissa

Yes… I went there. Musicians, hands… because we all could use a good laugh. I dare you to pose and pout like her without cracking up.

Divinyls - I Touch Myself (Official Video)

Here’s a beautiful, nuanced performance of the original Prelude No. 4 by Chopin. I love her LH control (most play it too hard, beating like a metronome) balanced with emotion and her sense of urgency. A prime example of simplicity evoking primal emotion, the descending voice leading and common tone resolutions are an elegant solution to “too many notes.”

Chopin wanted this played at his funeral along with the Mozart Requiem. (Isn’t that an example of efficient problem solving?) Its resonance is timeless and is still licensed in tv and film today. Check out the classical music trolls in the comments sections talking about the coughing during the performance.

Khatia Buniatishvili - Chopin - Prelude No 4 in E minor, Op 28

Chopin and Jimmy Page.

Jimmy Page Prelude No 4 in E minor, Op 28

I think a lot of us are feeling this way right now. That rain looks positively salubrious in fire and smoke ravaged California. (I’d kill to be able to run outside right now.) Please check out his solos.

Performance by Gary Clark Jr. - When My Train Pulls In

Billy Joel spans multiple genres and was trained as a classical pianist at the age of 4. Here’s a sweet offering to counter the intensity. Perfect for making your boo dinner or pouring that glass of wine for your Zoom date or yourself.

Billy Joel - Just The Way You Are (from Old Grey Whistle Test)

Contrary to popular belief, there are a lot of DJs and EDM artists that are “trained” musicians. (You can usually tell by the structure of their music, oftentimes, but usually a variant of, Intro- A-B-A-B-C-A- Cadenza.) It’s especially indicative in the structure of their shows. Like Billy Joel, Zedd is a classically trained musician who started playing piano at 4. Here’s the talented Hailee Steinfeld and Zedd.

Hailee Steinfeld, Grey - Starving ft. Zedd (Official Video)

And finally, here’s the legendary Oscar Peterson (playing on a Bosendorfer? What?). Please try to listen to the whole piece but my favorite part is past the intro when he starts riffing invention style, at 3:40. It’s like molecular gastronomy. Brain and body blown…

Salute to Bach - Oscar Peterson Trio

Pandan Chia Pudding

adapted from “Chia Pudding with Kiwi, Blackberries, Apricots & Pomegranate” from Williams Sonoma’s, “The Breakfast Bible,” by Kate McMillan

If you’re unfamiliar with pandan and how to cook with it, here’s a great article.

Pandan Chia Seed Pudding


1 cup almond milk, coconut milk or a combination (I used coconut milk because that’s what I had on hand.)

1/4 cup chia seeds

2 Tbsp Pure Maple Syrup

3 Tbsp Pandan Simple Syrup (recipe afterwards)

1 tsp vanilla extract

Whatever fruit you have on hand to top


  1. In a covered container, stir together the coconut milk (almond milk or combination), chia seeds, maple syrup, pandan simple syrup and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

  2. Stir the chia mixture and let stand at room temperature until the seeds are plumped, about 10 minutes. Divide the mixture among 4 serving bowls and arrange your choice of fruit. Drizzle with more pandan simple syrup if desired.

Pandan Simple Syrup

I kind of improved this so go ahead and riff on it.


You can use a 1:1 ratio or 2:1 - I used 1 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar (so I could control the sweetness.)

Frozen Pandan Leaves (I couldn’t find fresh ones and I didn’t have the extract). I used about 3-4 leaves. I usually err on more because fresh and frozen pandan has such a delicate flavor. Just play with it!

  1. Defrost pandan leaves. At room temperature, tie them into knots or leave as is. You’ll be squeezing the flavor out of it after the simple syrup is done.

  2. Add pandan leaves, sugar, and water. Boil until the sugar dissolves. Let cool to room temperature with the pandan leaves. Squeeze the juice out of the pandan leaves at least three times before straining out of simple syrup mixture. Enjoy!

Thanks for reading! I hope this makes you laugh and helps spark some happiness!

xo Melissa

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