Friday, March 17, 2017

Eulogy for My Grandpa

I took a $220 one way flight to San Jose about a month ago to visit my grandpa because my mom texted me that he didn't have much time left.  Frantic, I bought a ticket and landed 5 hours later after begging the airline to let me on earlier fearing that I would miss him.  But when I arrived my mom told me that he is eating again.  But it wasn't a wasted trip.  It was a trip to say good bye.  I held his hand and told him that I loved him, wondering if he even recognize because of his Alzheimer's.  I watched my mom affectionately rest her hand on his head.  Every day for the past year she would visit him at the nursing home.  She would wash his linens and help feed him.  She would make friends with the staff to ensure that he was treated well.  

But now that he passed, she is relived.  Only burdened by the funeral that she planned months in advance with no siblings to help her.   I'm currently on the bus to San Jose and I've written a simple eulogy.  My dad told me that I would be saying a prayer and that I should prepare "something nice" to say about my grandpa in English while my mom did her in Vietnamese.

This is my eulogy:

My grandfather didn't need much to be happy.

He was an amazing gardener growing giant squash that hung in our patio.  He grew chilis that would be used for dinner. He liked plants so much that he would go on walks and pick them from the neighbor's yard until one day he was caught.

He didn't say much, but he was the type grandfather that would walk me and Shannon to school when I was young and sit quietly observing the people around him.

When he smiled it was bright, but probably because he had the best looking dentures.

He would pick things off the street and recreate them into something new.  Bend wires into some contraption.  My mom told me that it was a habit of his.  Because that's how he survived in Vietnam.  Find, recreate, build... never waste.   He taught me that nothing should be thrown away if it could be reused in a different way.  And that's how you make a lot out of very little.

And this is probably why he lived this long despite being so deaf that you have scream into his good ear.  Despite being so blind that he couldn't recognize me.  He found other ways to create a life out of nothing.

But he knew that it was his time to go and to be reinvented into something else. Thank you for being here to celebrate his life with our family. 

My last four Christmases with him:





Sunday, January 29, 2017

These Asian Men Make Me.....

Ryan Ryoo from Common Souls makes me shiver with chills

Trọng Hiếu makes me dance in my room

... his German version is pretty sexy

Hayden Szeto makes me uncomfortable because he's a 30 year old actor playing a high schooler which MAY be the reason why they never had him kiss the protagonist which is completely unfair because she makes out with the other boy.  Can Asian guys just be sexual?

Marko Germar makes me um... "I'm thirsty boy..."

Jordan Andino makes me so hungry

Jordan Yeoh makes me throw up when I tried this routine

Following up on my last post, I decided to make my own list of Sexy Asian Men that are Breaking the Internet that You Need to Know RIGHT Now... you know, to help empower the community.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

California Privilege as a Gaysian American

When Steve Harvey joked that Asian men were undateable I was unaffected.  It's like when people tell small penis jokes.  Roll my eyes and sympathize, honey, you have no clue.  If you're going to make a race joke, make it clever and WITTY.  Like a drag queen.

And then these articles started surfacing:

16 Stunning Photos That Shatter Society’s Stereotypes About Asian Men
21 Gorgeous Asian Men Guaranteed To Make You Thirsty
21 Fine-As-Hell Asian Men Who Will Make You Swoon And Then Some
Asian Men are Reclaiming Their Masculinities on Their Own Terms

And I just had it.  In a Facebook comment I wrote:

Over it. If you don't think Asian Men are attractive, there are about 20 billion people who do. We don't need to reclaim, prove, or break the internet for anyone. And if people need these type of articles to validate themselves, then ya'll gotta stop looking at Abercrombie ads and hanging out in non-diverse spaces.

I can easily say this because I live in California and I've never felt like a minority growing up.  I have resources to create and build a place where I feel comfortable and surround myself with likeminded people - asian, gay... gay and asian.  I've never felt alone in my identity. To have this is a privilege.  "You are a stronger more confident man than most of us sir." As a friend put it, but it's because I can and I need to have some compassion for Asian Americans who never heard of this sort of community in America and need this empowerment.

But then I read shit like this from another POV. "Many of my gay Asian friends have mentioned that they wish they were white so dating would be easier."


No no no!!!!  This self hate, this shame, this white worship makes me vomit in my mouth.  Makes my bones rattle with anger.  You are entitled to be attracted to who ever you want, but when it costs you your identity then, honey, we have a problem.

As I was complaining to my friend, he pointed out other things outside of dating that related to the racism people experience being a minority.  Situations where their life was endanger or that opportunities were taken away from them.  With personal experience, he said something that resonated:

"I don't fault any Asian who gives away their Asianness to survive."

And there it is.  Feeling safe was never an issue for me.  Having my voice heard was never an issue for me.  Finding a date was never an issue for me.  Being judged for what I ate, wore or sounded like was never an issue.  I could just live and thrive and be happy and that's a privilege that I need to remind myself to never take for granted.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Reflection on 2016

It's unfortunate that it's human nature for us to remember negative things more vividly than positive.  Which is why for most, 2016 felt like such a terrible year.  It was an interesting year for me as well.  More of a contemplative year and as we reach the end of it I'm feeling like I understand more about myself and what I want and what I value.  But I feel like that happens every end of year.

Every long weekend has been an adventure.  Jimmy initiates it, and I run with it.  And with every destination we always conclude that we will come back.  Someone once told me that it's not worth it to travel when you have such a short amount of time, but I've come to appreciate the opposite.   We do everything is the shortest amount of time and budget ourselves $1,600 per trip per person which includes airfare.

New Zealand
Holiday: Memorial Day Weekend (May 24-30)
Adventures: Zip lining, luge racing, glow worms cave tubing and Hobbitown
Return for: South island's Milford Sound
Food: Like crappier American food, but the Chicken in hipper town Ponsonby was great!
Low point: Aukland - like a sad Seattle

Holiday: 4th of July (July 4 - 13)
Adventures: Waterfalls, glacier hike and huge road trip around the island
Return for: Kirkjufell & Kirkjufellsfoss Peninsula, natural hot springs hike Reykjadalur and northern lights
Food: Our travel mate Carlos cooked us amazing meals in our camper.  Tuna cakes, omelettes and pastas from scratch!
Low point: realizing we didn't how enough time/gas to do the peninsula and getting a sleeper camper that didn't work at the beginning, but we returned it just in time!

Holiday: Thanksgiving (November 21 - 28)
Adventures: Greatest hits tour!  Hanoi, Sa Pa, Ha Long Bay, Hue, Da Nang, Hoi An, Sai Gon.  Seeing friends and family and doing 8 hour motorbike tour on Imodium.
Return for: the 30 restaurants that I bookmarked and this hidden building full of coffee shops Tuyet-Anh told me about in Sai Gon.  Egg Coffee in Ha Noi
Food: Ha Noi dishes: Bun Cha, Pho Chien and Hue food.
Low Point:  Travelers diarrhea half way through!

And with all this travel, you'd think that we have all these points or something.  But this is where we fail and probably had a lot of missed opportunities to get free flights.  Is there a consultant on this?

It took me 11 months to fit into my new job that I started in January.  The culture, the resources, the environment, the coworkers, the management, the product and the clients.  It all took getting used to, but now I'm comfortable because I get it now.  I understand how it all works and I'm appreciating it.  But I still don't like to tell people where I work because of preconceptions that they may develop.  My job does not reflect my values or my personality.  So if you ask me what I do, I will continue to say "advertising" and then change the topic to food.

My mom has finally accepted the fact that my grandpa is getting older and she finally allowed a senior nursing home to take care of him.  To lift the burden that she feels as an only child.  She's able to go on trips and enjoy life instead of being sad how he's aging and how she's going to age.  My parents are religious and liberal -  this allows me to have open conversations with them about religion, politics and sexuality.  I'm very fortunate in that sense because I grew up comfortable.  And so these "my parents never said I love you" or "people made fun of my packed lunches in school" articles don't resonate with me.  Any way, family is doing well.  Dad has high blood sugar.  Grandpa didn't recognize me during Christmas and my brother is chugging along at school and work.  There's nothing more I could possibly ask for.

The request for us to vacate the house was the biggest thing on my mind this year, but it's time to move out to something nicer.  A place without leaks or ants or plumbing issues.  During our last Christmas party, it felt like a celebration.  Like - we've had great 8 Christmas parties, but we've all grown up and it's time to shift our focus and enjoy different parts of life outside of this community that revolved around this house.  I thought I would cry when I started the white elephant game that involved 40 people, but It was all good vibes.  And as everyone left one by one, I could not help but feel an amazing sense of closure.  Plus we got an extension and won't have to leave until June 2017.  So we'll worry about it then and I'll continue to build on my virtual garage sale on OfferUp.

My goal is to be at 150lb which I came really close to this year.  But I'm always around 155 and now 157 because of the holidays, but I'm feeling good.  My addiction to cheese is now replaced with my addition to milk tea which is full of sugar and extremely over priced.  But I have to continue reducing.  If there's anything I miss, it's my metabolism.   For dinner I cook a solid salmon + tomato + parmesan.  I also did a great lemongrass beef which I'll try over veggies.

It seems like 2016 was a good year for me personally.  And I'm excited to do it again in 2017!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Another Sunday Gaysian Conversation About Dating

Here I am at Stories Bookstore in Echo Park after Jimmy left me to see his family in the Inland empire as usual.  Sundays after breakfast are reserved for personal time.  I sat down at Stories' patio and immediately saw a familiar gaysian face.    What is this unrealized super hero power that I have that prevents me from doing things alone?  Thank you.

I chatted with my friend for 30 minutes about this guy that he has a "labelless" relationship with and how it torments him.   He started dumping on me and I enjoyed it. Tell me about your job, tell me about your home, tell me about your dating life.  Let my extrovert self absorb your energy and give me life.

I engaged and told him that sometimes suppressing it can make it worse.  Unfollowing, blocking... really forcing the guy to just disappear from your eyes and hopefully disappear from your mind isn't always helpful since your consciously doing it.  If we could control our thoughts and emotions, our lives would be much more productive.  So just let it happen... follow them back on social media because you're checking his page daily and just let reality kick in with time.  But this "relationship" with this guy has been going on for 5 years now... sounds like "getting over it" will prove to be more challenging.

He would randomly text my friend asking for book recommendations, sharing links... initiating conversation only to disappear.  My friend sighed, I understood the frustration.  These little games we play.  Could be fun, but eventually becomes a waste of time. Why do we do this to ourselves?

After our chat, he got up and told me he was going to go to the park to read and then rock climb.  I went on to facebook and added him to my "LA Reconnect" friend list.  It's nice to have local friends and that's something that I DO appreciate about Weho - the opportunity to casually run into people you know, but  you also run into people you know and are trying to avoid.


This morning I was at a Starbucks in Hollywood and I said out loud, "Ryan, can you review my script!?"  And Ryan whispers to me, "the guy next to you is actually reviewing a script print out."  I laughed.  I love Los Angeles.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Not Being Selfish for Once

Jimmy asked me if I could refer his recently graduated little brother to jobs in media.  His current start up gig was abusive and he had enough.

I reached out to some old coworkers on Linkedin and within hours Jimmy's brother got a phone call, in two days he scheduled an interview and within the week he went in and got the job.

I spent about an hour and a half adding industry jargon to his application answers to secure his spot.  His ideas were there, I just developed on them.  I prepared him for the interview by telling him what he should expect and how to approach it.  He was very qualified - his experience, his interest and the timing was right.  When a media agency has a spot, they fill it fast.   When he got the job I felt this amazing feeling of accomplishment.  This older brother mentorship that I've been lacking even though I have a little brother that needs guidance himself.

With my little brother, I feel useless.  His interests, his goals, his life approach is completely different than mine.  No advice I could provide would be helpful or would even resonate with him.  Theater production? Voice acting? Online gaming?  I wouldn't even know where I would begin to guide him and feel awful and selfish for being such a terrible older brother.

We're as different as can be.  6 years a part.  But these studio pictures will always be a part of what we do together.  In the end, he'll figure it out.  He's finally feeling the pressure to leave his bedroom and accomplish something.  I have a theory that dragon mom and helicopter dad never existed in my house because their oldest (me) figured out everything on his own and left the nest immediately.  With my brother present, the family is still physically together. He's home taking care of our parents and grandpa which is more impactful than my twice a week Facetime with Mom.

Dad's 60th Dinner

I feel as though my brother can really provide my parents with that happiness that I can't provide.

What is that Asian American dream?  Successful kids, beautiful grandchildren all living together in Silicon Valley.  Early retirement?  Large Christmas parties with children and noise.  What life did my parents expect to have when they moved to the US?  It certainly wasn't this.

While Facetiming with Mom, she basically told me how she's watching Grandpa die in the hospital/nursing home.  His kidney was acting up.  She grew sad and saw her future in him.  "It feels so lonely."    To my mom, blood comes before anything else and a "gay family" just means friends - people who you can't really count on to grow old with you.  Loneliness seems to be something that my life facilitates: living in Los Angeles with my boyfriend + never being able to provide her grandchildren.    And maybe that's why there's little to no pressure for my brother to leave the house.  Him and his girlfriend are welcome to live the townie life - get local jobs and provide my parents with a larger family.  It's his job to provide that heteronormative American dream.  And what am I doing? Selfishly gallivanting in Los Angeles like Peter Pan collecting lost boys; more friends, not family.

But at least I helped out someone's family and start jumped their career.  For that moment I felt like I was being helpful and not selfish.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Dating Friends

In my quest to being independent, I defaulted to going to Echo Park Lake to spend time with myself.  I had a picnic blanket, a book and a warm LA day.  I had exhausted my contact list and said to myself that I need to learn to be alone - finally.  I found a spot and enjoyed watching a lesbian couple play catch with a softball.  I noticed two gaysian boys sitting a few meters away who turned out to be my friend Jon and his friend visiting from Australia.

My effort at solitude was foiled and I was relieved. We talked about family, life, the difference between Australia and the US, relationships and the Aussie recommended the book "The Course of Love by Alain de Botton.   He shared a quote, "he will need to learn that love is a skill and not an enthusiasm."  The author also talks about how when we hurt our lovers, it usually isn't malicious but because we are hurting ourselves etc. etc.

This is something that we should be aware of.  To this Jon said, "well Chris, I feel that you're pretty self aware."   Maybe too aware as I talked about being 90% extrovert to the group... again. I expressed interest in the book because reading isn't a group activity.

The Aussie also talked about "The Family Law" which is the Aussie version of "Fresh Off the Boat" It's based off the life a Chinese-Australian who's basically the gaysian version of David Sedaris.  OF COURSE I became interested.


I ended up having dinner with the Aussie without Jon where we walked about 2 miles to get a burger because these "real" city people really love walking.  He got nostalgic and recounted 2 years of his life being lonely in LA.  He lived without a car, he jumped from house to house never having a lease.  He always had a book and sunglasses in a bag. He was free, but his time in LA expired.

As we got to know each other, I said to him that sometimes I feel like I miss dating.  The uncertainty.  The art of flirting, but playing hard to get.  The science of overthinking and over calculating.  The feeling of being attractive, valuable, wanted. The balance of obsessing and being cool.  The frustration of eventually asking, "what are doing?!" I don't play video games, but I remember that I enjoyed playing the dating game because it made me feel human.  But maybe not as much as some of my friends who are notorious serial daters.  Some folks seeing 5 different guys casually within a week and others in many 1 year relationships back to back.

"Oh god.  You're not missing much."  The Aussie responded in his mesmerizing accent.  He told me a few horror stories, but the point is at 33, he has no more time for that bullshit.

At the end of the night we exchanged numbers and email and I basically walked him to the door of his AirBnB.  For a moment I humored the thought that I had just completed a really nice "date" where the conversation was fluid, the feeling of getting to know a stranger was present, and a connection was made beyond finding commonalities like going down a checklist.

It's a problem when your dating pool is the same as your friend pool and you have to constantly question if the person was just being friendly.  Which I always am because #extrovert.  It's also a really tiny pool.  A friend of mine was dating two guys who then turned out to be friends.  Terrible.

But of course, it wasn't a date.  Two things have to happen for it to be a date - someone treats and you don't talk about your current boyfriend Jimmy for about a quarter of the time.  As we separated, I started to think about which thirsty friend of mine would like him the most and how I now have a housing option in Australia!

He texted me this morning with a selfie in front of the taco stand we talked about.  If this was following a date, then he just threw the ball into my court and it was up to me to respond or reject. I humored my imagination and I began to feel this false "enthusiasm."  This could potentially be a back and forth, overthought ambiguous exchange that takes so much time and energy and that most single people in their 30's are tired of having to do.  But of course, he was being friendly, just as I was and I jumped out of the hypothetical.  I switched over to Jimmy's text window and told him that I'm bringing home salad for him.

He responded gratefully and lovingly, "Thank you babyy!"   Like he does... every time.   


I re-read my post about sex positivity in the gaysian community and man, do I sound uber naive.  About 10 of my SF friends participated in Folsom this year.  Not just spectated, but actually dressed up with harnesses and skin.  What a sheltered bubble that I live in.

Living for my friend's heels