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.

Travel
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





Iceland
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!







Vietnam
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?

Career
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.

Family
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.

Home
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.

Health
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




Sunday, September 25, 2016

New York and Chicago Skylines


I really romanticize the DTLA skyline, but my recent work trip in August made me realize that Chicago and New York have some definite style.  I guess DTLA just has the mountains in the back, a nice orange hue because of pollution and it's quite pleasant to look at coming from any highway entering it.

This view of Manhattan from the Hudson River park is quite stunning especially during sunset.  It was so nice to watch local joggers go back and forth.



It seems like my New York friends all live in high rises.  This is the view of downtown Brooklyn.  I enjoyed this after a great BBQ.


Joe lives in Hell's Kitchen which is the new gay neighborhood in Manhattan.  He lives in the sky.  I asked the door man, which floor 30A was and he said... 30th floor.  I'm sorry, I'm Los Angeles... most buildings are 2 stories!


A view from my work balcony has a nice complete view of New York City.



The Chicago office had a similar view and apparently an agreement that the view will never be obstructed.  I saw some water and asked if that was the Atlantic... apparently the Great Lakes are actually that great.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Gaysian Shorts on Youtube + Spa Night

I've always turned to the small screen to find people I could relate to.  I feel like I've collected a few videos and wanted to post them since I was all about these webseries in my previous post.

Some old gaysian shorts:

Stay (2010)

Are you my boyfuck or boyfriend?  Simple concept with actors that look like my friends.

Do You, Andy (2012)

I've shared this before, but I love this one so much

Thanks, Dads (2014)

I don't know many gay couples with kids, but this really made it a possibly

And I'm so proud of Andrew's film Spa Night which I got to see on the big screen.


Yes Asian!

Gay Web Series

I just finished The Gay and Wondrous Life of Caleb Gallo and posted on Facebook my new man crush Kenneth Kirby and my thirsty friends starting biting.  I mean, look at him:


And the fact that he has only 1K followers on instagram makes he very approachable.  He can be our friend that everyone dreams about.    This web series staring the guy that did the video "What actually happens when gay guys see other gay guys and straight people aren't around" is hilarious!  I found my self laughing until I almost cried.



I remember really liking The Outs and being very aroused by Hunting Season which is just soft core porn.  Both series take place in New York.

I haven't gotten the chance to watch The EastSiders which I've added to the list.

Paper boys takes place in San Francisco and stars a gaysian, but only has 3 episodes!! Come on guys! We want more!

Her Story is exceptional story about trans and queer women that had me crying as well.  It's up for an Emmy award!

There's something about how amateur and raw these web series are.  It feels as though I'm closer to the characters especially since I know a few folks personally in the entertainment space.

Some recommendations that I got:

Love Sick - Thai Drama
Disposable Teans - gay teen who is forced to runaway from home after coming out of the closet.
Cómo conocí a la chica de Ludisoft - Spanish series not too sure what it's about
G&T - Italian web series that seems to be very popular
Free Fall - Black web series from 2013 and has continued momentum
Spin the Bottle - Looks terribly corny
Alex and Benny - Chinese guys being domestic
Heroin - Chinese high school drama.. looks interesting

And during my research I stumbled upon this cringe-worthy gem:

So awkward, so preachy... and something I don't get being so sticky rice.


Here we go:

Much better.. except he better get stood up at 7:30.. oh hell.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Just Talking About Sex

Trying on leather 101
I'm going to be real with you blog.

The sex dwindles the deeper you enter your long term relationship.  And you would think that Jimmy and I would talk more about it, but we don't because things have just become so comfortable.  And at times sex feels like a chore or a check list item between laundry and cooking because we're supposed to be doing it at least once a week to be considered "a healthy couple" reaching the 5th.. or was 6th year mark of our relationship. This weekend we got to talking about what we need from each other.  And what do you know, we had amazing louder-than-usual sex.  Wow, communication works instead of just blaming it on our mismatched schedules.

I had forgotten that I have 6 erogenous zones and Jimmy only has 1.  And that I really needed to say what I wanted him to do... in order to have my eyes roll behind my head.  And now I'm craving more and he's out in Atlanta for work getting black dick without me.

When I visited Brooklyn, a group of new friends started to talk about sex positivity among the gaysian community; specifically about kink.  They addressed that gaysians just don't talk about it and that needs to change, but I argued, do they not talk about whips and chains because it really doesn't excite them?  That a community of freaky deaky gaysians is really small?  But maybe, it doesn't exist because we don't talk about it.  A paradox.  I know that some folks think that my house parties are lined with sex, but they are really sexless parties, esp. compared to some other gay spaces I've had the pleasure of being invited to.   Regardless, the 321 space offers other forms of pleasantries that I am grateful for.

I know the gaysians in my circle who are freaks and I try to n'sync them together.  To create a small sub-community within a sub-community within a sub-community.   There's a curiosity here to really elevate sexual pleasure and desire that's not really addressed and maybe it's time to get out of comfort and really experiment with things other than just generically "boys."

Without a doubt I feel like the gaysians in New York and San Francisco are hooking up way more than Angelenos.  Why?  Because your erection disappears when your $15 uber gets lost.  Or you don't know where to park.  Or you're not that drunk because you have to drive.  Car culture has really ruined hooking up.  And at times I feel like my friends are really sex-less because of this or because they're not talking about it.    But let's change all of that.

More sex.  More talk about sex.  And... how many erogenous zones do you feel have been neglected?

**edit**
Just saw some Folsom pictures from the Gaysians in SF.  High heels, asses out.  Love love love.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Ya'll Left me Alone with a Donut


I've been on this health kick when my results came back and showed that though my overall cholesterol was down, my triclycerides were up.  I couldn't believe it.  This year I had better portion control, salads for lunch, exercise in the morning.  I trimmed down from 161 to 154.  However, I feel like I'm destined to have a heart attack, but Steven reassured me that it's probably genetics.  He reminded me that eggs are actually good for me and what I needed to watch out for was trans and saturated fat, not dietary fat that comes from animal products.  To my joy, I had some nachos to celebrate... but those nachos were on top of french fries... which were cooked in oil with lots of trans and saturated fat.  UGH.

But everyone seems supportive of my effort to get better and live longer.  These numbers HAVE to improve by next year.  Salmon and cheap California avocado more frequently?  No problem.  No taco bell?  Ugh.  I need to go back to my diet mantra "I know what it tastes like, I don't need to eat it."  And MORE exercise - working on it.    The weight goal is to be under 150 pounds because for my height, I am considered overweight according to the doctors.

I'm a cuddly bear on the beach.  

I told Joe that Jimmy deleted Grindr/Jackd because it was making him feel self conscious comparing himself to other guys which I didn't get 100%.  To my surprise Joe responded, "yeah! of course!  Constantly seeing impossible-to-achieve torsos in the gay world would have an affect on you."  And I thought to myself - oh... right, beautiful bodies which I usually glaze pass unless they attached an instagram link #morephotos.

Candipop at The Satellite in Silverlake 

Last night they were giving out free donuts and I grabbed one.  There were 7 of us total and we already had a lot to drink.  I previously bought everyone a round of whiskey which no one verbally thanked me for nor were excited about.  I should have asked instead of assuming because most of us don't want to feel like shit the next day; but I really wanted to share my joy that the week was over.  There should have been drunk hunger, but NO ONE wanted share this delicious treat.  Everyone politely declined, so I just devoured the fucking donut on my own on the dance floor listening to Willa Ford's - I Wanna be Bad.

I thought to myself, do my friends just not like donuts (impossible) or was there some sort of body consciousness tied to the refusal.  No sugar after 6PM or something? Is this donut really destroy that body of yours?  Here I am, talking non-stop about my cholesterol for the past two weeks and I'm like, "fuck this" and eat all of it in great satisfaction.  No guilt. Just freedom.

So what is it about body dysmorphia in the gay community?  Can we blame how the community is frequently exposed to chiseled bodies through media and... grindr / jackd?  Can we blame other gays who seem so fit, but complain the most about how "fat" they are after posting a shirtless pic on instagram while some of us have never exposed our bodies even at the beach?   Is it because having a hot body is like having a good fishing rod when trying to date because that's the only thing that seems to get a response (No Fems, No Fats, No Asians)?  Are we in constant competition with one another that we have to feel bad about ourselves every time we look in the mirror?  I don't know.

What I do know is, ya'll left me alone with that donut and I'm trying to reduce my cholesterol and ya'll be looking at it like the devil even though none of you have health problems (that I know about).  Help a brother out gaysians - you can afford that sugar; you're not going get that bulky man-meat torso anytime soon, lesbehonest.

All I want from my friends is for them to be healthy and not physique obsessed.  And to workout because it makes them feel good not so that they can get affirmations of self worth.   I want to be friends with people, not models and I'm proud to say that most of my friends have VERY average bodies because we are average people....  average people who should have one bite of a donut at midnight in a night club full of people born in the 90s without judgement once in a while.

Monday, September 12, 2016

On My Mind.

I'm a 10 minute walk from Echo Park lake and in a few months I'll be at least a 20 minute drive. I did a lap this weekend which I haven't done in a while. But I always find myself escaping here when I'm trying to organize my thoughts.  Though this recent walk around presented more layers of thought than I needed.  But I finished the lap, just for good measure.


There is way too much on my mind and it's been a while since I've allowed myself to take a moment and write things down.  I need to take care of my mental health as much as I'm trying with my physical health.

==

I have surgery scheduled in two weeks that I've put off for a year because I've adapted to the small inconvenience and discomfort that my body has created for me since January 2015.  I've felt alone in this process and actually I'm pretty scared about the pain following the procedure. It's a rare issue that I have and I have no one to really talk to about it.

==

By January 1, 2017 the landlord has request that we voluntarily vacate so that they can remodel.  They are offering full security deposit, but no relocation assistance.  They are hoping that we will play ball because we've paid pennies for such a large, unique and centralized place.  We could fight this... but is the headache of legal worth it?  The boys are excited to find a place that isn't a fire hazard, crawling with ants and packed with dust.  But like my box of greeting cards that I've saved for years, I am sentimental and the attachment that I have for this house has grown immensely since moving in 2009.

Slowly I'm getting rid of the junk I've accumulated.  You can only imagine what I've collected from years of elaborate themed parties.  There's a bit of a grey cloud that's been hanging over my head since receiving that letter in July.  This house means a lot to me.  I've found great happiness being a resource center, a sanctuary, a meeting spot, a safe space for innately good people that I've found through out LA.  But these thoughts deserve a separate entry.

==

Jimmy recently deleted Grindr/Jackd because it was affecting his self confidence comparing himself to other gay men.  Jimmy would say lightly, "I actually get a lot of instagram followers from Grindr." No big deal.

I find myself deleting and then downloading again when I'm bored. I always get mad at myself for wasting so much time logging in; chatting but never meeting, looking, but never touching.  Blocking my friends so they don't see me, don't judge me. I would say, "I actually enjoy trolling people with terrible profile descriptions."  The other day I messaged someone saying, "Educated AND Career Oriented?!  WOW!!!"  They immediately blocked me, I laughed to myself.  I'm obnoxious.

What is the point?  Why are we on this hookup app to begin with?  

==

My mind is wandering. It's adjusting to my recent average of 4 hours of sleep.  Jimmy goes to bed at 3AM, I am up by 5AM.  Both of us having to tip toe around the other during different moments of darkness.  Both of us doing a terrible job. Both of us becoming extremely out of it during different parts of the day. What does that mean for sex?  It doesn't mean a whole lot.  

==

Last night I ended up at a Korean Spa and witnessed some "inappropriate behavior" that I wasn't expecting.  I felt like I was in a movie.  This old guy tried to touch me, but I shoo'd him away.  I thought about how taboo is exciting for gay men because that's how we developed our sexuality.   We were taught that what aroused us was wrong.  So now we associate taboo with sexual excitement.   Things like married men, straight guys, public bath houses, craigslist hook ups seem so hot because it's so wrong and risky.  Just like having a crush / infatuation with a boy is wrong.  But you just can't stop yourself from feeling this way because of how you're wired.  The temptation to rebel and fuck heteronormativity.

==

I'm starting to feel consumed with first world problems.  In two instances my friends responded sarcastically, "what a tough life you have."  I get embarrassed.  I feel guilty. I feel like at times it's best to just be silent and just figure things out on my own or through this blog. I am writing this on my shuttle to work and the wifi is annoyingly spotty.  Yeah - fuck me.

==

My friends are starting to go to therapy.  It seems like your 30s is the time for you to fix the shit that you've created in your 20s.  Undo the shit that you ate, the shit that you put yourself through, the all around shitty yolo decisions that you made.  I never considered therapy; you are my therapy.  Thanks for helping me sort this through.  I already feel better.


Feeling this song right now.  Not so much the dancing woman.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

An Attack on My Community

It's terribly ironic that my last post about a month ago proclaimed that I have nothing to complain about, but these past two weeks of June have been very stressful.  After having a wonderful birthday, I was slapped with an eviction notice... but we're pushing back leaning on the city to protect us.  Jimmy is fighting while I come off as weak in the situation. I feel lucky to be living in such a great location for such a great price for so many years.  Jimmy pointed at leaks in the ceiling, the carpet that hasn't been replaced in years and the foundation that has not been earthquake reinforced - we get what we pay for and we have rent control.

On top of that comes the Orlando tragedy in which I found myself crying at work reading victim stories and being surrounded by clueless coworkers who don't feel the pain that I'm feeling because their community wasn't targeted.

  • Juan Ramon Guerrero and Christopher "Drew" Leinonen who were to get married, but will be buried together.  If you read about their family, your heart will melt.  If you follow their instagram they remind me the most of myself and my friends.  Their story hurt me the most.
  • Akyra Murray who was celebrating her high school graduation reminded me of a time when I went to 18+ gay clubs in San Francisco called Faith... I was young and carefree.  Everything was new and exciting.  I was celebrating as much as she was and I felt safe being myself.
  • Brenda Lee Marquez McCool who was a survivor of both breast and bone cancer was out dancing with her son before she shielded him from the bullets.  Parents protecting their kids always makes my heart jerk.
I attended the vigil in DTLA in front of LA City hall last night where I found 23 of my friends.  We came to listen, mourn and be empowered.  We all knew that I could have been us that night.  Pulse in Orlando - Latin night.  This sounds all too familiar.  It could have been Rage or Cantina in WeHo or the now defunct Dragon or Beaux in San Francisco.  Other Gaysian / POC Gay spaces where I would consider a safe space to dance, to say what's on my mind, to hold Jimmy's hand without being scared. 

My dad posted about it on Facebook, but I had to correct him.


God.
My dad texted me to pray everyday and I told him that God won't protect me, but gun control will.  At the same a Sacramento Baptist pastor praised the Orlando massacre.  I began reading about places in the world where you could be put to death for being gay.  What is the purpose of religion?  I don't see progress.  How can I pray to "God" when others' Gods say that I should be dead? 

I only pray when I fly.  Maybe because I'll be in the sky and I ask for protection from who ever is living in the clouds.  A quick sign of the father, the son and the holy spirit eases my flying anxiety.   That God will protect me when I'm closer to heaven and not on this earth when it only takes 7 minutes for some idiot human to legally buy an assault rifle and take into action his interpretation of his religion and internalized homophobia etc.

Normalizing and Checking In.
On Sunday, I went out to Akbar, the Arabian themed gay bar for 30 minutes.  It was difficult to shake the sense of fear from my mind.  But I know that I needed to.  I cannot let them win so I danced while drinking water to a remix of Whitney Houston. 

I messaged a few friends who said, "thank you for asking how I'm doing. I've talked about it.. but no one actually asked how I was."  Yes, because we're family.

The Need for Pride 
In the photo above, I'm wearing a Pride t-shirt.  I never usually celebrate pride because I never felt the need to.  Because I'm always surrounded by people who think and act like me.  But this year, I've felt less of that because of my new work environment and this tragedy.

I've never felt prosecuted and the automatic check that I do before kissing or touching my boyfriend in public has already become natural.  But now I feel that it's even more important to have pride and to be visible because in actuality I'm not as safe as I thought I've been.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Complaining about Nothing

A photo posted by Christopho (@letopho) on

Life has become so comfortable that I need to remind myself to question if the things that I complain about are justifiable.  Questions like, "...but did you die?"   Talking to my parents really put things into perspective.  "We want to give you advice as if we were your friends, we don't want to tell you what you SHOULD do."  The Americanization-ness of my family is interesting.  But the general response was, "no one is hurting you...right?"  Essentially, count your blessings and participate in outrage-culture to a minimum.  Immigrant philosophy: work hard, concentrate on your goals and exceed for a better future.  I'm finally listening to my parents rather than just hearing them.

Right now I'm battling with extreme exposure of entitlement which I'm struggling to deal with.  But to let this be the ONLY subject of discomfort is luxury in itself.  A paradox.  I could easily plug myself into headphones.

"You know those scholarships set aside for minorities? well... in California white people are the minority, where's the scholarship set aside for them?"

Shocked, unprepared -  "I don't have a comment for you"

"Well, I'll just play the Asian card for my kids.  You know my wife's Asian right?"

"Yes, I knew that." Where the fuck am I?  I am the ONLY person of color around, and you choose to talk to me about this??!

Opens up email subject line: "Was the rearrangement of the (FREE) salad bar intensional. It doesn't make sense."

Email sent to 500+ people. Closes email, screams internally.

Ignore it ignore it ignore it.

==

My friend asked me great birthday questions.  "What would make your life better?

"If I saw my parents more often."  So I bought my mom an iPad so that I can facetime her.
"If I lowered my cholesterol." So I'm forcing myself to gym 4 times a week
"If I went on vacation." So I'm planning a trip to New Zealand and Iceland
"If I cooked more." So I cook once a week for Jimmy after work with new recipes that he picks
"If I drove less." So use a shuttle to get to and from work

Without struggle/conflict I find myself bored.  Bored enough to let these little encounters with people get to me.  People who are "on the spectrum," lacking self awareness, and are unappreciative.

Thank god for these amazing weekend adventures like to the Millard Canyon Falls (pictured above).   I'm a happy person.  I'm a lucky person.  I have nothing to complain about.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

To the Victims of Terrorism in Brussels


My dad shared this drawing and story on Facebook.


I grew up in the 60s & 70s with Belgian comics such as Tintin (by Herge), Lucky Luke (by Morris & Rene Goscinny), Johan & Pirlouit (by Peyo), Les Stroumph (by Peyo), Sprirou & Fantasio (by Andre Franquin) which I loved so much. I remember saving money just to buy those comic books. And each time when I had enough money, I went straight to the book store to get one and took it home. But before reading it, I opened it and sniffed the pages first. How sweet the smell of those pages were! I still admire the writers and the creators of those comics who really wrote great stories and designed such fantastic characters.

I want to take this opportunity to share a sketch that I just did to dedicate to the artists and writers of Belgium and whoever that used to read those comic books and loved them.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Something for Mom

My mom wears simple things.  Her purse is more like a travel satchel.  Her outfits are off the discount rack.  Though, during Christmas she would joke about wanting a diamond.  When she opened her actual present from me and discovered a scarf she was thrilled as if it was the most precious stone on the planet.

The past year has been rough for her.  My grandpa was finally placed in a nursing home and being the only child she has taken all responsibility - visiting him everyday.  Washing his soiled clothes everyday even though there was a staff paid to do it.  She told me she was strong when my grandma passed away, but this time around she doesn't feel too strong.  She is saddened watching her father age.  "...this is what's going to happen to me" she says to me.  Slowly his mind and body is falling a part.

The vacations from reality that she's tried to take have been stressful.  It rained during her entire 4 day stay in Hawaii and my dad caught the flu.  My mom went to the beach by herself...thinking about my grandfather and having to take care of another person: my dad who had a fever in the hotel room.  She couldn't catch a break.

For her birthday this year, I decided to get her a simple diamond necklace.  Something she joked about wanting, but something I can provide to her to make her happy. I gave myself 3 months.  I was stressing out about it.  It was like buying a car.  I didn't know the value and I didn't know how to shop.

I decided to check online and stumbled upon this necklace from Macy's - "Elegant and eye-catching. Sirena's exquisite pendant features a round-cut diamond (1/4 ct. t.w.) crafted in a beautiful 14k white gold setting."  There were 29 positive reviews and there was a one-day sale.  I consulted my dad and he gave a big thumbs up.  I had it shipped to my parent's place a few weeks early.  My dad wrapped it and I called to video conference her on her actual birthday.

Here's a video of her opening it.  She was wearing the scarf I gave her for Christmas.



Since my dad left the tag on the gift, my mom was worried about how much I had spent on her, but I reassured her that I got a great deal.

She told me that a long time ago, I gave her my tax return.  She told me that she used the money to buy another necklace so that should could wear it and think of me.  I completely forgot that I did that.

It's probably one of the best feelings you can have - to do something nice for your parents, at any capacity. To show them that you appreciate everything that they've done for you.

Happy 55th Birthday Mom.  You're the best.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Setting Goals / Refining Comprehension / Cook for my Man

When I was in Japan during Thanksgiving weekend last year I regretted not buying daruma / dharma dolls for my coworkers as travel gifts.  Morale was low and we were entering a new year so these popular "gifts of encouragement [...] used alongside goal setting" seemed very appropriate.  Draw in one eye to make a wish or set a goal and then draw in the other eye once it has been completed.

Now almost two months into my new job, I have the opportunity to buy this for my new coworker.

Little Tokyo, Los Angeles to the rescue.  I found this cute version and snagged it for my coworker's birthday this Thursday.  Though I've only know him for a little time, he's shared a lot of personal stories and thoughts.  He's guided by spirituality and zodiac and would appreciate this.  

This is also something I need to get for myself because as I challenge myself with a new job, in a new place, with new people... I'm forgetting about me.  I'm so worked up with "catching up" and fulfilling expectations that people have of me.  "Chris is amazing.  Chris comes with a ton of knowledge of the space.  Chris is cool as a cucumber.  Chris already knows all of this stuff. etc. etc."  I get nervous, because I feel as though I've faked it... and now that I'm "making it," perse it means I need to fill in those gaps.  And that means, being stressed out and forgetting what makes me happy.

I'm on a shifted schedule now, which I'm starting to get used to.  Wake up at 5AM, drive to the shuttle at 5:45.  Arrive at the office by 6:45AM and connect with the New York, Chicago and India office.  When 2:50PM strikes, I dash out and refuse to log back on.  I arrive at my shuttle stop at 4:15PM and back home by 4:30PM.  All this time in the late afternoon to myself is usually wasted, but I've discovered that A1 Asian Market is on my route home from the shuttle.  So I've cooked a few times for me and Jimmy:

Pork braised in coconut juice with eggs (thit heo kho):

A photo posted by Christopho (@letopho) on

A photo posted by Christopho (@letopho) on

Salmon and kale if I'm feeling basic.  And then Jimmy does the dishes.  Cooking doesn't seem so hard if you just following instructions.  And that's actually something that I do a lot at my new job: find the instruction document and read through it to find the answer.  My comprehension skills are being refined.  But it's hard when you have to go through 24 pages to find one thing.  There's a lot of frustrations at work, but I'm determined to make this work for me.

So what ARE my goals/wishes?  Continue to do things that excite me:
  • Explore Los Angeles
  • Plan events
  • See friends
  • ...and don't let work consume me so much that I forget to do those things mentioned above.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Los Angeles Asian Food Recommendations

My coworker asked me for Asian food in Los Angeles recommendations and I spent a long time making a list.  I go to a lot of new restaurants every weekend, but the ones below are good enough for me to return to.  I love LA.

Chinese
 - 101 Noodle Express (San Gabriel Valley)- for Beef Rolls, Dan dan mien
 - Green Zone (San Gabriel Valley)- for Hainese Chicken
 - Szechuan Impression (San Gabriel Valley)- for NICE Szchuan food (good service)
 - Pine and Crane (Los Feliz) - Hipster, organic refined Taiwanese.
 - Huge Tree Pastry (San Gabriel Valley) - Taiwanese breakfast - Fan tuan
 - Jazz Cat (San Gabriel Valley) - Individual hot pot
 - Atlantic Seafood (San Gabriel Valley) - for cheap dim sum (in a very modern Asian plaza with a daiso)
 - Elite (San Gabriel Valley) - Better quality dim sum (no carts)
 - Newport Seafood (San Gabriel Valley) - for that lobster

Korean
 - Bud Namu (Koreatown) - for CHEAP AYCE KBBQ - new facility, $12
 - Hae Jang Chon (Koreatown) - for stone grill style kbbq
 - Yu Chun Chic (Koreatown) - for Korean cold noodles. 
 - Eight Korean BBQ (Koreatown) - 8 different types of pork including ginseng, garlic etc. - pretty unique

Japanese
 - Silverlake Ramen (Silvelake) - for dipping noodles
 - Monzo (Little Tokyo) - for creamy udon
 - Kush (Echo Park)- for $$$ Japanese tapas
 - Coco Ichibanya (Koreatown)- Japanese curry.  Some people like Curry House better
 - Jist Caf(Little Tokyo)- Cute cafe.  Get Chashu hash + rice.  Large portion
 - Sushi Enya (Little Tokyo) - American sushi rolls.  Get "no rice" rolls. They come out in bite sizes. Mmm
 - Tokyo Fried Chicken (San Gabriel Valley)- A different take on fried chicken with amazing ponzu dipping sauce and sides.
Indonesia
 - Simpang Asia (West LA)- general Indo food
 - Borneo (San Gabriel Valley) - Amazing nasi campur

Vietnamese
 - Golden Deli (San Gabriel Valley) - Very east, but probably the best 
 - Thai Lai (Hawthorne)  - For their Hu Tieu and Mi Quang

Thai
 - Luv2Eat (Hollywood) - For their jade noodles (dry)
 - Ruen Pair (Thai town)- Everything is amazing here.
 - Hoy-ka (Hollywood) - MMM Thai Noodle Soup

Thursday, January 7, 2016

It's 2016!

I felt that 2015 was an odd year.  On a microscopic scale my friend group was changing and mixing as couples broke up and people came closer to accomplishing their personal goals.  On a larger scale, it was clear that the world is full of hate and violence.  Jimmy and I have been able to distract ourselves with amazing, but short international trips.

2016 will be another interesting year.  I'm starting clean with a new job and with that comes a new headshot (perks of bf photographer.)  It's only my fourth day in and it feels like the first day of school.  Jumping from an office of 15 to 800 is stressful.   Finding the perfect route to work is stressful.  Tonight on the way home, I was in the wrong lane to make a right turn and tried to squeeze in.  I was honked out of doing that.  Very aggressively.  I drove over a backpack that fell into the road.  And... i had to maneuver lefts and rights in order to avoid a gridlocked highway 10.  I'll get the hang of this.  I must.  I was also put on the spot during an internal call and didn't quite shine the way I had hoped.  But there is time to recover.

I'm thankful for the experience I got from my old job of 3.5 years.  Through that company I experienced a cycle of ups and downs that usually takes companies 10 years.  I take pride in saying that I was headhunted for this new job one year ago and declined, but after a year I was finally ready to take the opportunity as a new recruiter from the same company reached out to me again.

"Everyone loved you of course."  How to stay humble?  How to stay modest?  I get really awkward with these types of compliments.  And with every compliment regarding my performance that I get, the more insecure I get about my capabilities.

Today I ate dinner in my office alone.  I hadn't made late evening friends yet.  It really was, the first day of school.

New Years Eve.
I enjoyed a nice house party with lots of alcohol and no activities other than eating and drinking.  Though I enjoyed watching the host struggle to get the right mylar balloons.   Only after buying from Party City for $30, inflating them with helium, putting them in his car and THEN arranging on his wall that he noticed that the balloons read 2012.

A photo posted by Christopho (@letopho) on



Reminded me of his pumpkin carving event... without pumpkins because he couldn't find any on October 29th.

Christmas
Christmas was off too.  My parents found my grandpa with fluid in his lungs and his blood infected.  He stopped eating.  My mom took a month off work to help him transfer from senior housing to a nursing home.  Something that she was trying to avoid for so long by installing cameras in his home and hiring someone to watch over him under the table 24/7.  She discovered that the nursing home was better.  Obviously - these people are trained to take care of him.  When we visited him, we took him on a few laps in the home and made light of the situation which my mom enjoyed.



She cancelled the big family Christmas party, to which my cousin picked up immediately.  My cousin texted me a few weeks before to confirm that I would take care of the games which I agreed to, but then I realized that 50 people were coming.  During the party we sat in a circle talking and eating and suddenly the room fell silent and all eyes were on me.  I realized, that they were waiting for me to initiate games...


Thank gawd for reverse charades.  Everyone acts out while one person guesses.  Yes - together, this group formed "TIMBER."  Obviously.    A handful of folks said that they were happy I brought the game and that family events are not the same without me.   At that point, I felt very appreciated.  I didn't bring any food for the potluck, but I managed to bring something to the event.  I also gave all my cousins The Tile App so that they can find their keys.  Great success!

Being Present
Jimmy encourages me to visit my family.  Especially during this time when my mom was having a hard time dealing with Grandpa.  So I came home early for Christmas just to spend time with her.  We did... nothing.  I spent the day falling asleep on her bed while she watched the Hallmark channel because she's been sick for so long.  But I guess there was some value in that?  I think my parents appreciate our relationship.  We talk, I call them in traffic... and that's how I show them that I love them.

What does 2016 look?
- New Job
- New commute (this is a big deal in LA)
- First Jury Duty
- Major surgery
- Less vacation time

Goal: Purge...
Though that's really hard to do when I just brought home animal stickers from my parents house.