Monday, January 23, 2012


My dad asked me if I wanted to say a couple of words about my grandma during the reception portion of the funeral.  I said I had nothing to say.  My memories of her were few even though she took care of me when I was first born.

Moments before the reception I stood next to my parents as we watched them roll her cold coffin into the... furnace?  to be cremated.  I rubbed their shoulders as they cried and cried and cried.  Coldly I thought - this is uncomfortably too familiar.  The same funeral home, the same group of people, the same suit that I wore for a wedding, an interview and another funeral. No one volunteered to "press the button." The door shut anticlimactically and we eventually walked away from the steal walls awkwardly.. but with a sigh of relief.

My Aunt who passed away from breast cancer was carelessly shoved-in with brute force hitting the back wall... this was followed by a shriek that could be heard miles away from one of my relatives.. people fell to the ground, the earth shook, the sea level increased by three feet.  My grandma had a less dramatic exit.

I thought I did my part being a pallbearer and enduring a terrible Vietnamese mass where people thought it was okay to answer their cell phones sitting in the 3rd row.

in the 60s
Logic must have escape them.  Ironically the women screaming her hallelujahs also left her porn jingle running for 2 minutes before she could find her phone in her purse to shut it off... wait no.. to ANSWER IT.  "Excuse me, this is my grandma's funeral"  She put her index finger up to indicate "just one moment" despite the fact that my cousin was doing a reading.  The bitch hid behind the pew giving directions in a loud whisper. I was two seconds from grabbing her phone and tossing it across the room. "So rude." I said in Vietnamese 3 times as if I was casting a spell.  Sometimes I wonder.

A couple of nights before I helped my dad put together a collage of my grandma.  He printed out far too many, but we had to consolidate between two boards: classic and current photos.

The ones in black and white were romantic.  The photo on the right was originally a wallet that my dad had blown up.

In between the viewings and prayers I discovered that a random guy that was instant messaging me on downelink years ago was actually related to me... well our great grandparents are siblings or something.  It was amusing.  Anyway.

At the reception there were some heartbreaking moments.

  • My uncle sang "what a wonderful world" and broke down.  
  • My cousin talked about how Grandma caught her with a boy in her room, but never told her parents.  She said that Grandma's silence was powerful.  
  • My aunt who is now divorced from my family genuinely apologized for her wrongs and thanked my grandma for never treating her less than a person.  Her sincerity was astonishing.
  • My dad talked about how he would prepare for spankings by wearing layers of shorts or cardboard to protect his ass.
  • My other cousin told a story of when he talked to her for about 5 minutes before she asked another cousin who he was because she didn't recognize him

I really had nothing to say, nothing to contribute aside from repeating that she lived a complete life and passed at 85 with 8 children and many grandchildren.  I wrote a quick speech in my head, but didn't present it:
Every year for Tet before receiving the red envelope I would wish grandma "live long to be 100 years old" but what I should have said was "live until you've done everything that makes you happy."  
I would then elaborate on my cliche and scan the crowd for nods of approval.  But decided to let others speak more genuinely.

My mom told me that we weren't celebrating Vietnamese New Years so I didn't make plans to return, but then I was tagged in the photo above - "last minute" decision to celebrate and an assumption that I wouldn't want to return home because I was just there for my grandma.  I was very upset.  Look at that food.  It's like not being invited to Christmas.  Traditionally, we are not supposed to celebrate because of the death.  But it would have been nice to partake in one more celebration that is usually at my Grandma's even in her absence.

I was removed from New Years like I how I was removed from my Grandma's death.  It has been such a reality for me that when I heard that she passed away I only needed about an hour before I was able to continue with work distraction at my cubicle.  I guess I protected myself from grief.

Below is a picture I found of my mom with my Grandma when I was putting together the collage (what a hottie.)  It just dawned on me that I also put together photo collages for people at work who leave the company for better opportunities. Every time I put together these displays of memories I always wonder - who's next to leave the company... who's next to be removed, but hopefully only when it's their time.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

November 2011 Recap

Nov. 11
P.E.T. Haus (Phil, Ed and Tommy) had a house warming party where I learned a couple of things:
Ern makes an amazing adobo (so amazing that I took shots of it), if there's carpet the chances that it will become a sitting party is more likely and potlucks will always include KFC/Chicken McNuggets.  I was impressed when someone brought 5lb worth of roasted duck.  Huan and JonJon came down and were pleasantly surprised at how friendly everyone was as well as more fashionable.  I guess so.

Nov. 17
With an open door policy we have folks coming in and out.... for the sake of comparing shoes.

Nov. 22
Thai Patio is the best place for big groups who want family style thai food especially for a quick Thanksgiving dinner.

Nov. 23
Played Spoons with penalties.
JLo had to give a strip show with a broom, Jimmy had to push a bottle cap across the room with his nose without his hands and I had to do a chicken dance around the room.  Other penalties: scream in the middle of the street that you are a furry hamster, kiss everyone's shoes, and give someone compliments for an entire minute.

Andrew wins with his geisha make up... "who is that girl I see?"

Nov. 24
Our favorite lesbian Cindy had a birthday party at her lovely Silverlake apartment

Lesbians and their fancy party treats.

Cindy is a part of this lesbian community that I obviously have no understanding of... but these girls are hot hot hot.  Only the sexiest for Cindy.  These LA lipstick lesbians were a lot different from the San Jose lesbians that I'm used to.. you know the ones with greasy braids, switch blades and bad grades.

Top right: Eric and his boyfriend David adopted Ryan.  What a special one.  And Ern and I are trying to blend in.  So much classy going on here.

Nov. 26

Nov. 29
Bought a Christmas tree from Home Depot.  We had to trim trim this monstrous bush with the help of Andrew.

November was just yesterday :]

Gonna keep up the decorations until our next party.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Joshua Tree

Back in October, we went camping at Joshua Tree which is about 2.5 hours away from Echo Park.  We went on  hikes and fell asleep in the silence of nature.  It took me a while to post these because I lost about 100 pictures after misplacing my memory card, but I didn't want to procrastinate any further.

Below are from Jimmy's pictures with his edits. More scenic photos here.

I highly recommend the Black Rock Canyon camp ground.  The bathrooms were great and the sites were spacious.  We didn't need to pay National Park fees to camp there, but did so any way to go hiking.  Very entry level camping with drinking water etc and we reserved the spot two months in advance.

The hike to 29 Palms oasis was the most breathtaking.  A real oasis with running water sits in the middle of the desert.  It was an amazing sight and the perfect lunch break spot.  It made the trip worthwhile.

Joshua Tree national park feels like another planet with strange trees and numerous rocks in various shapes.  The temperature was different and so were the sounds.  I felt like I had escaped human life all together.

At night we were able to do some light photography:

Luckily we were with camping experts and had great campfire meals with sausages, potatoes, pancakes.  And I made good use of a camel back water storing back pack that I originally bought unused at a garage sale for alcoholic purposes.

This entry closes October 2011.  November/December left to go!

What does 2012 Hold?

While my dad rocked out and paid homage to 70's/80's music on his Keytar to middle aged Vietnamese people in Milpitas, I had a more conservative New Years Eve in Southern California.

With everyone scattered and West Hollywood already checked off the list the Friday before, we decided to keep it intimate with Alysia in Pasadena and make a pizza, play board games and dance to Pandora.

Chicken and Pesto on homemade crust.

My stomach acid issues kept me from over drinking, but I did enjoy a Bailey's Hot Cocoa.  Sandy is rocking the buzzed sides she got off the street for free after a bike race in Portland.... Portland.

Just a quick photo shoot to show off our New Year's Eve outfits.

I brought streamers to decorate the house.  They quickly transformed into dancing ribbon with Pandora basting after the TV countdown.  Jimmy found Love in a Hopeless place and then vomited streamers.

What does 2012 hold?

- Year of the Dragon
- Leap Year
- Election year
- London Olympics
- End of the World

What can I do to top this off??  What ever it is, I have a feeling I need flashlights and at least 3 gallons of potable water stored in the house.  I'd also like a vacation in another country... and maybe a break from work.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Faces of the Bay

Usually when I go to the bay area I keep it short because soon after arriving I find myself wanting to go back to LA.  This trip was different - I enjoyed my extended stay and was able to catch up with a handful of people.

Clockwise: At the mall with Anhimals, getting low in DT San Jose on Christmas, crashing at Mavs in the Castro, tasting Szeto's homemade macarons, brunch with JV at a family owned bakery, watching Sonny model and Joe play video games.

While visiting Huan, Charles and JonJon, JonJon made me a scarf necklace made of multiple strips of fabric.  Perfect for LA, because trends in LA is drapy.

Miwa reminded me an old photo album of us that we took in 2005 so we decided to reenact each pic:

MMM Also had amazing "Mexican" Mac and Cheese at Homeroom in Oakland.

Also met up with Madeline who I've been friends with since middle school.

Starting 2012 with Acid

Last night I experienced excruciating abdominal pain that left me calling nurses and driving around to get a prescription from an on call doctor who had a hawaii area code.

Insurance issues prevented me from getting medication so I tossed and turned in bed while a gremlin inside of my stomach was clawing at the walls.  Holding on to Jimmy was the only source of relief.

What causes acid reflex?  heartburn?  Everything I love:

Learn about foods that cause acid reflux

Here's the story on some common acid reflux triggers that may—or may not—affect you. Of course, it's best to avoid the foods that bother you.
High-fat foods tend to relax the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) muscle, which usually stays tight to keep acid in the stomach and out of the esophagus.
Spicy foods can irritate the lining of the esophagus leading to heartburn in some people.
Tomatoes, citrus fruits, and onions are acidic and trigger heartburn in some people.
Mint, long thought to aid in digestion, tends to stimulate reflux in people with acid reflux disease.
Alcoholic drinks can damage the lining of the esophagus and the stomach. And fermented beverages, like wine and beer, can also increase the production of stomach acid.
Caffeinated drinks—including coffees, teas, sodas, and even hot chocolate—are a problem for some people with acid reflux disease. Even decaffeinated coffee, although better than regular coffee, is still acidic and can aggravate heartburn.
Sodas, even if they're caffeine-free, can trigger heartburn because they are carbonated.

Definitely had spicy foods.  Inhaled at least a half a slightly cooked onion eating Mediterranean.  Tomatoes for New Years.  Mint in my Pho yesterday morning. Tangerines because they were on sale. Cheese daily = high-fats.  Copious amounts of alcohol during the break.  Hot teas with Jimmy and last night I had a can of Canada Dry thinking it would help.

SO basically, I had everything on this list triggering what I believe is an ulcer.

Nothing worked - Tums, milk, Mylanta.  All of which were supposed to provide immediate relief.  I was over loaded with magnesium and calcium, yet I was still aching.  Finally, after Jimmy left at 4:30AM for work, things calmed down, but I hope this isn't an indication of the new year:  painful, bed ridden, discomfort.

Does this mean I have to become one of those obnoxious people with "Dietary Restrictions?"    I have to make sure my spicy food and cheese is cage less, organic and free range before I can eat it. I hate myself already.