Monday, December 3, 2018

Moody

There have been moments where I ask myself, "what the fuck is wrong with you?"

Why am I having these thoughts, these feelings, these distractions?  

I've been moody lately, but I've contained it.  There have been moments in which I really want some attention.  Some comfort. Some excitement.

I'm in the mood to dance, to get some endorphins up, to feel good.  To feel sexual and carefree. To be touchy and intimate. 

At least five of my friends are experiencing depression... clinical, leaving work, losing hair, losing family, addicted to drugs, addicted to alcohol, moving to random parts of the world, feeling insecure.  

Piles and piles of emotional turmoil that some are addressing and some are suppressing.  I remind people that we need to check up on each other because life can be lonely. Hurt feels lonely.

Someone said to me that it's hard for them to talk to anyone about whatever happened or what they're feeling because they’re afraid that people are gonna be upset with them.  I can understand that, some things you just keep to yourself.  You hide your demons... to ensure that your friends believe you are who you want them to think you are. You want people to continue to like you and respect you and believe that you are...genuine, innocent, faithful, generous, caring, respectful, honest, selfless.

...and not a sack of worthless garbage that you feel you are at times.

So you lock those demons up, hoping that they don't eat you up inside; hoping that no one notices that sometimes your actions don't always match your morals.

I know I'm just in a mood.  Anything I'm dealing with just feels small.

Someone said to me, "Chris, do you go to therapy?  You don't need therapy." 
Am I really that well-adjusted? Am I really that self aware?  Am I really that level headed?

Quite possibly.  But I think moreover I know what I need to do to heal: blog, dance, chill... with others so that we can remind each other that it's okay to feel like an imperfect human.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Integrating with Family

Jimmy and I went to Orange County to celebrate my cousin's birthday.  She put out the invite one month in advance to make sure that everyone had it marked in their calendar.  She was turning 35 and wanted to celebrate for once.

I later learned that my aunt was attending.   She's a wild card; not the family favorite and divorced my biological uncle.  She got lost going to the restaurant and my cousin was already annoyed with her.

I've never came out directly to my family aside from my parents. I've never said those words. When my aunt finally arrived she asked me who the guy was sitting next to me; I hesitated.  My cousin spoke for me, "this is Jimmy!"  My aunt responded that it was great to meet him.

We sat at opposite ends of the table enjoying the restaurant's version of tostadas and loco moco.  There were about 16 people there so it was easy to stick to a few folks to talk to.

At the end of the night as my aunt prepared to leave, she looked at Jimmy and said, "Take care of Christopher.  If you don't, I'm going to come after you."  She started laughing.  Jimmy and I started laughing as well.  My aunt looked at me and said, "be you, be happy, that's the most important thing."  I thanked her as she walked away.

I melted in the moment.  I didn't realize the impact that those words that came so unexpectedly.

I was used to silence.  And I feel that most of us just accept that silence is the best thing we're going to get from our family who know we're gay officially or not.

==

Despite being together for so long, Jimmy and I have celebrated Christmas separately, but this year is different.  Jimmy's family is out of the country and he agreed to come up to San Jose to participate in both my high school Christmas party and my family's.

I told him that we have to prepare.  That all the gifts will be from "the both of us."  And he responded, "i have to get ready for your extrovert family."  Which the perfect word to describe the Christmas party that my parents always host. 

I'm excited to send the email, "Jimmy will be joining us this year!" 

And I need to get used to saying to my extended family, "This is Jimmy, he's my boyfriend of 8 years and I'm happy that he's here to celebrate Christmas with us."

This is probably the biggest step in our relationship that we've taken in a while - family integration.  Straight people don't understand how easy they have it to be able to do this without a ounce of worry, fear or stress.  And maybe one day, I'll be able to be integrated into his family....  but one step at a time.


Sunday, August 26, 2018

Is it Even Worth It?

In order for me to heal, recharge, feel like myself, I need to involve another person and that “taking a walk, break, breath” doesn’t work because I can’t clear my thoughts, but rather get lost in them when I’m alone.

I sat in a 24 hour laundromat last night and again this early morning at Echo Park lake.  Of course, I wasn't alone for long.  And whatever substance was swirling around in my body was messing with my mood, energy and concept of time.

I’m understanding more and more that gay people can be mean to each other.  I want to believe that people are nice, appreciative  and good intentioned and the side comments, casual shade and passive aggressive social media posts are just a character they play; no one really means to put down others.  But in actuality we can be pretty malicious.

Regardless of all of that, I just want to be everyone's friend. And I want to help plan your Saturdays and introduce you to other cool and nice people because I know how hard it could be to make new friends.  Or how busy we can get and forget to reach out to one another.

But - we all can't be friends.   And as a few faces no longer appear at these silly house parties that I put too much effort/self in, I can't but feel like it's because people are done with it.  Why bother trying to get everyone together when it feels like I'm forcing it upon them with direct personal invites.  I wonder if people decline because they’re just done with gay energy because of how abrasive and judgemental we could be.  Or maybe because people hooked up and it got awkward.   But it makes me happy to hear when the people that do come get something out it - they get to talk about personal things to people who get it, they find a new gym buddy, they approach a person they have a crush on... whatever it is, my space made it easier for them to connect.  At least that’s what I hope.

Yesterday was exhausting.  It was a marathon of drinking and smoking and it took a lot out of me to make sure people were having fun.  It took a lot out of me to force my roommates to decorate, clean, prepare and see them act in obligation.  It took a lot out of me to take to heart when someone who was supposed to help dismisses it.  It took a lot out of me to coordinate 18 different personalities around town event hopping in DTLA and I was worn down and feeling unappreciated.

As an attention seeking, self congratulating, party planner - feeling unappreciated is probably one of the most hurtful things for me to experience.  It makes me question if it was even worth it to get people together.

And it is.  Because that’s who I am and what I do.  And I may position these parties and get-to-gethers as a "safe space" for a "community of under represented, marginalized group of people" aka gaysians, but it's actually a safe space for me.  So that I don't feel alone... and being able to share it with you makes me whole and happy.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Asian Fetishist Exposed

I haven't had a house party in a while and we're going to do an end of summer day party with food and cocktails this coming Saturday.  I've been making new friends and wanted to invite them to the space and got this message from someone I recently invited. 

So, being a black man that likes other men of color -- with artistic, creative, outgoing, fun-loving southeast asian and pacific island men at the top of the list, and due to a finite amount of people who fit into that category that I find attractive and would also be willing to talk to a black guy, like myself. I have talked to a decent number of your friend group in some capacity...and out of the guys attending, the range of experiences varying from dating for 3 months to like just chatting on apps. I know we are all adults and truly appreciate the invite to be in that space and fellowship with you all, but I don't want to come across as impending on anyones space or using this as a tactic to get in with the group more than being a perifial friend. I understand it, personally, that is my intention...but I don't know how they would take it. So I am asking you because you know them a lot better. Thoughts.?

I ask back - "why are Asian Men on top of the list?"

there is no particular hierarchy amongst the men of color, but being from the east coast coming to the west coast I have interacted with asian men at a more significant rate here. That has increased my attraction to them in sense of biology and socio-culturally. My first boyfriend was also filipino, who played a significant role in me coming out and accepting my gayness -- since I was a pretty traditional, christian, black boy from the south. I find many moments of commonality that complements balance points that I have also been provided by my fellowship and other interactions with asian men (gay and straight).

So overall, it is part biology (as all physical attraction is) and the other is connection points (first boyfriend was filipino, college mentor was filipino, first tennis doubles partner in la a straight Chinese guy, two of my guncles (filipino and Chinese). I hope my response didn't across in any sort of negative way.

 To this I respond, "I see.  I appreciate the honesty and I owe it to you to be honest as well.  I’ve created a safe space for gaysian men who don’t feel like they have a place in weho, mainstream gay culture etc.  a space where they’re either ignored or objectified and nothing between. it’s a group of friends to be themselves and I invite people who I feel make sense to that space. When we first met, you were friendly, had good energy and I thought was very interesting which is why I extended the invite.  It’s not a space for people who have racial hang ups that dictate the type of people they date.  These meaningful people in your life just happened to be asian, but it shouldn’t mean that asianness is a default to the people you are interested in “biologically” or not.  I didn’t think it was your intention, but based on what you’re saying to me it feels very much like your intention."

I don't think I have ever voiced why this particular preference to anyone objectively. I usually go with my general, I like individuals, sometimes they have penises but sometimes they do not. Thanks for the honesty as well....and I definitely respect the space that you created. And mention those personal accounts to speak on direct connections with people who happen to be asian, trying to get at that it isn't just a blanketed approach but specific individuals that I happened to connect with. The mention of biological was only to speak to the aspect of attraction, like I don't think you can control who you are attracted to. Not that these interactions have shaped my biology. I don't think I am explaining this the best way

I advised him on what he should have said "All you needed to say was “thanks for the invite, I hope I’m not intruding.  I actually dated a few people on the guest list and I don’t want to make anyone feel awkward”

Sorry, that is what I was trying to say.

I kept it short to show that I wasn't buying his attempt to defend himself "...this analysis on Asian, top of the list, preference.... makes me uncomfortable."

I didn't mean for it to come across like that. Crap, I shouldn't have started that way. thinking about it, I approached it all wrong....trying to be fully transparent I placed emphasis on something that wasn't the point of the conversation. I wish I had synthesized it to the way that you did. I apologize for making you uncomfortable. I really screwed this one up. Truly, I just wanted to get your opinion on if it would be ok to attend after dating a few of your friend...but in doing so, I felt I had to defend the reasons why I dated (or attempted to date) multiple people who share the same friends. And that is what came out...and like you said the intention didn't match the impact. The first two sentences of the message took this conversation to a place that I didn't intend for it to and I can see how it could be perceived and how I would make someone uncomfortable in stating that -- which again wasn't my intention. My mind translated my heart in a way that I clearly can see now as being offensive and I apologize for that. Hope to see you at DTLA Proud. Sorry again, and thanks for the invite. I was looking forward to it, but again didn't want to make anyone feel uncomfortable that is why I mentioned it at all. Have a good day.

I left him hanging for a few hours.  I honestly didn't know what to say, but I made it clear that he can ramble and defend all he wants, but anyone who thinks this is an appropriate way to start a conversation with someone they barely know is not welcome.   Especially when that person is someone who hates objectification like myself.   "I've been in a few client meetings. Not trying to ignore you. Yeah - maybe we'll catch each other at DTLA Proud."


Thanks for letting me know. Hope to run into you at Proud.


=======

A few thoughts on this conversation.    I've read this over and over and I'm feeling empathetic.  His intention was to respect the space, but he did the opposite exposing his fetishism.  Jimmy told me he does NOT want him around.  I was going to expand on the conversation, but Jimmy stopped me from attempting to use black equivalence.   You'd think other POCs would understand that withering down a person to their race does not make people feel good.  However, his back peddling and apology shows that he knows he fucked up and there's nothing really more I can stay to educate.

Also - "dated a decent number of your friends" - sounds like you're going through a checklist.  No thank you.  This is not a candy store.


Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Summer Weekends in Los Angeles

Staying busy makes me happy.  This passed weekend was exceptional!

Friday: Summer Nights at the Natural History Museum Botanical Gardens - Always thought Silent Disco was stupid, but then it was actually fun with a good DJ.  Learned that the ants in our house are not native to Los Angeles, but actually from South America through the coffee trade.
Saturday: Chinatown Summer Nights - got sassy with boring straight guys taking valuable dance floor space.  Made a scene when they left shooing them away.  Led the group of 12 to Won Kok for some loud 2AM Chinese food.  Shu mai is apparently a breakfast item and made Jason uncomfortable that we ordered it.  That morning got inspired by Ikea and want to buy some good patio furniture.
Sunday: Venice Beach - learned how to boogie board.  The trick is to point the nose of the board downward to better catch the wave.

New restaurants old friends, new restaurants with new friends, old restaurants with new dishes.

And a boyfriend to capture it all:

Visual Diary: Lazy Summer from Jimmy Raymond on Vimeo.

Meal of the weekend: Soft Shell Crab Curry Ramen from Curry House in Little Tokyo.
A season dish that stayed on the menu due to popularity.

Not just watered down curry, but with ramen oil adding dimension.  Wish the egg was softboiled



It's already time to plan the next one!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Make A Wish

Today is my dad's 62nd birthday.

I almost forgot to call him, but my brother sent me a text.  I sent him an early birthday gift a while back, so on the actual day it slipped my mind.

My brother sent me a video of my dad blowing out a candle during dinner in San Jose.  You can see him taking the time to make a wish.  I don't know what he wished for, but I imagine it to be something related to family, health and happiness.

I was going through some texts and found one I sent to Kevin reminding him to get a birthday dessert for Huan during his birthday dinner a few weeks back.  I was being type A and assuming that Kevin would forget his boyfriend duties.  I took the liberty to send obnoxious texts

 For a while I didn't understand why I was so obsessive about "properly celebrating a birthday" during a dinner.  I had always told people that if you don't blow something out, it's just another dinner outing with friends.  We eat out so often that the only way to make it special is by sneaking to the restroom to and make the server rummage for candles and then making everyone sing awkwardly in public and embarrassing the birthday person.  It just HAS to be like that whether the birthday person likes it or not.

Watching this video made me realize that I get it from my dad.  He's sentimental.  He's selfless.  And for the one meal that meant to be for him, he makes sure to make a wish to be thankful for the gifts that life has given him.  He makes sure that for every one of my birthdays I'm at least given a card to make me feel special and loved.  Maybe that's why candle blowing is so important to me.  Because, simply, that's how I was raised: believing that making people feel special is important.

==

A close friend of mine told me that he made his boyfriend cry when he presented a one year anniversary gift.  It was a photo book.  It made me think about how lonely it could being gay.  How hard dating can be.  How selfish and guarded and difficult gay men are.  And rightfully so because growing up gay really fucked with us.   To be able to find a partner that loves you, sacrifices for you, matches you and appreciates you is worth crying about.  I feel like it only gets harder the older we get because we become used to just dating ourselves that we forget how to find room for others.  I have so many single friends that it makes me wonder if most of them have given up on finding a partner and living single is just the life that they've accepted and adapted to.  After all, finding a soulmate to marry is a hetero norm... and why does it have to be a thing?  And that growing old doesn't have to be lonely when you have your chosen family by your side. 

If anything RAGE can turn into the Retired Asian Gay Enclave. 
It's 70+ and half off Ensure powder drinks before 9PM.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

69 Cents



I really don't give a shit.  And I find creative ways to entertain myself.  So back in 2014, I was browsing the social feed of venmo to see where my friends were having dinner without me and paying each other back.  I noticed this guy who I thought was pretty cute and interesting based on his ... other payments.  We had one mutual friend.

So like any self respecting gaysian thirsty for friendship, I decided to send him a payment of $0.69 with a few fun emojis.  I never heard from him and just left it as a funny story, making my friends feel uncomfortable that I actually did something like that.  But whatever, this guy was in New York and he took my money.

Fast forward 3 years later to my Tokyo trip with my family in 2018.  I was dying for something that wasn't my family and I found myself at a gay bar.  In the sea of gays I see him and somehow remember his first name.   I never remember names especially this one since I've always referred to him as 69 cents.  I only had two drinks in me, but in addition to desperation for a familiar face I shouted his name.

He didn't hear me and walked on.  So... like a lion to a gazelle, I chased after him. 
"Is your name Jun?!"  I was super excited.  The gears in my psychotic mind were turning.
"yeah.. um... "
"you don't know me, but we have a mutual friend!  How are you?  What are you doing here?"  I talked to him like we had known each other for ages and he followed along.

He told me about quitting his job, how he's been traveling for months.  I think seeing another American was refreshing for him... and then he disappeared after 5 minutes.  That was just the right amount of time to make me feel better and less lost in a foreign place.  I was so exhausted with my family that anything that felt like home aka - gaysian-American, felt nice.


Obviously, I didn't mention the $0.69 part.  I'm sure he knew, but wanted to make myself seem as normal as possible.  Which I thought I was pretty successful in doing.

I send this picture to our mutual friend who was aghast that we "ran into each other."  More like I ran at him.  He then shared his chat with 69 cents.



Glad to see that the story matched up.  But then I noticed that our mutual friend covered some of the text previously.  I can only imagine what was censored.  But you know what... I don't give a fuck.  I'm just here to make people feel uncomfortable while I laugh at myself at my ridiculousness.

How to Find Random Gaysians Online... and Creep on Digital Strangers

The internet makes it too easy to find people.  Just need a first name and you can really go hunting especially gay people.  Why?  Because we're narcissists and need to show the world that we're doing okay by checking in, by oversharing, by posting constantly.

A quick glance at an instagram geo hashtag and you'll find a gay sprinkled in the mix.   But you can also do the reverse if you're looking to "discover."

Tonight's adventure starts on YouTube.

1. Start with popular, but not viral LGBT video on YouTube. Brian Jordan's Gender Fluid Fried video is my current choice.





















2.  Scroll the comments and find that gaysian thumbnail.  OH hayyyyyy.












3. Dig into their social media and subscriber list.  Oooo. Cultured.  I like that.





























4. Slide into their DMs.  I've decided to go with, "Wow! I've always wanted to go to Italy!"

Bam.  New gaysian friend.

"But Chris, how do you do this without coming off creepy?"

Hate to tell you, but... I'm creepy... and you can be creepy too.  The end.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

A Quick Birthday Post a Month After


In your 20s you feel every year.  You're counting down until you reach 30 which seems to be the deadline to achieve all of your goals.  After that, you're just.. "in your 30s."  And that's what it felt like when I turned 33 this year.   

Jimmy truly surprised me for my birthday bringing all our friends into our house for an impromptu party while I was trying to host a game night with new shy faces.  I was thrilled, but not prepared.  As I was frantically pulling out snacks etc. Kevyn whispered to me, "it's okay to not be in control Chris."  And after that I just relaxed and caught up with folks instead of playing with the playlist and lighting.  I got my ube cake and I made new friends and saw old ones.  Jimmy took me out to a nice hidden gem restaurant a week after called Oriel in Chinatown that has become a favorite.

I've noticed that my vision is weakening and I've had my 8th bloody nose yesterday during a client meeting.  I'm seeing a head specialist who will probably cauterize the vessels.  But it was a moment of embarrassment when my clients left me alone in the conference room while I gushed into a trash can for 20 minutes.  I've determined that digesting spicy foods is not the only physical issue to concentrate on.

I had a heavy weekend learning about my friend's drug abuse and trying to properly address it.  I learned about another friend's aunt who's essentially a vegetable because of potential surgery malpractice causing his family severe depression and stress.  It reminded me that our mental health needs to be taken care of along with our physical.

===

In over 10 years we finally took a family vacation to.... TOKYO!


Crammed into a one bedroom was my mom, dad, brother and his girlfriend.  My parents on the bed.  Brother and girlfriend on the floor in the living room and me on the side on a pull out.  Zero privacy for 7 days and it was exhausting.  Especially since I was expected to plan the entire thing minute by minute.  There was a moment I got sick and I had to navigate myself by home because my parents didn't probably know how to use google maps.  I guess, this is the turning point in which I have to be the one to take care of my parents despite how youthful they may seem.  But damn, I thought "family trip" meant that I just had to tag along.

On my actual birthday I again picked the place the eat and navigated everyone there.  It didn't feel special so I decided that not matter what, I was going to go to the gay neighborhood to get myself a birthday drink after ditching the family at the Airbnb.



I was alone at The Eagle, Tokyo in Nichome... a familiar brand, but not an English speaker in sight.  I was hoping to meet up with Ernesto who had stopped responded for a few hours.  He was there taking care of business with his partner, but just landed that afternoon.  I assumed the jetlag got the best of him.


But they arrived and took me to a drag bar which I enjoyed.  I needed some gayness to balance the family time.  Luckily I was able to connect with an instagram friend for another night to give me another needed break.

==

It's already 10PM and I should sleep.

Walk up at 5:20AM, catch the 6AM shuttle, Arrive at work at 7AM, catch the 3PM shuttle, arrive at home by 4:30PM, look up something to eat or cook.

Browse flipped homes in desirable locations.  Compare potential mortgages to current rent control, realize that the investment would make most sense for non existing off spring, close computer.

Repeat.

==

Monday, March 19, 2018

A Different Breed of Gays




We hosted another house party in February for Lunar New Year.   We called it "Year of the Doggy Style," and encouraged people to dress up to their interpretation.  As innocent as Snapchat dog ears to puppy play kink, but you know... our circle of friends, not from Weho went in a few directions as anticipated.

When you think of a dog themed gay party...

EXPECTATION





REALITY


Doge approves.

We we had some leather as well of course!




But that's the idea of creating a safe space.  Be as freaky as you want to be and whatever that means is up to you!



Fur-bulous!


Was laughing at this for 10 minutes.

Jimmy's Vlog:

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Two Old Gaysian Short Films that Surprised Me.

With HereTV's Falling for Angels: Koreatown, Chapter II train wreck that showcased a unrealistic interaction between two Gaysians in LA's Koreatown I decided to spend the morning watching some old gaysian shorts and I was pleasantly surprised.


The Golden Pin



This film addresses family obligation with blunt metaphors and good chemistry.  The Mom always knows.  I also love that the main character is a Vietnamese stud and that the white characters are just background.  The focus after all is about the Asian and his family and western elements are "the other."  He's also hot as fuck.

Yellow Fever



This film is SO 90s, but also so UK.  But the racial issues here are relatable.  The main character is intentionally insane.  He's hung up on his identity as a potato queen.  The moral of the story is summed up in this line, "when it comes to relationship, it should be about personality, not nationality."  Which is of course 90s talk for ethnicity.  The film exposes how ridiculous the gay community can be.

Falling for Angels: Koreatown
This was such a missed opportunity to showcase LA Gaysians; it felt like the director interviewed a handful of gaysians and smashed together his observations into one long terrible cringy dialogue.  It felt like it was going through a checkbox of things.  Actual quotes:

  • There's this metamorphosis that happens when you'r having sex looking into someone's eyes that look like your own
  • I knew that if i could love someone that looked like me, I could love myself
  • The [SGV gaysians] who grew here are like a different race, they're self confident and well adjusted and they breakdance.  It's like where's the neuroses of low self esteem? 
All of the issues covered identity issues.  But the gaysian community faces a lot more than just self hate.   They should have just scrapped the script and followed a group of four gaysian friends to Rage in Weho.  And then have them gossip at BCD Tofu house in Koreatown at 3AM featuring the following characters.
  • Slutty one who's careless, lonely and parties
  • Social Justice Warrior who doesn't practice what he preaches
  • Transplant with insecurities that overcompensates
  • One that's dating a white guy and addresses sticky-rice hypocrisy 
I can assume that the writer only knows gaysians who live in white spaces, who have and compete for white boyfriends.   These Gaysians, who are the sprinkle of color, struggle with predictable identity and rejection issues as the constant "other"  have been addressed enough.  Falling for Angels: Koreatown had the opportunity to expand outside those themes.Why not feature gaysians who are well adjusted and focus on their LA born/raised here specific lives?  Or is it unfair and alienating to show this utopian where the people you're interested want to date you back and that everything you do and speak is popular thought because both your high school and college were a majority Asian?

The first scene where the condom breaks was ridiculous.  It would have been more realistic if he discovers that the adopted Korean sleeps around A LOT and freaks out because of how nonchalant he is.  

"When was the last time you got test?!?"
"I don't know.. a few months ago.. don't worry about it.."

This would address hook up paranoia + hook up carelessness in two contrasting characters.  

Any way... I just hate missed opportunities.  


Sunday, February 11, 2018

Investing in Friendship

A few Fridays ago I stopped by a friends' apartment where I was greeted with sliced oranges seasoned with special salt purchased from their trip to Mexico city as well as a sampling of mezcal.  The mezcal was supposed to be less earthy, but there definitely smoke seeping through my glass.

He put on a record which included some eclectic loungy tunes.  His partner chuckled as I made jabs about the music.  As I sipped, I declared "man, you guys really know how to relax me, this is just what I needed to unwind on Fridays."  Though I declined special espresso beans, I felt my body absorb their good energy.  They were hosts that made sure I was comfortable.  No detail was missed.



After Jimmy arrived, we headed out to Honda-Ya for some izakaya.  Jimmy and I usually avoid izakaya because we're never really satisfied, but we realized we were doing it wrong.  In order to truly enjoy izakaya requires ordering everything and not being concerned about the price tag/value.  Too often, I put "value" or "price" on food/experience.  Noodles should cost this, pizza should cost this, meat on sticks should cost this, but what I didn't account for was the value of company. 

Our friends ordered everything that sounded delicious.  The plates stacked up.  Jimmy and I watched them bicker about ordering California Rolls.   Jimmy and I laughed nervously, but as always the bickering turned into teasing, turned into affection.  This couple in front of us argue so much, but it's because they're honest with each other.   And the honesty surpasses the criticism of food or music preference.



We got the group together to sing karaoke after dinner in our usual VIP room- a playlist that included high school rock, Japanese pop, Bjork and Rihanna.  At the end of the night it clicked...

...that I need to invest in friendship the way these guys do.  By hosting, by caring, by being honest, by putting value on good company.  I want to be less calculated with my generosity.

2018, I told myself that I want to be better.  I've already failed in a few ways, but it's a work in progress.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Ridesharing Stories

I enjoy this forced interaction with strangers when taking Uber / Lyft.  Something about learning about what people are up to and broadening my understanding of this complex, yet simple city I live in.  And they don't mind talking usually.  My questions are structured:

  • How's your day going?
  • Been driving for a while?
  • What neighborhood do you live in?
  • Is this your full time gig or are do you have other projects?
People in LA love talking about where they live.  This is how I learn about back lounges, restaurants, and venues and quickly bookmark if it's interesting.  They also have other projects and don't mind talking about them since Uber/Lyft is just a way to get some cash while they work towards something bigger.  These four questions are sufficient in getting a good conversation going.  And my rides are that much more pleasant.  Here are a few stories I shared on Facebook, but I want to continue to blog about them here.


January 2018
My driver this week told me that he managed the popular Nick's Cafe in Chinatown for two years. The owner told him to count every raisin that he gave the customers and would close the store randomly when the venue was used for filming. This is where most of the revenue comes from. The owner hated him and told him that she didn't need him. So he quite and the store remained closed for three months. "What? she said she didn't need me," he was sassy. "Any way, I'm going to open my own restaurant called 'Frit-Ta-Tas'. Everything will look like boobies...the eggs will have nipples."


December 2017 - Various
Today's driver told me about her Mac and Cheese recipe, her late ex-husband who's best friends with Muhammad Ali, and her sisters who love to drink. At the end she gave me a candy cane. .
Last week my driver told me how he worked in Office rental sales and how burnt out he became.
Another guy was a rapper and was interested in how I think cool neighborhoods die once they become wealthy and popular.
A passenger in a shared ride told me he owned two LA bars. Another passenger was an extra and was heading to film a train scene.
Another was a mom looking for a new place to live while going to school.
Another guy told me that he worked for movie studios in set design and that the hand on the volleyball (Wilson) from Castaway was actually his.
In LA, getting from here to there is a struggle, and for me story telling makes the journey more pleasant.

More stories to come.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Finding in Joy In Sharing Random Objects

When people see our elaborate photobooths from the parties, there's always two questions: where do you find this stuff and what do you do with it after?  OfferUp is my favorite app to buy and sell random things.  Craigslist isn't reliable and your listings expire after two weeks.  However, with every prop that I buy and sell comes a pretty good story.

The Locker - Andrew and I bought it from an artist who used it to "store his guns."  We didn't know if he was joking or not, but he was living in east downtown in a garage with a mattress on the floor.  He was moving out.  After using it for Try Outs and also our Halloween Party which was Mean Girls themed (Boo!  You Whore), I sold it to a barbershop owner who was going to paint it to match his shop and then let his barbers store their personal belongings.  Thought that was pretty cool.  He brought his buddy to bring it down the stairs.  Thank gawd because it took all 4 of us to drag it up the stairs and it was a bit of a hazard.

Locker room and Threeway Call with Cool Mom

The Lacrosse Stick ($4 at Goodwill) - It was just a prop for TryOuts and apparently worth $80-$100 new.  I sold it today to a girl who just joined a team in high school.  She was super excited.  I told her she could have it for free and he dad told me he would ship me some coffee beans because he was a coffee roaster.  They were such a cute family and super grateful.  They drove 40 minutes to meet me at Silverlake Reservoir and stayed to play with it.  That actually inspired this post.



New Years Decorations - Joe hosted a NYE party in New York in 2016 and didn't know what to do with the props and decorations, so he shipped it to me.  I gave it Nathan so that he can decorate his party "Fyre Festival: Till the World Ends" for this year.  Joe told me how happy he was that his things had a second life after I sent him a picture of the decorations up in Nathan's apartment.



The Glow in the Dark Barrel - The First "Asian Glow" Party we did in 2013 Andrew bought this barrel from a farmer and painted it highlighter yellow.  It was the first of 3 blacklight parties where I would install 8 blacklights and turn everything off.  This one was fun; we had highlighters and folks drew on each other. We also high neon yarn and made it look like lasers were shooting everywhere.  I've since sold the blacklights to some teenagers and also the barrel which is now in a music video.



Salon Chair - In 2016, we thought we were going to get evicted because the owner wanted to "move in," so we hosted a "Sia Later" wig party.  Andrew found this salon chair on Criagslist.  The photos were hilarious.  After that, I sold it to a young hipster who wanted to use it to decorate their house.  Weird.


ShenYun Legs - We had a party called "ShenYun: A Must See."  And Andrew of course, comes up with this crazy idea to make it look like we were doing the splits with PVC piping.  Of course, he based it off his 6'1 body so it didn't quite line up with everyone else who was normal Asian height unless you faced your back to the camera.  It was a Asian fabric dance party, not a Chinese party... let's be clear everyone.  The legs show up again in the TryOut showers and the MeanGirls Halloween party.  You know, when Caddy falls into the trash can in the hallway?  Stretching it?  I sold it to this lady who used it for some display/craft project.  Wonder where what really happened to them and I'm kinda sad I sold them cuz I feel like I could have reinvented them.  BUT we still have those red shoes that look super good on Charles.



David as Kimora Lee Simons



See the legs in the shower in the back?

Jurassic Park Jeep - For Andrew's birthday, we hosted a "Dat-Ass-Ic Park" party and our friend Daniel bought a barbie power wheels and painted it to look like the Jurassic Park Jeep.  You can see the purple interior on the wheel.  BTW, this photo made me laugh so hard when I found it.  I sold it to someone during Halloween who was competing in work group costume contest and wanted to roll into the conference room with it.  We've established that Andrew really really likes parties with Movie themes.



Anyway, the point of this post is that I buy super random things and it makes me sad to see these found objects just laying in the room after a good party.  I think trashing them is wasteful and donating them isn't as satisfying because you don't know where it'll end up.  It brings me so much joy when I find others who actually appreciate them, giving them new life!  Now... what to do with that random Titanic chair... ANDREW! UGH!

Try Outs: What Team Do You Play For?

When we were brainstorming the theme for our September party we didn't think we could top "Shade by the Bell" from 2016.   Then something clicked... Sports themed.  Try Outs... and then it just came to us "What Team Do You Play For?"  What was originally going to be another high school theme with a class photo backdrop evolved into a homo erotic locker room party replaying all of the nervousness we went through in high school during P.E.

I always want to make these themes easy for my friends to participate and I'm always impressed when they come in an outfit with some thought into it.  SeanCody / CorbinFisher / RandyBlue much?  But less white, more Asian.


A couple of favorites:


Rebel and Teacheer


Just me after a few drinks

Creepy nerd and Don made a 321 shirt!

Team fabulous

This is how you do it, right?

The Breakfast Club

Me.. being me

The only people who know how to play sports there

Typical Charles jumping all over everyone



Roommates!

Band geek!  Jimmy got nervous when he was actually blowing this around

Threeway scissors

He wore his cheerleader outfit!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Being Better in 2018


There was a moment in Hawaii after a lot of drinking when Jimmy called me entitled.  In the hotel restaurant at 2AM, I got upset when Jimmy wouldn't sit with me while the kitchen staff reheated my food.  I obnoxiously responded to his awkwardness, "I paid for this overpriced hotel, It's okay that I asked that they reheat my leftovers."  It was all inline with policy, but Jimmy wouldn't sit with me because he felt bad for the staff.  He was embarrassed and said that I was acting entitled.  I told him sharply in a drunken state that people can call me cheap, tacky, naive .. whatever, but to call me entitled or wasteful was the worst thing you can say to me and I did nothing wrong by asking the 24 hour kitchen to reheat some food.  I was upset that he made it a big deal and I was furious that he called me something that I was so disgusted by and took that opportunity to tell him that I hated hotels, but instead of lashing back at my ridiculousness he told me something that made me feel extremely guilty.

He told me that when he was young, his family couldn't afford to stay in hotels so they would just drive by and he would pretend that he was staying there.  To be able to stay on a beach side hotel now that he's older was an absolutely luxury for him.  While I roll my eyes at the extra fees and announced that I'd rather stay in a poorly kept AirBnb with no AC for a fraction of the price, he was enjoying something that he thought he could never have.  He was already thankful for being there.

I started to cry... cry heavily... because I was drunk and because I was so upset at myself and because of his story.  And I apologized and told him that I would be better.  "We had such a wonderful night, let's just live for that," he responded and that's what we did.

At times it seems like I do a lot for him, but he does even more for me by being patient, loving and understanding which is why we've been together for so long.  My new years resolution for 2018 is to be better.  A better person, a better boyfriend especially now that it's our 7 year anniversary.


I've made many mistakes that I've held close to my chest.  There is so much temptation to be selfish, but I need to remember that we're in it for the long run and that together we can be better people at least for each other.