All posts in: Life

10 Apr 2021

Saturday Notes

Even though I’ve spent time on more thoughtful pieces lately, I notice I’m posting on Yow Yow! less. It’s a combination of day to day life, work, exploring video, but a chunk of it is preparing myself to go back to a normal life. Combing through posts from last year and revisiting them on Yow Yow! the photos feel far. This photo was posted last July of Cafe Noe’s opening and it feels like ages ago. Back then, it was weird that restaurants and coffee shops were even considering opening up in a pandemic. But they felt what all of us felt; a desire to return to normalcy. I still recall stepping into this cafe and thinking ‘what a great spot to work at on a weekday from a booth.’ With no end of the pandemic in sight, I wasn’t sure when I’d get the chance.

These past few weeks have been a frenzy of ‘have you gotten the vaccine?’ ‘How and where did you get it?’ I’m still grasping that we lived in this world for a year. And as excited as I am to return, a part of me will miss this life. The slower pace and minimal obligations and in general, full accountability and responsibility for just myself. I’ll admit that while I was comfortable with not overexerting myself during this time, I felt the FOMO of watching my own friends continue with their lives. To see them reach new milestones while I was on pause by choice made me feel unaccomplished. While there wasn’t a standard for all of us, I constantly wondered if I could be doing more.

It’s human nature to measure your success with those around you. And as we exit this part of our lives and enter a new chapter, I just hope that I can remember how nice this time could be. That there will always be an option to pause.

31 Mar 2021

Let’s Talk About “Where Are You From?”

The people who ask this question are all the same. They think they’re asking because they see themselves as a curious individual. In their head, they’ve already got you pegged for where they think you’re from and it can’t possibly be from America! You’re not Caucasian so that’s just impossible because what year are we even living in? They wait on bated breath for your answer because once you say where, they’ve got the perfect response. Are you ready for it? They can say “hello” in that country’s language. Wow so cultured. They once met someone that is the same ethnicity as you. And they just looooooove the one dish that everyone knows your country is known for. “So do you like, make pho at home also?” “Oh my god, that’s so interesting.”

Meanwhile, I play this tired out scenario in my head. Do I give them what they want or do I challenge them and say that I was born and raised in North Seattle. Why is it that the latter answer is never good enough for them? The other thing that irks me about this question is that it always comes from someone that you don’t care about. They come from small interactions with people you only encounter briefly. Why ask a question that you know will go nowhere? That you don’t realize that I will try and get out of immediately. Obviously the people that ask lack social awareness – that’s not even a question, but why do they all have to be so god damn tacky? 

Chriselle Lim said this in a much more polite manner, which is that we know the people who are asking are well-intentioned 95% of the time. Unfortunately for you, our lives have been littered with this question asked by people who were not and because of that we shut off. We’re triggered and we don’t want to answer this anymore. I already have a plan for the next time it’s directed at me which is to pretend that I didn’t hear it. If that makes you feel awkward and uncomfortable, imagine how I feel.

26 Mar 2021

A Golden China Beach

We are now past the one-year mark of being in a pandemic. I look back on this time and remember how rare it was for anyone to be outside initially. My neighborhood, typically crowded on normal days, was a ghost town. As months went on, taking daily walks and being in outdoor spaces became the norm. It was a good opportunity for me to even spend time in areas that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Having only been to China Beach a couple times before, I finally had a sudden urge to drive there after work one night as the sun went down. I was by myself and it was freezing so it wasn’t the picture perfect experience I envisioned it would be. But I knew, despite that, I couldn’t have this experience in Seattle – being less than 30 min away from a beach and walking on real sand.

As things start to look up for everyone post-pandemic and we go back to normal, a small part of me is going to miss these moments of calm. Who or what will remind us that when we don’t have much to do, we can just drive out to the beach for a quick stroll?

22 Mar 2021

Safety and Speaking Up

Before we were in official pandemic lockdown, I was in an Uber where my driver was speaking to myself and another passenger about the coronavirus and how it originated because people in China eat “weird things.” It was late in the evening. I was tired and as uncomfortable as I felt, I didn’t have the energy to engage with racism. When do we ever have the energy for these types of conversations that happen over and over again? Sitting in the front seat I wondered if I had clapped back, what would happen to me? He clearly knew I was Asian when I entered the vehicle, was he testing me? What are the odds that we engage in a civilized conversation where we hear each other out vs. something that escalated further?

Too often in my life, I feel like I’m forced to make a choice. Do I want my voice or do I want my safety? As I read all of these [anti-racism posts] from other Asians and the statements they’ve put out, I think back to online bullies behind the screen. You can be tough behind a screen because of some anonymity. You can also be brave with your words behind a screen, but when faced with a real life moment, can you show up in the same way? In the last year, I am 0/2 on anti-asian racism directed at me.

I spend a lot of energy reflecting on these two moments. I replay moments like these in my head for no good reason other than wondering what could’ve happened that specific day if I had spoken up. I wonder if someday I’ll have a redemption moment – one in which I fight back with my words against racism or shut someone down so quickly they feel defeated or better yet embarrassed. My previous history doesn’t say much for my chances in this, but I remain hopeful.

Everyone wants to be the person that can have a quick comeback in any situation. Instead, these moments remind me of a more painful childhood. They were wasted years of being the punching bag for anti-asian jokes and hurtful racism. Why did I desire popularity so much and why did having friends feel like currency? The more I had, the richer my life became. If my friends laughed, so did I. But if your friends are laughing at you, you have to force your own laughter. I couldn’t afford to be friend-less so my only option was to continue to take it. Laugh it off and remind myself that it will end soon and hope that eventually we’ll all find something else to laugh at. Adult me knows better. If this ever happened to me now, I wouldn’t waste my time, but younger me was young and vulnerable. Having friends means you’re like everyone else. You blend in – it’s the thing that many of us have so desperately desired as Asian Americans.

Among friends, I’ve been referred to as “the easy target.” It was the response I got when I would ask “Why I’m being picked on” or questioning if we were actually friends? “Of course we are, you’re just an easy target”. Made to sound endearing, how silly of me to think that it was something negative when the attention was on me. As I see and hear this phrase now as the rationale between why [our elderly Asian are being murdered] and attacked, these words are piercing and painful. The label of “easy target” carried into my adult life, and has now spread to our entire race. 

Though I feel very far from my childhood, [these string of recent attacks] remind me of the mental and emotional pain that I endured for many years. As an Asian American adult in my 30s, I feel scared and once again, small and weak. It’s the thing as of late that has put a target on our backs and fed into these harmful stereotypes. I hate this because Asian people are not weak and as we have seen in the last week, [they are resilient] and not afraid to fight back. 

The sentiment is well-intentioned. Use your platform, use your voice, educate the people you know. However, there’s something else that’s not being said that deserves empathy and understanding. Those that are being impacted by these events are silent because we have had to be silent for a long time – sometimes for survival. Not all of us are ready to open these wounds yet and we need to allow space and time for people to get there. I understand the urgency in this moment right now, but we can’t force anyone. We all process on our own time. 

I’m supposed to end my posts with a call to action. If there’s something you take away from this please know that this period of time where Asians have to constantly defend themselves against violence, hate crimes, and hate speech is hard for us. Some people may be like me and are more comfortable thinking a bit longer about things and being intentional that you miss your opportunity to act. It’s not always intentional, but a learned habit. If you are someone that witnesses – sees or hears any POC being attacked and you feel safe to do so, please step in. Speak up or use yourself physically to create space between the targeted and the attacker. That is allyship.

Author’s Note: This is my own personal narrative, I do not want to make assumptions about others’ experiences, pain, or trauma nor generalize the Asian American experience as a whole. I hoped to share a piece of myself and my story with you while understanding that everyone’s experience is unique despite the common thread of being Asian.

Resources to support Asian Americans:

20 Mar 2021

A Note For This Week

Like many of you, I am still grappling with my feelings and my words on how to describe or even make sense of what happened this past week in Atlanta. I can’t. And it’s going to take me more than a few days to process. What I won’t do is mince words. If the media and the police dept. won’t say it, I will. This was absolutely a hate crime. There is no other way to see it. If you are someone that is publicly saying that 6/8 people killed having been Asian women at three targeted massage parlors is not a hate crime, you are making a racist statement. Ask yourself why you are defending a 21-year old gunman who has done this and what purpose this serves you. How do people begin to defend the gunman? Because he likes pizza, music, and God? And why is calling it a “hate crime” something you cannot acknowledge? Acknowledge human lives.

I’m sure when I’m ready, I will put together something more structurally sound – maybe more grammatically correct. For now, as I continue to gather myself, I want to share out a few pieces that have been written or created by other AAPI people on the aftermath of not only this week, but what we have been facing for the last year.

15 Mar 2021

Taking Your Birthday Off

For the first time ever, I’m taking my birthday off. In previous years, I’ve always loved celebrating my day with my friends and coworkers. What’s the fun in taking the day off (on your birthday) if no one else can spend it with you? Even while I’ve taken trips or celebrated on the weekends, I never took the work day off. That is, until this year.

I’d be lying to you if I said I had a particular joyous birthday last year in the pandemic. My birthday happened to fall at the beginning of it as in, the period of time where no one left their house, saw each other, and San Francisco neighborhoods were a ghost town outside. Despite gifts and multiple video chats that day, it wasn’t the same. I knew this year a birthday would also feel like every other work day so how do we solve for it? Try something different.

Not only am I taking my birthday off, but I’m taking a whole four work days off! In pandemic times, it isn’t easy to take time off because nothing seems worthy of doing so. And honestly, staycations don’t hit the same. While I may not be doing much, it’s totally beats having a normal work day and I’d rather be spending time doing what I want. Even though it’s completely approved by my manager, we still feel like we’re playing adult hooky.

14 Mar 2021

Blog Roundup

  • 7 Meghan Markle Interview Bombshells That’ll Make You Anti-Royalist [Vulture]
  • How SF Restaurants Have Rearranged the Room for Indoor Dining [SF Eater]
  • The Death of Take-Home Design Exercises [Meaghan Li | Medium]
  • Revisiting the Great Covid Social Media Scold [Vanity Fair]
  • Steve Yuen’s New Frontier [GQ]
  • Asian Bodies That Proudly Defy An Archetype [HuffPost]
  • A Thailand Mall Has Two San Francisco-Themed Floors [SF Gate]
  • This Is Our Asian-American Experience [Byrdie]
  • Korean TV’s Unlikely Star: Subway Sandwiches [NY Times]
07 Mar 2021

Blog Roundup

  • 13 Things A Designer Would Never Do In Their Living Room [My Domaine]
  • The 43 Breathable Face Masks to Shop Now [Vogue]
  • FKA Twigs Discusses Shia LaBeouf Allegations in Gayle King Interview [The Fader]
  • Margaret Zhang Named Editor-In-Chief of ‘Vogue’ China [Fashionista]
  • Marin County May Be the Fakest ‘Woke’ Place in America [The Bold Italic]
  • Ten Years Later, ‘Greek’ Remains TV’s Gold Standard for the College Experience [The Ringer] not my college experience, but a series I loved!
  • Trailer for Michelle Obama’s Waffles + Mochi [Source]
  • Why I’m No Longer Staying Silent About Anti-Asian Racism by Sophia Li [Vogue]
  • Chloe Zhao’s America [Vulture]
  • We said goodbye to Daft Punk after 28 years
  • Swallowing Our Bitterness [The Cut]
  • The Future of Work Might Look Like This [Surface Mag]
  • I Love You, Please Get Vaccinated [The Cut]
  • The Invisible Artistry of Asian Actors [The Atlantic]
05 Mar 2021

This Weekend

What We’re Watching: Nomadland

After watching the Golden Globe Awards last weekend, I’m feeling a bit of FOMO having not seen many of the films and television series that were nominated. Given the last year, you would think we’d be on top of it. Somehow we missed 75%. In an attempt to catch up, I decided to watch “Nomadland” after work today. It was high up on my list because the film’s director, Chloe Zhao took home a Golden Globe win! I’m naturally attracted to films that tell stories about different kinds of people. It’s one of the reasons why we love Lisa Ling’s “This Is Life.” “Nomadlife” balances showing us the perspective from Francis’s point of view as a nomad, but also from the outside looking in. It’s about strength, loneliness, loss and community all in one.

What We’re Listening To: Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak, Silk Sonic – Leave the Door Open

It was a week ago that I learned that Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak and Silk Sonic would all be teaming up together for an album. Believe it or not, we had this on the agenda to post about and then time got ahead of us. Now it’s one week later and the single is out alongside a music video. I can’t put my finger on what this single reminds me of, but it brings back old school laid back R&B vibes for me that I loved as a child. These days, music just doesn’t sound like this anymore and I’m nostalgic for this to come back.

What We’re Wearing: [Lunya Washable Silk Tank Set] – $178

Technically, we don’t own this yet and I’m still on the fence about it. I’ve been seeing Lunya all over my IG for the last year and while I’ve always been used to wearing whatever to bed. As I think about entering further into my 30’s, I’m wondering if I need adult woman pajamas. Also, is there anything better than washable silk? The price tag is hefty, but the reviews say they’re worth it!

What We’re Eating: Ju-Ni Chirashi Bowl

Indoor dining has opened up in San Francisco, but we’re not quite ready to do that just yet. It’s time for my monthly visit to Ju-Ni to snag their Chirashi Bowl for takeout and this Sunday we’re taking ours to the park.

27 Feb 2021

This Weekend:

What We’re Watching: 2021 Golden Globe Awards

My sense of time is just gone at this point! How have we already made it to the end of February? I can’t even believe that we’ve reached the point of the 2021 Golden Globe Awards because while I know I’ve watched a lot, in some ways, I feel like I have watched nothing? Is anything I watched even nominated? It feels like we’ve also missed out on a whole year of red carpets which all of you know is one of my favorite parts about award show season. Despite this being another abnormal year, I’m still looking forward to the event. We’ll clear our schedule and make the most of it.

What We’re Listening To: Giveon

TikTok has the ability to introduce me to a lot of new music. The only downside is that it’s not always timely. Many of the songs have been released for some time, but evidently its TikTok and its users that give the tracks a revival. Because of a recent trending dance, Giveon’s “HEARTBREAK ANNIVERSARY” has been all over my For You page. And while I love it, I feel so behind because it came out a year ago! We’re used to wanting to stay ahead in the music world, but TikTok doesn’t care about that and will make things relevant when it makes sense.

What We’re Wearing: [Knitted Sweater and Shorts Lounge Set] – $53 $26.50

Okay so I’m lazy and I haven’t actually planned ahead for my outfits this weekend, but I can tell you now that I’m wearing a pair of knit lounge shorts from Nasty Gal. They aren’t the same ones as above, but I wanted to give you a sample of what they are like and if you wanted your own, this seems like a great set to buy!

What We’re Eating: Devil’s Teeth

Since it’s a beautiful weekend in San Francisco, my friends and I headed out to Devil’s Teeth this morning (my first time at this SF staple!) and picked up breakfast which we took to the beach. I didn’t actually get the popular breakfast sandwich, but my friends did! Instead, I opted for something a little lighter: a slice of meaty quiche (bacon!) and a donut muffin as my dessert for tonight.

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