This is how the game of the chicken would have happened

June 25th, 2016

The SUV blocked our way. Two women, not of the hipster variety, blocked our path. We were turning left, and they were turning left from the opposite flow of traffic. But our paths intersecting. Who was supposed to yield? Who went too far? Who drove without anticipating and arrived there unceremoniously blocked our path? Honk, we yelled through the car’s windshield. It was a clear statement: we can’t move, because you’re in our way. But you can’t move either, because you’re in our way. And we don’t want to get in an accident do we?

Inside, I felt a flow of irritation. Back up!

But this is what I would have done.

Like toddlers in tantrum, we would have stood still, locked in a dead stare. No gas. Just brake. If you want to fight, I’ll fight. We’ll stare each other down, giving the control to the car. I am in no rush. You don’t want to hurt me, and I don’t want to hurt you. I can stand here all day. I would be calm and collected, as you wave your arms in the air. After all, the fact that I did nothing is simply not illegal. We both had the right of way. And it’s more likely that you’re in my path. Traffic obstruction? You’re more likely to have yielded to me, because I have more endurance.


Instead, we reversed and let the SUV go. And the anger flared. The irritation at an inconvenience continued as cyclists barreled through intersections and pedestrians jaywalked on a red light. I grasped my cautious self—a natural desire to play it safe constantly no matter what I vehicle I used. preservation first, and stand your ground.

“There’s nothing you can do,” I said. “There’s nothing you can do.”

Rejection is…

June 14th, 2016

…a fierce shadowy leopard. The claws are sharp and pierce deep into the cloak of hope. You thought for a moment that it was all safe under there. You were optimistic that everything was working out. After all, nobody talked about the leopard and its black sleek coat that would dazzle you at the same time as it would shun you.

They tell you to always stand tall and ask for what you want boldly. But when you arrive, you sense the leopard, so you walk round and round it. You wish that you were like the others who don’t see the leopard and march boldly in. Their skin is so thick, their cloak already has been cut, but they have thick armor now with nicks that underneath, they don’t feel a single thing even if the leopard strikes.

You want to run away because you don’t have that armor yet. But you turn away for a moment, blinded by the sun, and you go ahead. Then you open your mouth to ask and there’s the leopard again. Before it even strikes, you feel the pain and you quickly acquiesce as if you were expecting to be struck. You know that it is possible to get struck, but you know for certain that it’s not every time. Yet this time, you cower in fear even before being struck as if you expected it. The pain is overwhelming, but after it subsides, the wound smarts and now you’re angry that you didn’t wait until it struck. You’re irritated that you allowed yourself to be struck and worse of all, you invited it. Where was that armor? Where was your own fierceness? The white leopard that was inside you to strike back?

“I am going to be mad at you for the rest of my life.”

June 13th, 2016

“I am going to be mad at you for the rest of my life,” Cheryl Strayed said during a disagreement with her husband.

Amused by her statement, her husband wrote it down and stuck the note on the refrigerator, where it sat for a decade.

I first heard Cheryl describe this scene on the Dear Sugar podcast. She mused that at first glance, the statement sounded like perpetual rage. Yet when she looked closer, her intent is that she chose to be with him despite the rage. That there is nobody on earth that deserves that rage, that anger, that disappointment.

And to me, that was a beautiful sentiment.

Relationships are messy. Long gone is my former belief that love was this magical thing—the kind where two people spot each other from across the room and bam, a spark rumbles into a rolling fire. Besides the fact that this moment never happened to me (if it did, it certainly was not mutual), I learned that persistence and endurance is what matters in relationship. In the face of conflict, it is the partner that one can blame. Because simply put, the partner is there. They witnessed all the drama, the rejection, and failure, how can they not be partially to blame? Because they were present? Of course what I mean by that is they chose to be present and not to leave at the sight of conflict. That the nuance in all of this is the madness of persisting and enduring. That we chose one other to be mad at for the rest of our lives. Because without that other person, nobody will ever know that we existed.

What would have your younger self said to your older self?

June 10th, 2016

I couldn’t but respond just so.

Because in a former era, I relished the way that people clashed and conflicted. Having spent my younger years always so guarded, I wanted to be involved. So involved I was. But the drama, I learned, wasn’t worth fighting and playing. So I quieted down and prefer to remain on the sidelines. I matured in other ways.

But I am sure that my younger self would not like that. Plus with all my thinking.

Even without that generalization, my younger self would probably be in admiration. “You have all this?” she would say. “And you weren’t afraid? How did you become not afraid? How did you still get to what you wanted to do? And stay true?”

I would tell her. But she would also be disappointed in my habits. “What happened to writing every day? I write every day,” she would tell me. “I never have stopped once. Because it’s what I do. It’s who I am. So then, who are you?”

I smell it

June 7th, 2016

Not about that foul odor in the living room. Not about that now.

But rather I smell the yearning from someone. It doesn’t feel right, and I don’t know why. In conversation, by the words and their behavior, I immediately know. It’s as if their goals were copied from someone else—like the way I used to admire another girl in school and had told myself that I wanted to be like her in the 7th grade. I sense the desire that intensifies with every year. It starts with a bit envy and collapses into dangerous jealousy. But it curbs slightly, because he or she realizes that steps must be taken. So steps are taken, they are moved forward quickly, often without full knowledge. It’s lacking the true depth, because those steps were taken to achieve the goal. It doesn’t come with the usual path, the usual journey.

And I suppose that’s the definition of a poseur. And yet, perhaps the reason that I can smell one is because I smell it on myself.

And yet.

Today, I spoke to a designer who claimed to have more than 10 years of experience. But I was surprised by her lack of knowledge of the industry and the typical design philosophy. We don’t have to be all alike, but she behaved as if she already had the experience, already had the roles, but she didn’t, and it confused me.

No words needed

June 6th, 2016

Over the weekend, I stood at my booth (most of the time) to engage people. No sunglasses (unlike my neighbor who for some reason wanted to hide her blue eyes which were quite evident on her cover). No phone (unless I was trying to social media-ize my tent) or perform a sale transaction. I stood and engaged with people, asked them about their ice cream experience—where they have gone, what they have had, what their last ice cream was.

“Do you like ice cream?” I may start. Or “I assume that you’re an ice cream lover? I hope so!” Or “Do you like ice cream? Or…do you love ice cream?”

Most of the time, it was resounding yes. Most of the time.

But during the lulls, I watched Chris spin his pole with an attached inflatable ice cream cone to hopefully drive passerbys into the booth. Spin once. Thrust. Catch. Wave. Circle. Fall.

Appearing at the book festival!!!

June 2nd, 2016

A little self-promoting never hurt anyone, right? Find me this weekend’s Bay Area Book Festival, where I’ll have a booth to promote my book, Ice Cream Travel Guide.


This is how my intro on Chef’s Table would be like…

May 27th, 2016

(if I was a famous, awesome, cool, world-renowned, spectacular, lauded chef and could articulate my philosophy around food)

Taste is a subjective experience. What you believe is the best food may another man’s worst food. We must not forget that. When creating the best dish, I want to make it attractive and appealing. And yet, how can I scold the customer who tastes my dessert and find it too sweet? How can I turn away the woman who has a peanut allergy? What I do know about taste is that it comes from purity. Let people taste the real food, because there’s little argument with that. Mint tastes like mint. Beets like beets. Chocolate like chocolate. Oranges like oranges.

Supposedly Julia Child said to Alice Waters of Berkeley’s Chez Panisse, “That’s not good cooking. It’s good shopping.”

I believe in sustainable practices. I believe in locally grown food.  I believe in quality produce. If I could, I would just eat fruits all day, because they represent the true result of farming. One peach originates not just from the pollination of a flower, but its plant filled with leaves soaking sun and the roots pulling in water. Then it takes months to grow into what is a crisp sweet crunch of stone fruit. The peach is a culmination of what I may even call art. I mean, it captures the differing shades of the sun into a single spherical object.

A chef’s job is to play with these flavors and present them to food lover. It’s to remind them of memories—of the past in childhood, of the present moment, of the future hope. I want to change minds to experience what they never had previously, but also reflect what they have always had. That is my goal in creation.



In my childhood bedroom…

May 23rd, 2016

Even though it isn’t quite the definition of a childhood bedroom, since I moved in here when I was 9, I still enjoy the visits. The viciousness of the teenage years has disappeared into the ether and is replaced with this nostalgia for the dreams and hopes that I once had.

Each shelf and drawer holds a memory caught in time. The spiral of key chains when I thought that I was going to be a key chain collector. The small album of wallet photos with fashion photography once the rage of teenagers, especially Asian Americans in love with the soft glow of professional photography. The cassette tapes collected in a crate, probably once played, purchased for the purposes of seeming cool. The former bathroom cases from college when showers were shared and not stationary. The computer parts that I had collected over time. And so much more.

I sit on my bed, but it’s the mattress purchased during college on a frame from my grandmother’s house, because she couldn’t take a bed that was too high off the ground. And a clock on the wall that has been stuck on the same time for ears. Because who reads an analog clock anyway when a laptop and mobile devices are so close?

Birthday Wishlist 2016

May 21st, 2016

Just in time! Now what to ask for…

Previous years: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, forgotten year in 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, a forgotten year of 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002

1. Presence > Present always!
2. Endless access to tasty snacks (that don’t necessarily create a headache or tummy ache later) like fresh fruits (Cara Cara oranges, Pink Lady apples, bright peaches and nectarines, blueberries, strawberries), spoonfuls of ice cream and sorbets, and CANDY
3. Better marketing tactics to sell my book, Ice Cream Travel Guide and success at the Bay Area Book Festival where I have an exhibition table
4. Support for my novel-in-progress whether in the form critiques, beta readers, and just flowing ideas; I wouldn’t mind some historical facts from the era and locales where my grandparents lived (1920s/1930s/1940s China? 1930s/1940s Peru? 1920s Phillippines? 1960s Hong Kong?)
5. Photography skills with mobile devices
6. More storage on my computer or externally on a physical hard drive or cloud storage
7. Better socks
8. And a way that is environmental to dispose of my broken socks and stained clothes
9. Creative writing classes? Yup!
10. Pitching successfully to a popular publication
11. A second monitor for my desk (it’s crazy how frequently this keeps coming up…if I only could have a second monitor as I work on this design…)