When you are no longer just one

Recently, someone said recently, “It’s not the same anymore…you’re no longer just one.”

For years, I scoffed at couples. Especially the kind that would disappear and forget that friends ever existed. I vowed I wouldn’t be one of them. Invite me out to something? Of course! Girls night out? Yes, of course. Clubs, bars, whatever? Yes, of course (that is if I am not in my “I feel too old” phase). Let a male friend crash at my apartment? Yes, as long as the guy did not push the wrong buttons. Go out on a week night? Sure, why not. Free on the weekend? Usually.

But no, to be one of those people. Suddenly lumped with the it’s not the same. I haven’t disappeared off the face of the earth. If you catch me in the right social media—my blog, my twitter, my facebook—I am still there.

Still though, there’s something different when I RSVP for a party. I have always been a wallflower, but now with no hesitation, I put down 2.

Because surely, he will make me meet new people when usually I hover around the snack table, eating the cookies and candy in anxiety.

Memories of certain statements

Boy #1 puts down an empty cup on the ground in the middle of the pathway in the park.
Me: What are you doing?
Boy #1: Don’t worry. Someone is going to come along to pick it up. It’s their job.

On the road in a car. Biker is in front of us.
Boy #2 scoffs
Boy #2: What is that guy doing?! He is acting like a car and he is not a car! There should be a law that all bikes not be cars.


Today, I whimpered, “I am getting too old!”

It was a silent terrified tremor of…being close to 30. The forsaken three decades of old lore. But in less than 3 weeks, I will be turning the vicious age of twenty-seven (on an unspecified date to be determined). The cube of 3. And like when I was 16, I can answer to a/s/l as 3^3/no i have a headache/in the middle of nowhere

Although that means some people will think I am 33.

But on to the annual bday wish list. A yearly event on the blog since 2002!

Previous years: 2008, did I really forget in 2007???, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002

In decreasing order of IMPORTANCE and significance
1. presence (aka presence > present)
2. jobbys for my unemployed friends
3. sweet strawberries
4. peaches and nectarines (whole please)
5. candies like starbursts, sour belts, warheads, jolly ranchers
6. DSLR, perhaps one of those Canon Rebels (hey that was on my list last year!)
7. a photography class to go along with the DSLR
8. perhaps a hybrid road bike…perhaps if I can get biking
9. double-paned windows in my apartment
10. windows with screens in my apartment
11. an useful, valuable cooking class
12. yummy desserts
13. another trip to somewhere totally foreign! (and cheap)

Why Vegas?

Ever since my sister started her last and final optometry rotation in the VA in Las Vegas, I said, “I WILL VISIT YOU!”

Except that…I have a tendency to have rose-colored glasses on. I have been to Vegas at least 10 different times. All those times were with my parents. Visiting the casinos as a kid because my parents were really good deal sniffers. Playing in original theme park at MGM grand in the nineties. Playing in Circus Circus. Eating the cheap buffets. Watching cabaret shows (at the time, these were the cheapest). Going to the Rising Stars comedy club when I didn’t understand how comedy shows work and falling asleep during the show, but being afraid that I’ll be called out.

Why do people visit? The food. The clubs. The debauchery. The ample gambling. The shows. The buffets. The penny slots. The high stakes tables. The luxury. The beautiful people. The feeling of another world.

Staying off the strip at my sister’s place…it’s almost none of those that appeal to me. Not yet anyway…

And suddenly I want to hate you, but I don’t

There’s a funny thing that happens when you discover that someone you respected and admires has an opposing view to one of your firm core beliefs.

Maybe it’s political. Maybe it’s about society. Maybe it’s about same-sex marriage, maybe it’s about choice of lifestyle, maybe it’s taste of music (or lack thereof), maybe it’s perspectives on race…

Whatever the case, you suddenly feel this derision slide down your throat. It burns. It claws at you.

But you didn’t want this feeling. You didn’t want to suddenly lump this person into the group that you will…oh defiantly…oppose! You don’t want this person to be part of the crowd that you won’t stop to yell at! The crowd that you would throw rocks and stones if you could…the kind you would deface!!! Because they are wrong!! You will fight them to the death!!!!

No, you don’t. And you swallow. A deep breath. You will choose ignore this discovery and continue life as it was. But perhaps you will never know how that person feels about you and you settle back, thinking as you were.

To be San Franciscan and not ethnic

Based on reviews of Medicine for Melancholy (which I haven’t seen, yet), to live in a place in San Francisco as a young professional, it’s difficult to fully embrace your culture as a minority. To live in the Mission and to be a so-called hipster is to become “white”.

Several weeks ago, I attended (recently new) friend’s hot pot dinner at his apartment in SOMA. His facebook event invite seemed relatively harmless, albeit full of Asians. Sure, I am used to be surrounded by Asian Americans. On arrival though, he greeted me, “I am glad you’re here because you will be the only non-Chinese Asian to balance out everyone.”

Startled, I said, “But I am Chinese…”

“Oh I thought you were Vietnamese!”

I shook off the discussion about ethnicities and prepared for an Asian Americanized dinner. To my surprise, Mandarin and Chinese pop culture surfaced in conversation. Even the only Caucasian talked about his fascination about China and his desire to absorb every detail of being Chinese. I sat in silence, slightly shameful that I didn’t feel the same. Everyone talked about loving living in Soma and the suburbs of San Francisco. It contrasted everything I was accustomed to.

But am I that rejecting? I purposefully chose the Mission. Every day, I walk out…and perhaps there are a few Asian Americans and of course the Mexican Americans—natives of the Mission. But it’s nearly all non-Asians around me. Including my roommate and neighbors. I feel comfortable here, surrounded by English, a fascination with independent art, freedom of expression, and almost nearly devoid of…any one ethnicity.

When I randomly browsed on Hulu to a movie Long Life, Happiness and Prosperity starring Sandra Oh, I was intrigued at first. An Asian American or at least in this case an Asian Canadian. But as the movie wore on—a story about a girl in Vancouver Chinatown surrounded by Chinese culture and superstition, I was at first insulted…then almost angry. Reflecting upon me, I didn’t want to become just…an embodiment of superstition and unwilling to accept change. And yet, is it because I am beyond the working class?

I walked to Dolores Park the other day and gestured to the park: Imagine it covered with people—as if you couldn’t see grass. And thinking of that, you wouldn’t expect to see many Asian Americans. You would see the people dressing alike, perhaps with a small bbq and cupcakes…and wine and beer. A dog maybe. They would be dressed in all different colors—with umbrellas and picnic blankets. But ethnicity? English would only be spoken. English songs sang. People who are fascinated with culture—it’s a word or two there to demonstrate the in-ness…of Thai knowledge or British style. But it wouldn’t be encompassing.

I spent an hour today trying help my grandmother figure out a way to put a photo slideshow with music on her dvd. Then convert mp3s to wavs so that she can add it to the slideshow. At the end of the hour, my mind was numb with trying to speak broken Chinese. And I would stumble and stutter…until finally a friend called and I could break out into English.

I didn’t have to think in English “How do I say….”

Analysis of 100 SF things to try before you die

Based on 7×7 list of The Big Eat SF: 100 things to try before you die

I have done
Chasu ramen at Katana-Ya
Tofu soup with kimchi at My Tofu House
Baja-style fish tacos at Nick’s Crispy Tacos
Oysters on the half shell at Swan Oyster Depot
Tea-leaf salad at Burma Superstar
Prime rib at House of Prime Rib
Salted-caramel ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery
Chips and salsa at Papalote
Ginger snaps at Mietta
Giant pretzel with mustard at The Monk’s Kettle
Paper masala dosa at Dosa
Popovers with strawberry butter at the Rotunda
Fresh spring rolls at Out the Door
Cheese course at Gary Danko

I think I did it
Coffee-rubbed pork shoulder at Range
Burger with fries at Slow Club
Pizza margherita at Pizzeria Delfina
Pupusas at Balompie Cafe #3
Cheeseburger at Taylor’s Automatic Referesher
Pho ga at Turtle Tower
Shrimp-and-chive dumplings at Ton Kiang
Apple fritter at Bob’s Donuts
Buckwheat crepe and a French cider at Ti Couz
Baby-coconut ice cream from Mitchell’s
Clam chowder at Hog Island Oyster Co.

I have gone to the establishment, but have not done the dish and don’t feel strongly about it
Carnitas taco at La Taqueria
Spicy crab and grits at the Front Porch
Fried-shrimp po’boy at brenda’s French Soul Food
Eggs benedict on the back patio at Zazie
Pulled-pork sandwich at Roadside BBQ

I have gone to the establishment, but haven’t had the dish must to try the dish
Morning bun at Tartine Bakery
Pork sugo with pappardelle at Delfina
Fried brussels sprouts at SPQR
Garlic soup at Piperade
Spiced-chocolate doughtnut at Dynamo Donut with a Four Barrel coffee
Basil gimlet at Rye

I have not gone, but don’t feel strongly about it
Salt-and-pepper squid at Yuet Lee
Soup dumplings at Shanghai House
Salumni misti plate at Perbacco
Blue Bell Bitter from the cask at Magnolia Pub
A classic gin martini at Bourbon & Branch
A Gibraltar at Blue Bottle Cafe
Laughing Buddha cocktail at Cantina
Dry-fried chicken wings at San Tung
Mint julep at Alembic
Galapagos cocktail at Absinthe
Absinthe daiquiri
Crispy eggplant at Jai Yun
Irish coffee at the Buena vista Cafe
A Fernet at R Bar
A margarita at Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant
A cheese slice at Arinell Pizza
Lamb schawerma at Truly Mediterranean
Sesame balls at Yank Sing

I have not done and must go
Roasted chicken and bread salad at Zuni
Shaking beef at the Slanted Door
Beef brisket at Memphis Minnie’s
Katsu curry from Muracci’s Japanese Curry & Grill
Tuna tartare at Michael Mina
Chicken pot pie at Liberty Cafe
Vietnamese roasted pork sandwich at Saigon Sandwich
Beer sausage with sauerkraut and grilled onions at Rosamunde Sausage Grill
Loaf of bread straight out of the oven at Tartine
Papaya salad with salty crab at Sai Jai Thai
Spaetzle at Suppenkuche
Pan con chocolate with sea salt and olive oil at Laiola
Yellowtail collar at Oyajii
Rotisserie chicken at Limon Rotisserie
French fries at Hayes Street Grill
Pierna Enchilada torta at La Torta Gorda
Cannele at Boulangerie Bay Bread
Ceviche at La Mar Becicheria Peruana
Angels on horseback at Anchor & Hope
Maccaronara with ricotta salata at A16
Milk-roasted pork at L’Osteria del Forna
Caponatina with burrata at Beretta
Goat stew at Kokkari Estiatorio
Hurache with cactus salad at El Huarache Loco
The Brass Monkey at Little Star Pizza
Crab souffle at Cafe Jacqueline
Meatballs with grapes at Aziza
Pig parts at Incanto
Sand dabs at Tadich Grill
Licorice parfait at South
Omakase menu at Sebo
Arancini at Ducca
Corned-beef sandwich with Gruyère at the Sentinel
Fried green beans at Coco500
Chicken hash at Ella’s
Chilaquiles with a fried egg at Pastores
Onion strings at Alfred’s Steakhouse
Chicken curry at Punjab Kabab House
Fried chickpeas at Piqueo’s
Sweet-potato fries with banana catsup at Poleng Lounge
Slow-cooked egg at Coi
Albondigas soup at Mijita
Bacon-wrapped hot dog from a cart in the Mission (preferably when you’re drunk)
Seven courses of beef at Pagolac
Mango with chile, lemon and salt at Doña Tere’s cart (At the corner of 21 and Treat Streets, no phone)
3 a.m. bowl of caldo verde soup at Grubstake

For things I don’t feel strongly about…looks like it’s either Chinese, Mediterranean, alcohol or pizza. Or my super pickiness about vegetable and bitter taste.

But other than that, who is ready to eat with me?!


When facing situations that I’ll wimp out and walk away in cowardice, suddenly I think “What would Chris do?”

Then I would pretend to be Chris and walk in, acting if I was him. Sometimes, it would go well—with it eventually morphing into my comfort zone. Other times, it would be awkward and I would freeze, then limp away in embarrassment.

I have had always trouble talking to strangers without a clear intent or purpose—or something normal. The act of small talk does not come naturally. See talk to famous people. See calling banks to reduce my rate or waive fees. See making small talk with a girl who has a bag that I really want. See talking to salespeople in stores, especially those where I don’t want to be treated like a novice.

Today, I went up to the bike valet without a bike. Without knowing whether I will actually bike. I wanted to know how the entire experience would be like In my usual social anxious way, I scoped out the place. I studied the outdoor walls and the people coming in and out the building. I looked around at the bikers congregating perhaps for a ride together. I loitered near the entrance door. Then at some point, I thought that was good enough and spun on my heel, headed to the MUNI.

But wait. Chris would not do that!

So I awkwardly…then with confidence, I strolled into the building and talked to the guy at the counter: “So how does this work?”

I got the same answer as the website and on yelp, but in some way, perhaps it was what I was seeking for. Then I got stuck on the MUNI for 30 minutes when it broke down. Inside, I started steaming about how public transit (specifically the light rail) is horrible and annoying and stupid and not well-planned…and how I really need to learn how to bike.

Tips for the Unemployed III

Getting laid off is the best answer for “why did you leave your last job”.

No passed judgment, no criticism, no culture clash.

Apologies all around.

On my first day of being unemployed, I attended a conference. People had advised against me attending the conference as result of the significant event—but I needed something to assure me that I was still a normal person. I pretended I still had a job and studiously took down notes during the talks.

Having trouble holding back anything big, I couldn’t help declaring that I was unemployed. I crossed out the company name on my nametag and wrote (too hastily) “I am looking”. As I introduced myself, I would add with a big smile, “…and I am looking! Today is my first day!”

Most of the time, people laughed.

I made one friend that day. Then spent $20+ for a dinner with friends afterwards.