(We are in Japantown for the Cherry Blossom Festival, eating shabu shabu. There are a group of gay male furries behind us.)
- Mom: I think they are all GAY. Is this true?
- Ernie, shocked because she's never actually used the word GAY before and surprised at how much it sounds like a Margaret Cho routine: MOM! You don't know that.
- Mom: Of course I do. It's a group of men and we are in San Francisco.
- Ernie: That means nothing.
- Mom: There is a man dressed up as a dog wearing rainbow suspenders. Isn't that what they like? Rainbows?
- Ernie: I think he's supposed to be a wolf, ma.
- Mom: And the man sitting on the end is wearing pink cat ears.
- Ernie: (pause) That he is.
- Mom: Hmmph!
Hsiung family breakfasts
- Sister, in Chinese: I feel better today.
- Mom, in Chinese: Physically or mentally?
- Sister: Mentally.
- Mom: Then wash your plate and wash your brother's plate too, because you don't do anything in this house.
OK by now you’ve seen this article in The Onion and been like UGH TOO REAL. Yes! It is too real. It is painful and we recognize ourselves and the choices we have made in this article.[…]
Maybe it’s not useful to define one person as the garbage collector and one person as the singer. Maybe everyone is a lot of things. Maybe the self-obsessed celebrity artist culture isn’t that helpful or useful. Maybe eventually we get to a place where we see that books and music and art are created by us, people who have school and day jobs and other shit we care about. And we’re not rich celebrities, and we are all always being pulled in different directions, but we’re present and engaged with the people in our lives? And we value what we contribute as much as what we create? And we create things because want to, and not because we have expectations for what it will get us, or how it will cause society to value us? And we don’t berate and hate ourselves for the very human failure of having a lot of complicated shit to juggle in our lives? That might be kind of cool?
A gentle reminder to myself, given my recent announcement.
The Prophecy of Rich Garcia
On the one-year anniversary of moving to Miami from Northern California, I wrote down some observations on my personal blog and made it a Top 10 list, because that’s a trick bloggers do. It got shared around Facebook, and while you always have that random stranger who posts on your friend’s Facebook wall, calling you whiny and self-servicing, most people who live here have seemed to relate to something about that piece, even if it was from a tree-hugging, San Francisco carpetbagger.
Next thing you know, it gets posted on WLRN, gets republished on NPR’s Facebook page, and you’re approached to write a regular column for the radio station. And you say yes because you think, “this place is already pretty weird. How can I make my experience here even more unusual?”
It’s all been kinda sudden and unexpected to me, but my friend Rich totally called it.
Before I left for Miami, I had lunch in San Francisco with a couple of old co-workers of mine at a fancy sandwich place owned by one of those chefs from Top Chef. By now, everyone knew that I was going to move across the country, and Rich pointed out that he spent a couple of years in Miami after his college years in Texas, before finding a stable job and generally moving on with his life. He made his experience sound like some sort of Amish rumspringa, where kids in their twenties hung out at Mansion looking for some girl named Molly before becoming responsible adults.
Except I wasn’t going to get anything out of my system — all that stuff was behind me, and I was moving to make a long-distance relationship not so long-distance. “I lost the coin toss,” I usually say to strangers when they ask me why I moved here.
“Moving to Miami is going to be great for you. You’re a blogger - you’ll have plenty of things to write about.” He starts grinning, and I imagine him imagining me in ridiculous social situations, like me trying to open a beach umbrella and then getting stuck underneath, like a cartoon.
I shrug between bites of my twelve dollar hummus and avocado sandwich. “I mean, I’ll try to blog in my spare time. I still plan on doing technical stuff.” The plan had been to stay the course as a freelance web developer - it was really easy to be a computer programmer in San Francisco and how would it be any different in South Florida?
“Where are you going to live again?” he asks.
He squinted his eyes and smiled. “Sure, man. Just promise me you’ll blog. Because the stuff you’re going to write will be amazing.” He may as well have patted me on the head.
So here I am, writing more than I had my last couple of years in San Francisco, taking notes on observations around me; regular life that may be completely obvious to you, oh lifelong South Beach, Miami-Dade and/or South Florida resident, but not so much me, a stranger in a strange land.
But, Rich Garcia, if you read this: you will get your wish after all. Consider yourself warned.
That right there is a photo of my sister in 1987 - five or ten years before she had her last mental break that would render her completely unable to interact with people around her effectively - at a Forestry camp at UC Berkeley. She ended up dropping out because we were both involved with the International Church of Christ - labeled by certain groups as a cult - and she dropped out of school, obviously to the horror of my very Asian parents and out of the church, to the horror to all the friends she had. I’m writing about the experience now and this image is what I got, coming out of the rabbit hole.
It’s the only photo I’ve found on the Internet of her; turns out there’s a lot of people on the internet with her name. Who knew?
Royce, on being a new homeowner
- Ernie: OMG HOMEOWNERSHIP HIGH FIVE!
- Ernie: Welcome to the sinking feeling that you can no longer complain to management when shit is broke
- Royce: haha!
- Ernie: but you get to paint! like a champ!
- Royce: thanks
- Royce: I'm already thinking of stencils for the walls
- Royce: maybe a mural, with a girl carrying a pot of beans, and her hair flowing behind her that turns into a field of corn, next to a town with a church
- Royce: which has a stained glass window that depicts the aztec warrior carrying the princess up a pyramid
- Royce: or maybe just beige
- Ernie: yeah, i'd go with beige.