Whenever I go back to San Francisco now, it’s always the same thing: I spend a week with my friends, usually eating as much Asian food as I can possibly handle. Carnitas too, usually in the form of burritos. For the most part, my home base will be in the Mission, where I lived for five years, with ventures into downtown to work at the local co-working spaces. Maybe I’ll be the very tourist I avoided as a local and walk along the waterfront or go to the Castro.
After that, I hop on the BART train to the end of the line, the suburbs in Fremont. I spend the second week visiting mom, in the room that my dad stayed in before he moved out and has now become the computer room. Or in my case, the guest bedroom. It’s a twin mattress, the bed frame I had as a kid. The mattress is super firm and it feels like a cot in the barracks, probably the most suitable sleeping environment for dad. I usually lie to my mom and tell her that I just flew in. I’ve told the truth in the past - that I’m flying to California but seeing friends first - but she doesn’t take it too well.
Staying here has been fine, for the most part. One part of coming home is always the inevitable English or technology based errand. Burn some CDs, make sure she wasn’t being convinced she was dying of cancer when she gets a English reminder about her mammogram. This time around it was to “fix her TooYoo,” by which she meant, of course, making sure her YouTube works.
I upgrade Flash on her Safari browser.
"What did you do?" she asks in Chinese. "Did you purchase something? They always want me to purchase something."
"No, I just installed Flash," I say in English. She has no idea what I’m talking about, so she leaves the room into the kitchen and returns with a parfait glass filled with pineapple chunks. "I salted them," she said. "Kills the germs."
The most annoying thing is the lack of locks on the doors because of Angela. As a result, mom and her opens the door at random times. Do you want some ice tea? Do you want some hot tea? How about some fruit? I cut up some fruit. Have you showered yet? Most of the time I brush her off: no, mom, I’m fine. Seriously. Mom, I’m okay. The times I eventually give in - sure mom, I’ll drink some water, okay, I’ll take a shower at night - I end up feeling guilty, like I’m enabling all of this to happen as a thirty-eight year old instead of an eight year old.
Angela comes in the room as well. “Is that your work computer?” she asks while I type this.
"Do you have friends and freedom?" she asks out of the blue.
"I guess I do." I keep my eyes on the computer.
"I wish I did. I live in a straight jacket." She leaves the room again.
Just a Thursday evening.
Things My Chinese Mom Forwards Me -
When I first got my mom her computer and taught her how to type in Chinese (tracing in Chinese characters using a trackpad) she wrote me exactly three e-mails and then spent the rest of her time forwarding me Chinese language Powerpoint presentations.
You may as well come along for the ride.
As part of Ai Weiwei’s exhibit at PAMM they had a list of the 7000 children who died in the China quake a couple years back. I found a list of these kids with my last name.
Why we Code for Miami -
We’re a little different from other civic hacking brigades. Here’s why.
Have I mentioned I’m captain for the local civic hacking brigade here in Miami? I’ve been doing this for half a year. It’ll be a year since I’ve been running the front-end developers group.
I’d be lying if I’ve said living here has been a cakewalk. But those are the times I just need to step back and chill and realize that - so long as I’m trying to be pro-active, that’s all I can really do and to also focus on the good things, both with the city and with the stuff I’m doing.
And apologies if the medium article reads a little self-promotional - that’s the rules of the game of how you get attention here.
The Milk Story (2013) -
If you were to take a photograph of my immediate family - which there wouldn’t be, because - you would see the following: my mom and dad looking like the standard elderly Asian parents of average weight. You would see this because my dad, who’s in his 80s, is an ex-military dad with perfect posture and white silver fox hair and his impeccable dietary habits of savory oatmeal and cold tofu and bitter-melon he’s had for the thirty or so years I’ve known him.
My mother standing next to him in this imaginary picture could hold her own, as well. At seventy five, thanks to her two mile walks around the local man-made lake by her house as well as her stylist dying her hair jet black every six weeks.
Then your eyes would scan to my sister and I, looking like Asian blueberries.
(continues in the link)
Earlier tonight, in trying to take some time properly writing again, I gave myself a project: take this blog post - originally written twelve years ago and actually kind of a personal story I’ve been telling about myself since college - and completely rewrite it from scratch, not referencing the old blog post until after I’ve written a draft.
I’m not necessarily ready to post it to the public just yet - I’m not happy the way it reads right now, and I feel like I need to curate my words just a little better. Maybe soon, probably soon. That said, I have some thoughts about the whole process.
So that’s where I stand right now. Off I go again.
I was a chubby little kid when I was 8. Got the mental image in your head? Okay, it’s even chubbier than that. No, seriously. A couple of pounds more… there ya go. That was me.
You see, I was the only son, the mama’s boy, and as such, I was spoiled. Add to this the fact that my mothers biggest fear was watching starving Ethiopians on television and then imagining her dear son’s face on one of the of the babies, and there ya go. “He needs to eat!” my mom would scream to my protesting dad and sister in Chinese. “He needs to grow taller!”
She says this, of course, as she prepares me an egg and mayonnaise sandwich for breakfast.
One day, my dad had enough of this. In the middle of breakfast, he slammed his chopsticks on the kitchen table with such force that I turned pale. “You’re stuffing him LIKE A PIG!” He screamed in his ex-military voice. This apparently upset my mother a bit, so she said the most logical thing you can say when someone accuses you of stuffing your son like a pig:
"Fine. You don’t want me to stuff him? I WON’T FEED HIM AT ALL!" Yep. She said that.
And of course, I did the most logical thing you can do when you’re eight and your parents are screaming at each other: I ran to the backyard, crying. Eventually, my dad feels guilty about what he”s done and he stands under the door to the backyard holding a glass of non-fat milk. “Here,” says my dad. “Drink the milk.” No less than 10 seconds later, my mom appears in the bathroom window, which connects to the backyard. She’s mouthing a phrase to me through the window: “Don’t you DARE drink the milk.
I’m eight years old. I look over to my dad. Drink the milk! I look over to my mom. Don’t drink the milk!
And I don’t remember what happens after that. I’ve repressed it from my memory.
You know, after typing this story out, the story sounds less humorous than it actually is. I mean hey, my parents are cool in a neurotic way, for the most part. And I’m a sane, well adjusted person, right? But every once in a while, I’ll have a major life changing decision to make and I ask myself what my parents would say. And as I close my eyes and I see their smiling faces, they would smile and tell me: “Drink the milk… don’t you DARE drink the milk.”