Saturday, December 31, 2011

a christmas tradition

i've always felt like a lucky person. i've been spoiled and humbled by my parents and am blessed with all of the things i have. when i was 10 (i told you that i always say i was 10 in childhood stories! remember?) i started getting allowance. but not without doing chores. when i was sixteen i was given a car. but not without driving my brother around as well. when i was 18 my tuition for college was paid for. but not without maintaining good grades. when i was 21 and in x-ray school, i lived with my parents rent free. with the promise that i was making the right career moves. and when i was 27 i was gifted a very generous amount of money to help me with the down payment for a house. but not without knowing they'd raised a daughter that wouldn't take them for granted. i've always felt like too many people take for granted the things they've been handed. and i know i never want to be one of those people. 

every christmas morning, for the past six years, i've handed out bagged lunches to San Francisco's homeless. see, my family has never really been big on celebrating holidays and as you all know, nearly everything is closed on christmas day. on most christmases i found myself watching loads of tv and being lazy. one day years ago i decided that if i had nothing better to do, i should take that time and give a little back to the world. 

since then, every year i make bagged lunches for about 35 or so homeless. i take my mom's costco card and get all of the ingredients there. this year the lunch consisted of a pb&j sandwich, a granola bar, trail mix (walnuts, dried pomegranate, and chocolate), goldfish, an orange and a bottle of water. in years past it consisted of things like cookies, chips and boxed juice. but (friggin believe it or not) while handing out the lunches i've heard things like "i have diabetes" and "don't you know nothin' bout celiac disease?" last year plenty of people asked if i had clean water. so this year i changed things up and gave them a bit healthier a meal. 

i, along with whoever wants to accompany me for that day, drive around the empty streets of SF in search of the homeless. sometimes we hand them bags through the window of our car and sometimes i'll run out and drop a bag off by their feet if they're asleep. it's a simple task, really.

but don't be fooled. although i'm doing a nice thing for people, it isn't as if i get nothing in return. if anything, it makes me feel like a better person in general. it's humbling to view the torturous life of those living out on the streets. it forces you to value simple things such as heat and clean water. plus, often times you get pleasant smiles in return, very nice "happy holidays," or a "thank god. bless your soul." and while those words are always nice to hear, it wouldn't matter if nobody said "thank you." i would still go out and hand the bags out anyway. it's become a tradition of mine. this year, with my grandfather's funeral held on christmas eve, i was going to skip handing out the lunches. but as the day got nearer i began feeling almost guilty for wanting to forgo the tradition. but i decided the day prior to the funeral that i was going to buy the food and follow up with a sixth year. i corralled my cousins to help me make sandwiches and put the lunch bags together. the next morning i kept tradition alive!

it's always a positive thing to be grateful and give a little back to the world. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

the eulogy

my yeh-yeh standing in front of his restaurant, King Tin, in Chinatown which he opened decades ago. i remember frequently visiting him there and thinking he was extra awesome for owning his own restaurant. plus look at the way he stands, all happy and badass! i love this picture of him.

years down the line, i am positive that i'm going to want to remember what i said at my grandfather's funeral. nervous, with hands shaking, i read the eulogy. i was afraid my lip was going to quiver like Elvis', much like it always had any time i had to speak publicly. but this time that didn't happen. instead, at some point, with tear filled eyes,  i threw my hands up and proclaimed that i couldn't even read the words anymore because everything was blurred. but eventually the collection of tears dropped and fell upon the page and i could make out the rest of the words well enough to finish. and this is what i said for my grandpa:

i always knew i had a cool grandpa. he was often dressed in a blazer, a hat and sunglasses. his clothes always matched and he walked through every door with confidence. whenever we'd enter any chinese restaurant, immediately somebody would recognize him and greet him. it seems we never had to wait more than five minutes for a table because EVERY time we ate out more than likely the matre'd or a chef was his friend. and once we were sat, someone dining at the restaurant would see him and come to chat for a moment. to me it seemed my grandpa was popular. he was always cool, calm, collected and respected. and i don't think anybody can argue the fact that yeh-yeh was a generous man as well. whenever we went out for dim sum he would always order extra dishes to take to his friends for their mah jong games. and it was evident to me that he almost always paid for dinner when dining with friends. he treated everybody equally. during Chinese New Year, it didn't matter whether you cooked him dinner or just smiled at him. you instantly got a red envelope. he was always considerate and thoughtful towards the people he loved. once he heard that i liked jelly fish, jelly fish would appear at every dinner.  he made sure that if there was an extra bowl of shark fin soup, i would get it because it was my favorite. sometimes he would joke and tell my brother that he should take his grandpa out for dim sum or pay for dinner that night. he was only trying to instill good values in his grandson and make sure that we knew to respect and value our elders. he always cracked jokes and had a way about him that made everybody like him. 

years ago during a family function yeh-yeh had to go to the emergency room and for the first time in my life i saw the hint of tears in my dad's eyes. in that moment i realized that there was a bond between the two of them that i'd never noticed. then every time i saw the two of them together i started to see the similarities between them. their generosity, their humor, their ability to always seem calm and easy going. my mom has always said that i am very much like my dad and if that's true, then i must also be very much like my yeh-yeh. and if i'm anything like my yeh-yeh then i feel honored. he was a man who surrounded himself with friends and family and valued anybody who crossed paths with him. he's always tried to instill good family values in myself, my brother and my cousins. for years i've watched my mom, dad, aunts and uncles take their dad out to dinner or dim sum every sunday not because they had to but because they wanted to. he built a family who respected him. before his health began depleting, he always had a smile on. but more than anything, he was always a truly genuine person. 

unfortunately our time with him has ended but our memories are forever. a few weeks ago he had said that he was ready to be with grandma. before she had passed, they were inseparable so i am sure that he is happy to reunite with her. may they rest in peace together. 

this is the last picture i have with my grandpa. it was taken at his last birthday dinner. i'm not sure what he's doing with his hand there. but like i said in the eulogy....hat. sunglasses. blazer. smile. sharp as ever!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

recent holiday happenings

-------------meet my awesome cousin, Eva! this year she invited me to be a third wheel to her and her boyfriend for her work holiday party. but y'know what? i didn't feel like a third wheel at all. the party was held at the De Young Museum, which was a perfect venue for one of the best holiday parties i could imagine. Twice prior, i've had to opportunity to join Eva at her holiday parties held at Bimbo's and the SF MOMA. seriously, her work throws the best shindigs! first and foremost, they had a toy donation in which each employee contributed to. i think that sets a great tone for everybody. enjoy the night and all it's sparkles but don't forget that there are those less fortunate than you that would appreciate your kindness. anyway, great food, free drinks  and lots of dancing ensued. twas a fun night!
Eva, in all her gorgeousness. 

-------------my family has been meaning to go the Navio at the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay for over a year now. they've got a great brunch buffet overlooking the ocean. the brunch includes three selections of caviar, a seafood bar, a sushi bar, a cheese section, a fine meats section, a breakfast section, a hot food section, a bread section, a salad section, and we cant forget the dessert section. oh. my. god! the desserts!! i truly wish i'd taken pictures of the food there. most things were presented in single servings on their own little dishes. it was classy and everything was quality. i would absolutely come back, although it'd have to be for a special occasion, as after tip it was nearly $110 a person. 

my pops and my mom.

myself and my brother Jerome, or Jerm, or Jermy. his real name is Jeremy.

chinese guys don't know how to smile in pictures. it's a fact.

--------------last weekend some of my closest friends and i had a potluck. it's rare that we all get together so this season i wanted to host a small potluck at my place. these people are a part of a group of friends i consider my backbone (well, them and my family of course). we've all been friends since high school and some of us go as far back as elementary school. though we don't all see each other all the time or keep in constant contact, any time we get together it's like nothing has changed. it's always a good time and i wouldn't trade my friendship with any of them for the world. 

 Martin, Justin, Trina,  Jess, Brandon, Kim, Pat, Jenny

----------------------------------oh! and that tree we're standing in front of is my very first real christmas tree EVER! see, as a kid my parents never really made christmas a huge deal. when i was little i remember having a fake christmas tree that we strung lights on, placed ornaments and threw tinsel over. after a couple of years the tree suddenly became a fake tree with the lights already attached to it. then a couple years later the house demoted it's tree spot to a cardboard pretend chimney. but not like this one. it was more like cardboard with brick printed on it that we just positioned to stick out of the wall so that we could put our presents inside. then sooner or later christmas sorta just went away all together. i had always loved looking at houses decorated all christmassy and swore that when i got older i'd decorate the house inside and outside. santa on the rooftop, colorful lights brightening up the street, and stunning icicles. an insane amount of ornaments and presents spilling all over the floor. well so far that's a no go.

one day i was talking to my roommate, Fern, about how i didn't have the money or the time this year to invest in christmas decorations. then i went on to talk about how i've never had a real christmas tree. one day after work i came home at midnight and it looked like the lights in the house were still on. i came upstairs to find a christmas tree stringed with lights!! Fern knew i was having that potluck and wanted there to be a little bit of christmas spirit running through the house. isn't that thoughtful of him? 

Friday, December 23, 2011

radiology holiday party

once again, my coworkers are awesome and i'm happy to call them my friends. our work had a holiday party at Circolo, thanks to the generosity of our radiologists. while i had a load of fun, it was an incredibly short night for me. i drank too much too soon and found myself home by 10pm. the next day and the next couple of weeks i heard stories from the night through others, not remembering a whole lot myself. but it looks like a had a good time!!! and it seems everybody else did i hear!!

boss man!! finally, a decent picture of him, even though he's not looking at the camera. at the christmas party last year he and i had a funny screaming match  conversation about what crew was better. i say Super Crew is the best crew Kaiser SF has ever seen. he begs to differ. he says that his crew (including Ron) was the best. but there's no way they could be quick on their feet. no way jose! Super Crew is unmatched!

i don't even really remember this, soooo at this point i've already had too much. you can see on my face how much i love alcohol.

Natasha's signature move!!

SUPER CREW!!! we're missing quite a few people here

everybody trying to recreate "Regina's signature move," which doesn't actually exist. it's not a move. it's just the way i dance, damnit!!

look at them all pretty!

damn Irovy!! taking all the spotlight from Ebony!

she doesn't remember much either. haha!

so done! ready to keep my eyes closed for the next ten hours.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

super crew christmas dinner!

most of my coworkers are awesome. but some of them are extra awesome and we immaturely dubbed ourselves "super crew." we decided to have a nice dinner for the holiday season to celebrate true friendships in the workplace. Alexander's was the restaurant of choice because who doesn't love a giant steak and spending too much money on food? anyway, on a more serious note, my coworkers are rad (pun intended because we're RADiologic technologists)! i couldn't imagine going to work everyday without seeing at least one of these people. they are hard working, awesome and most importantly funny. seriously, when most of us are together at work the job gets done effortlessly and we are laughing the whole way through. i heart these people! 

Natasha, Ruby, myself and Lana (who is now missed and spending her time in Vallejo)

Edgar, Ron, Tan, and Hong

Hong, Nick and Tom

 that's Jinsun (the boss) over there. 

aaaaaand on to food. i've wanted to go to Alexander's for years now. i never had the opportunity to go to the Cupertino location so i suggested it for this dinner.
amuse bouche. i can't remember what kinda fish that was, but it was good!

awe yeah! hamachi shooters!

seared foie gras with mushrooms. i sort of wish i just ordered three of these for dinner and didn't have to share it with everybody.

palate cleanser

Tan and i shared two entrees because i like variety like that.
lobster with uni risotto. for me, this dish was just okay because the uni made the risotto taste uber fishy and i'm not into that at all.

ribeye. perfectly tender and oh so yums.

shrooms. the healthy kind. not the high kind.

brussel sprouts. 

truffle fries! these were good but i think i'd been drinking a good amount and can't fully remember them!! =(

it was Ron's bday a couple days prior so we sang Happy Birthday.

again, i'd been drinking a good amount by the time dessert rolled around so i can't remember whether these were just good or whether they were amazing. but they're pretty, aren't they?
chocolate somethin' somethin'.

science experiment dessert.

"hello my friend!" these poor fools miss each other so much!

after dinner we went to 330 Ritch to dance the night away. i was the perfect amount of drunk and had a good time but was ready to go. lucky for us Hong was kind enough to drive Natasha and i out of his way to a McDonald's because McDonald's is the best at 2 in the AM. excited for Micky D's, holding two bags of food, i drastically tripped on the way upstairs. with my arms held up in the air (for who knows what reason) Natasha says "watch out, the bag ripped!" as i replied "no it's not!" the bag rips in half and there is an explosion of fries everywhere. i literally screamed "NOOOOO!!!! wait! no!!! not the fries!!" and we started laughing our heads off. my roommate came downstairs to check on all the ruckus only to find us sitting in a pile of fries. there's no room for judgement here on this blog, so i will tell you now that we totally ate the fries. or maybe i shouldn't bring Natasha down with me, so i'll say definitively that i absolutely ate the fries!

good friends, good times!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


dear regina,

2011 was an interesting year, wouldn't you say? as you sit and ponder everything that was 2011, you'll quickly realize that you have no idea what happened in your 27th year of life because you've never been good at remembering dates for things. in fact, every time you retell a childhood story you always say that you were "somewhere between the ages of 8 and 10" because you truly have no idea when the story actually happened. and any more recent story instantly becomes "a couple of years ago." anyway, your 27th year has been the biggest of your life thus far and i'm going to remind you of it in all it's glory.

2011 started off really well. all things were looking up and nothing could stop you!

it was the year of seconds. you completed your second 100 mile bike ride through Marin and Sonoma. that was a bitch, remember? you probably don't want to do that for a third time in 2012. but knowing you, you just might just to say that you did. you surprised yourself when you easily ran your second half marathon without training very much. you felt awesome that day! oh! and you can't forget Thailand for the second time! that was one of the best trips you've ever taken and hopefully have ever taken. that time when the elephant guide sang In The Jungle to you! that panang curry! oh and that roti! ooohh the roti! the best massages of your life! seriously $7 for two hours? the culture! the trannies that looked better than you ever will! the bluest water you've ever seen! that time you got stuck on a boat in the pouring rain! that craaaaaazy bike ride through the streets and alley ways of Bangkok! aren't you amazed you survived that one? (Thailand part: IIIIIIIVV)

it was a year of new skills. remember all that stress you went through when you trained for CT? you've always been the type to feel as though you don't know anything at all unless you are sure you've got the ability to execute something with at least 85% confidence. plus, you just don't like looking stupid and getting yelled at. you never knew stress until you went through CT training. you finally realized why people make use of happy hour. at work, usually all of the hours are happy hours because you like  your coworkers and your job. BUT while you were in CT training, none of those hours were particularly awesome. man, were those some stressful days, or what? you baked a lot during that time. it calms you. but look at where you are now! you're a CT tech! you already felt like you were helping others as an x-ray tech, but now you feel like you're doing even more for the world! cheers to having a meaningful job where everyday you feel like you've affected somebody's life in a positive way!

oh, you know what else you did that is pretty awesome? you helped Jess raise $400 for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society via your baked goods! you and Kim did yourselves proud. plus you spent a beautiful sunny day at your favorite park with some of your best friends. seriously, that had to be one of the best days of 2011.

remember one of the most memorable meals of your life? y'know.....Flag Day 2011 at Cyrus? man was that an epic meal! and your company was fun too! i hope that crazy good eats are still prevalent in your life. i know you've been cooking more, but every so often you've got to treat yourself to some true food art. you and Helen are still doing the Flag Day thing, aren't you?

this year you went from being a semi-adult to a real adult. i mean, you got your first checkbook and started actually putting those checks to use soooo that qualifies as adult actions, right? there's something else you did in your 27th year that was pretty important too, wasn't there? hmm...what was it? oh yeah! YOU BOUGHT A HOUSE!!! thus far, it's pretty much the greatest accomplishment you've achieved ever. well that, and breaking six, which was inevitable. you went through so. much. paperwork. and grew to understand what real stress is like. buying a house is no joke. it caused so much anxiety that you said you were going to live in this house forever so as not to have to go through the stresses of purchasing property again. but i'm sure that's a lie. you'll want another property eventually. but let's say it again! YOU. yes YOU! bought a friggin house at the age of 27!! not with a dual income. by yourself!! you rock for that! of course you've got to thank your parents for leading you in the right direction to make beneficial choices like that. but at the end of the day you're the one making those mortgage payments. at 27. i believe that makes you a certifiable true adult. it won't be your last accomplishment though. no way.

your 27th year was looking good. nothing but ups happened. but december was humbling. december showed you that you can't always stay high. you've got to hit some lows to bring you back down and make you appreciate the good times. in december you decided to end a relationship with someone who you loved and cared deeply for. it was very adult for the two of you to come to the decision you did and you're overall glad that you can still call him a friend. i hope that you are still friends in the truest form. it wasn't easy and especially through the holidays, it was difficult not to share them together. but again, you guys made the right choice. cheers to friendship.

somehow the saying "when it rains it pours" seems to be pretty accurate in your life. this isn't the first time multiple things have come apart all at once. i think it's the universe showing you that you're strong and can handle a lot. december is also when you lost your yeh-yeh. his health was already depleting throughout the year but you thought he had another year in him. you saw your parents and your aunt and uncle by his side every weekend. you hoped that he wasn't ready to leave this earth. but once you heard that he heard grandma asking him to join her, he had made up his mind. he lived a full life, fathering six children who have given him plenty of grandchildren. he even lived to be a great grandfather to two boys. remember how he always used to be the sharpest dressed grandpa in the room? he wore kangols and aviator sunglasses before they were cool. every time you walked into a chinese restaurant someone from the restaurant knew him. and at dessert your table didn't just have the red bean soup.  when dessert rolled around there were seven different assortments brought out because everybody loves your yeh-yeh. he was generous towards everybody and always had a big smile on his face. it's too bad that he had to go, but alas, he's in a better place now with grandma.

the end of 2011 was a confusing time. holiday season is supposed to be full of friends and family, laughter and joy. this holiday season had all of those elements, but tossed in was some pain and a lot of crying. it's a good thing you've got a strong family foundation and friends that you will never lose. at the end of the day, could you ask for anything more?

2012 is on it's way and it should be a good one! make time to travel. maybe you can cross something off of your list! Australia perhaps. please enjoy the house you've earned and decorate the hell out of it. maintain your friendships. you know every single one of those people are more than awesome! make new friends! and continue to love your job! eat delicious things and spend more time with your awesome family! 2012, here i come!


Thursday, December 8, 2011

funny, no? but in all seriousness i know it's okay to be sad. if you've followed How I Met Your Mother, you'd already know that even though Barney seems to be reckless with women and their emotions, somewhere deep down in his core he has a real heart. and even though he doesn't show his emotions, he still feels them. and i'll just leave this at that.