Category Archives: Family

Dear Someone

Dear Someone,

I came to a realization the other day.

I was sitting in my bathtub, shaving my legs and deep in thought about other things than the immediate task at hand. It was then that I had a passing thought about you. And it was then that I realized, it had been a few days since I last had a passing thought about you.

It only took almost thirteen years, but I no longer think about you everyday. Not in passing, not in mourning. I no longer think about how much you hurt me, violated my trust and innocence and how you irrevocably changed everything about our relationship. I don’t have a half a second flash where I recall how horrible that morning was. I don’t have a moment where I have to catch my breath when I fantasize how different my life could have been had that morning never happened.

We don’t speak any longer except at rare family gatherings where I have to be in your presence. You know why I stay away. You know when I’ve never said a word to your wife or your children. You know that I’d rather pretend you don’t exist than to keep up the pretence of normality. And I’m glad that you at least grant me that and don’t push for more.

With thirteen years distance, I can see how much that night was such a turning point in my life. Yes, I was already off making too many mistakes with too many boys. I was already trying as hard as I could to fuck up my life — what with my newfound taste for freedom. I loved it and indulged. Perhaps too much. But that didn’t mean that I deserved to have that trust that I placed in you broken to teach me a lesson.

When I think back now, about redoing things, about whether it was me who acted stupid, about whether I should have known better than to trust you, about whether I was wrong to put myself in such a vulnerable position… I don’t think I did anything wrong. I should have been able to trust you; you were my own family.

I know it’s foolish to contemplate how different my life could have been. I can’t go back and change things. But I do wonder. Would I have been so eager to look for acceptance in men who were so emotionally distant? Would I have placed my self-worth so low? Would I have been so happy to compromise myself so willingly?

Sometimes I get sad, thinking about who I became because of that one morning. Sometimes I mourn, thinking about who I was, who I could have been if it never happened.

But I’m not as sad anymore now.

Everyday, I think about you less and less. Someday I hope to never think about you at all.

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How to Play Video Games With Your Non-Gamer Wife

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Yes, we had a Legend of Zelda wedding cake.

As you probably know, I’m married to an avid video-gamer. Stuart not only plays and collects various video games but also works in the industry. Our living room has far too many video games and video game consoles on display. And even more stored away,… somewhere. And yet, I barely play any video games at all. However, in the last few years since we’ve been together, Stuart’s managed to get me to play a number of video games with him. The following are a few tips to Stuart which may (or may not) also help other gamers and their wives:

Easy controls
It’s hard enough for me to remember where A, B, X and Y are on the Wiimote. But then to remember where the X, circle, triangle and square are on the Playstation controllers? Forget it. And why is there a D-pad AND not one but TWO analog sticks? So forgive me if I don’t want to play anything that requires me to remember to push multiple buttons in sequence to do some sort of combo. I can handle two buttons and maybe a third later on once I’ve mastered the first two. Or maybe a racing game like Mario Kart that only requires me to go forward and turn once in a while using the D-pad (or analog stick if I’m feeling daring). Or a zombie shooting game where it’s point and shoot.

Be helpful rather than frustrated
One of Stuart’s favourite things he used to say to me when we played together was “Stop dying”. I think this is singularly one of the most aggravating phrases to say during gameplay. Because it’s not like I want to die. Most of the time, I’m barely even registering that I’m dying as I haven’t been looking at my health/life meter thing. But recently while playing Skylanders, Stuart told me to try standing back and throwing fireballs at the enemies rather than rushing up to them to kill them. It was like a lightbulb went off. It was obvious to him but to me, I couldn’t understand why I kept dying and what I was doing wrong or how else to approach the bad guys. But now I knew and I survived much longer before dying. By telling me precisely what I was doing wrong and what I could do to prevent it, my gameplay improved more than by commanding me to “stop dying”.

Low level commitment games
My attention span is low for video games. I usually can’t play video games for more than half an hour. One hour tops if I’m really into it. Stuart on the other hand will play for hours on end, well into the night. If we’re playing together, it needs to be a game with minimal commitment. Something I can join easy and drop out of easily if I get bored or frustrated with it. The dropping out part is important especially if I’m proving to be more detrimental than helpful to passing the level. Like when we were playing New Super Mario Bros on the Wii, I’d sometimes put myself into a bubble and essentially take myself out of play so Stuart could get past a particularly challenging section with me holding him back or getting in the way.

In the end, I’ve played a few video games, even finishing some all by myself. I’m not a gamer and probably won’t ever be one. But I’m learning to enjoy playing video games since it’s one way for us to spend time together.

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Asian Beauty & Canadian Ideals

When my mom was in a Malaysian refugee camp and pregnant with me, she had her fortune told. The fortune-teller foretold her that she’d have daughter. And that daughter’s past life was a warrior who had a fearsome kick. In this life, she would be a short girl, but she’d be beautiful and with porcelain white skin. When she did have a daughter (obviously). And I apparently kicked quite a bit in the womb. And yes, I am short at five feet tall. And while I wouldn’t be so conceited to call myself beautiful, I know I’m pretty. But alas, my skin is a naturally peachy/bronzed tone that tanned easily and didn’t fade quite so easily. More like my dad’s “rice farmer” skin than mom’s milky white skin. My mom likes to joke that the fortune-teller got most of it right.

As a little girl, my mom used to scold me for playing outside so often, chiding me for how dark my skin got each summer. I cared and wanted to have lighter skin badly. But not as badly as I wanted to play hockey outside with my brother or sit outside on the front lawn contemplating the universe with my best friend. My mom was horrified that she had apparently given birth to a little East Indian girl (I know, I know, racist! Yikes! But it’s what she called me!). And I desperately wanted to please my beautiful mom and be more like her, including her pale skin.

Like I said before, I have skin that tans easily but takes forever to fade. I once had a bikini tan line from August until December. So I just resigned myself to forever being tanned which made me always less pretty than I could have been. And all this was true until a few years ago when I started working full-time in an office from 8am-5pm and oftentimes even later. It started to be a regular thing for me to go to work before the sunrise and go home after sunset.

One day, while hanging out with my sister-in-law, she asked me what I was doing to my skin since I was lighter than I had ever been before. I hadn’t noticed, but when I went home that day, I checked myself out objectively in the bathroom mirror. Yes, my skin was lighter, pale even. And rather than thinking that I needed to get out more, I took it as an excellent byproduct of working too much.

Moe to that, at the make-up counter, I’m constantly hoping to be matched up to a paler shade of foundation. If I get matched up to a light shade, I almost always end up buying it, from Stila 10 Watts to Nars Deauville. I’ve got bottles and bottles of foundation in shades too light for my actual skin tone. Alway me trying to be more like my mom. Trying to be pretty in my mom’s eyes and looking for her approval.

It’s funny how I’ve so far rejected most of my mom’s traditionally Asian ideas of beauty. My mom wanted me to be skinnier; I grabbed another bowl of fried rice with sweet & sour pork. My mom wanted me to wear my hair long, black and straight. In my life, I’ve cut it all off, dyed it Barbie blond and permed it once or twice. My mom thought I should do my makeup and dress up everyday. I was a tomboy growing up who didn’t wear makeup and dressed in big t-shirts everyday. But for some reason, the pale skin bit stuck. And while I know it’s based on this horrible idea of class and privilege, I still subscribe to it. Even though I know it means nothing, even though I know better, I can’t help it.

Geeking Out

Meeting David Hayter (2nd from the left) who voices Snake in Metal Gear Solid.

Today, my husband & I went to Fan Expo at the Vancouver Convention Centre. We met up with his friend Byron who asked me, “So how many of these things has Stu dragged you to?”

I smiled because while it’s only been a few “nerd cons” that he’s taken me to such as Anime Evolution, there have definitely been quite a few nerd activities I’ve participated in since meeting my husband. Being married to a nerd, it’s all become part of the territory. Video games. Japanese Anime. Sci Fi movies & TV shows.

Stuart works in the video game industry so I’ve watched him play countless games. I myself have become interested in a few of them: Legend of Zelda, God of War, Uncharted and Infamous. I’ve even played and finished a few video games: something I never thought would happen after passing Super Mario World on Super Nintendo back in 1998. Namely, all the games in the Professor Layton series – I can’t help it, I’m obsessed! I’ve also watched a few anime movies: mostly the Miyazaki movies. My favourite one is Kiki’s Delivery Service. I’ve also seen more Arnold Schwarzenegger movies than I care to name off. The last one being Total Recall. As a result, I can quote off more Arnold Schwarzenegger movie lines than I care to tell you. And currently, we’ve been watching a lot of Star Trek: The Next Generation which I’ve developed a new appreciation for.

Some of my friends think I’m a saint for putting up with his geeky ways. But in truth, I don’t mind it much. A lot of the geek things, I know because growing up, my brother developed an interest in some of the stuff (and subsequently, so did I). Nintendo games such as Mario Bros, Zelda and Street Fighter are familiar to me because I used to watch and play them with my brother and his friends. When my brother came back home after his first year at UVic, he brought with him a strong interest in anime. Together, we watched Macross, Oh! My Goddess, Slayers and Bubblegum Crisis amongst others. So I use a lot of my knowledge of this stuff from many, many years ago and try to understand and apply it to things today.

But mostly, I don’t mind geeking out because it interests my husband and it’s important to him. Afterall, he works in video games, so this stuff is his livelihood. The geeks are who keep his industry alive and are ultimately the ones to give him a job. So the least I can do is support him and try to understand his geek side, even if what I walk away with is just a little clearer an understanding and a bit more appreciation. It would be horrible of me to simply roll my eyes and dismiss his interests as trivial. My husband is important to me and so his interests need to be important to me as well.

And in turn, my husband participates in many Anna-centric things too such as live theatre. For instance, every year, we go see Bard on the Beach, even though I know he’d never see a Shakespeare play on his own.

I think it’s important that, even though we don’t have completely similar interests, we still respect each other’s. And we try, whenever and wherever possible, to participate in activites with each other. I used to worry that my husband wished that he had someone who was into all the same things he was into, much like his ex was. So he’d always have someone to talk to about the latest video game or someone to bitch to about the latest ways how George Lucas is screwing up Star Wars, etc. But now I see that it doesn’t matter that much that. Because we’re into different things, we both have the opportunity to learn from each other. And so long as we both share the same values and goals in life and we both can make each other laugh, that’s what’s most important.

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Dinner With My Parents

There’s no situation that makes me feel more childish and incompetent than when I’m around my parents. Under most normal circumstances, I regard myself as a fair mature and well-functioning adult. I have a job therefore a steady income. I am married. We own a condo. We have a mortgage. Heck, I even manage to cook dinners (most nights) and do my own laundry.

But around my parents, and most especially my mom, I feel like I’ve reverted back to being 15 again. Maybe it’s because my mom sometimes still sees me this way. But suddenly, I’m unsure of myself, even with simple things like tomorrow’s task of having my family over for a birthday dinner for my dad.

Stuart’s cleaned the house. I’ve made a pie. And tomorrow, I’ll be roasting vegetables as well as steaming up some green beans. My parents will be here for approximately three hours, leaving at nine because we have to work the next day. And for some reason, I’m ridiculous nervous and stressed out by all this. I’m suddenly not sure how my pie will turn out and if they’ll like it. I wonder if we should clean more, somehow noticing the minute specks of dust on the side tables. Will they complain about how loud it is here? Will they critique how small our place is? Will they start asking the baby questions again? Ugh.

And this is all the while knowing that everything will be alright because my parents love me. And they know I’m doing well. And I should just take it as simply as having any other guests over for dinner. It just feels like so much more.

The Things That Shaped My Youth

Inspired by Kloipy’s post: 10 Things That Shaped My Youth, I started to think about what influences in my youth shaped me to be who I am today. Here’s what I came up with:

1) My brother

VyTri & Me

Yes, my brother & I even shared haircuts.

My brother was my first hero. He was two years older than me which meant he was infinitely wiser. I wanted to be just like him. He loved to draw, so I loved to draw. He watched GI Joe and Transformers, I watched them with him. He played hockey, I ended up being the goalie. I was a tomboy because I was a reflection of my brother. He must have loathed me being his shadow and copycat, never getting a moment’s peace. But I adored him and lapped up every bit of play time I could get out of him.

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