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This is what grief feels like…

It’s been 1.5 years since Dad passed and lately all I can think about is what he looked like right after he passed. I play the images over and over in my mind from the day at the hospice and the day at our private viewing and remember how cold he felt when my lips touched his forehead to kiss him “good-bye.” My mind keeps blocking out images of my mother weeping next to me at the hospice and the funeral home because selfishly, I don’t want to cry uncontrollably while I’m doing the dishes, or working from home, or trying to fall asleep, or looking out the window, or taking a shower, or reading a book, or driving to the grocery store. 1.5 years and it still feels like it just happened. You just want to be able to talk to him again. To hear him laugh again. To see him find another way to tease Mom again. To watch him hit another golf ball into the pond again. To hear him say, “Time’s up! Time’s up! Time’s up!” when you’re taking too long to get ready for work in the morning. To watch an NBA game on TV with him again. 1.5 years and all I can do is finally shed some real tears when I get to the part in my J.K. Rowling book where Harry Potter loses his godfather Sirius Black. Harry Potter, I feel you. I was too young and naïve when I read it the first time. I really get it now.

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feeling like a real writer at YALLSTAYHOME a.k.a. YALLWest

I have not felt more at home than I did this past weekend during YALLSTAYHOME. It is normally called YALLWest and would have taken place at Santa Monica, but due to the coronavirus, it became YALLSTAYHOME in the format of several consecutive Zoom meetings. Attendees could pick and register for the specific meeting they wanted to attend and registration could include entering to win some of the fun book giveaways if so desired. YALLWest is the sister festival to YALLFest and both festivals are celebrations of the reading and writing world, with a focus on YA authors. I registered for as many panels I was interested in, but due to my schedule, I was not able to attend all the ones I registered for. However, cross my fingers that because I registered, later I will get a link to each recorded session. Hoping for the best here, guys!

Anyway, the whole festival ran from Friday, April 24 – Sunday, April 26 and here are the panels I registered for: Fierce Friday: Create Your Own Fantasy Story, I Read YA@Home, Opening Ceremony + Keynote, Creativity in the Time of Corona, Modern Magic Worldbuilding, This American Experience, PM Keynote with Brandon Sanderson, YALLSTAYHOME Smackdown, Suckage is Part of Writing, Remember High School?, and Writing Empathy. There were so many others as well that I did not register for just because I did not have room in my schedule! There were so many authors there including Marie Lu, Julie Buxbaum, Leah Johnson, Marisa Kanter, Bill Konigsberg, Alex London, Samuel Miller, Zan Romanoff, Tara Sim, Angie Thomas, Maggie Tokuda-Hall, and F.C. Yee.

I have got to say, I want to read all of their books!! And…I felt like Belle when she opens her eyes for the first time inside Beast’s library. With each panel I learned all about each author’s background and writing journey and in the case of Brandon Sanderson, got to meet his pet macaw as well. With each panel I learned the struggle is real during this pandemic. Many authors feel that it is harder to write staying inside all the time. I learned stuff like you can build a world based off of your main character’s needs and it’s important to write your truth and teens go to novels as a form of escape, some making more friends with the characters in the books than in real life and there is a now a lot more representation from Asian authors to Muslim authors to queer authors to biracial authors. A lot of times someone becomes an author because they weren’t reading books with their race or culture represented, so they became the first to write that representation. That is awesome!

It was also awesome to finally experience the Smackdown. I had read about it beforehand and I really looked forward to it. The Smackdown did not disappoint: Dumbledope and Snape Dog were there for starters, and it kicked off with a Cards Against Humanity type of game and I only just learned how to play this game a couple months ago, pre-coronavirus and a Harry Potter version, no less. Let me tell you there is nothing more LOL than this game. There was another segment a lot like MTV Cribs and then a Pet Roast and finally a dance party at the end. Once coronavirus is over this festival is definitely on my top ten list of places want to go to for real.

Finally, noticing there are a lot more Asian authors out there now made me feel comforted and happy and giddy. I seriously could not stop smiling. Then I noticed how welcoming and inviting and safe these panels were. It didn’t matter what someone’s background was, everyone was open to listening to everyone’s stories and where they came from and how they got into writing. I realized writing = life. There’s going to be racism, suicide, queer life, privileged life, and everything else in between in stories and everyone accepts this as is. Many of the authors mentioned inspiration can come from anywhere and even talked about how writing can get so hard sometimes you end up playing a video game instead of writing sometimes. I could not agree more. I love how relatable each of the panels were and I truly felt right at home. I left the festival with a feeling I’ve known all along and just needed a little reminder: This, reading and writing and talking about reading and writing until the cows come home, is the community I belong in.

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current events ramblings o.0

Well it finally happened. I saw a video on YouTube about the anti-Asian racism that has been going on around the world due to the coronavirus encouraging millennials, especially those of Asian descent, to speak up and do something that is positive with regards to all this hate. As a direct result of watching this video, I now feel compelled to DO SOMETHING. So I’m scribbling away, but I’m not sure how this post is going to end. Wish me luck…

So in America I think this kind of hate is more prevalent in cities in California and New York. So far I am lucky enough I have not experienced it in the Midwest. Cross my fingers I will not. I have read news articles and seen news clips on some of the violence Asians have gone through and I will say I have not been able to watch to the end of the videos. I don’t know if it’s just my personality or what, but I literally don’t have the stomach for witnessing acts of violence. I want to cry before I even finish watching the clips and they are really short videos, so what does that say about me? And this got me thinking of racism in general, not just during this pandemic. One simple question about racism: why?

What I mean is, why does racism even have to exist? It’s the UGH of all questions, at least in YuMin’s mind. >.< I have so many thoughts running through my brain right now on this topic and I know it’s not realistic to share every single grain, BUT I don’t think I can remain silent anymore. Since there are a lot of simpletons out there who care about whose fault something is or how one skin color is obviously more superior to another, let me tell you something. Did it ever occur to you that maybe people are different skin colors because of where they were located geographically in relation to where the sun hits the hardest at the equator? And each person of that location grew up around the natural resources that were already there. Those resources available to them helped to cultivate the unique skills in those people that they can apply to this day. That is why everyone is not only a different race, but different culture, different occupation, different diet, etc. DUH!

As far as the blame game goes, it’s so stupid when used on anything. I don’t care what you believe in, but did it ever occur to you that when you blame someone else, one day you’ll be blamed for something as well? Have you never done anything wrong? No one can say they have never made a mistake or never done anything wrong. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you believe in. I really don’t know why people don’t just simply treat others the way they would want to be treated like they were taught in kindergarten. Clichés are clichés for a reason, folks.

Again, this does not even begin to scratch the surface of all my thoughts and all that I’m experiencing, but I wanted to throw these coins in the fountain now and see what wishes come to life.

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observe

Mondays are when our trash and recycling pick up happens. It’s easy to watch it happen when you are always at home. I can work and look out the window at the same time when I hear the trucks coming. I can see if they like that I put our trash on top of our recycling to prevent the wind from littering. (So far, the recycling truck picks up the trash bag and tosses it aside before dumping the contents of our recycling bin into the truck. I’m guessing this means they prefer the trash standing on its own, not on top of the recycling bin.) I can pull an Aunt Petunia and see when our neighbors’ trash is put out too late or when the wind starts littering their trash when they put it side by side their recycling bin the night before when Chicago winds gusts through the ‘hood.

I can see all of this and suddenly all I can think about is my ninth grade American Government teacher. He said he is grateful for the government because without it it’d be very stinky in the world and there’d be no mail. Well, just as I can watch the trash pick up every Monday, I can watch the mail carrier every day if I wanted to. He was right. During these uncertain times, I’m truly glad we still have trash pick up and mail. It’s just I hope I haven’t been taking these services for granted and I hope I never do. It’s funny the things we notice now that we are at home all the time.

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Blind Date with a Book

It was a Saturday of course. This particular Saturday was on February 24, 2018. I can’t believe it’s been a little over two years already! I feel blessed now thinking of all the moments I’ve gotten to share with my Nerdy 30s gals. I know I’m still behind in documenting our adventures, but I bet I’ll be able to catch up soon now. I also think if you’re going to go on a blind date, the best option is with a book. It shows up with a story to tell and you can stop it from speaking at any time and pick up where you left off at any time. If you don’t like it you can sell it or gift it to someone who will like it. If you do like it, you’ll be able to discover a new genre and find more like it to read. Win-win.

On this particular blind date, we met at La Bodega. I’m pretty sure it was during brunch hour, not just because I’m looking at the eggs I had, but because this group loves meeting during brunch hour. Don’t ask me how many of us were there. I honestly don’t remember anymore, but if you see the table of books, you’ll see there was a good number of us. La Bodega is a Spanish restaurant known for its tapas. Yummy.

I brought my absolute favorite book of all time, the one that made me fall in love with reading, A Ring of Endless Light. I read this novel for the first time in fifth grade and I remember sneaking it under the covers at night and waking up at 5:00 a.m. to find out what happens next. It was the first book I found out what “couldn’t put down” meant. I am still inspired to this day by this book to keep reading and keep writing. It is an oldie and a goodie.

Since each book is covered in a brown paper wrapping with just the description on the outside, there is no way to know what book you are picking, but of course, you do get to decide based on the words used to describe the content. I ended up with Beloved, a classic, but yet not one I enjoyed. Maybe if I studied it in school it would make it enjoyable to me, but on my own, no. So unfortunately you’re not going to get any words from me about it.

Hey, a blind date doesn’t work out every time, right? At least this one I didn’t have to delete a number or anything…XD…but seriously though, this was a lot of fun and I’m glad I went. I wouldn’t have had my first sangria and I got to go back to a restaurant I like eating at, but don’t get to go too often due to distance. But the best part was getting to get together with my girls and discussing a lot of different books across the board as well as why each book was special to the lady who brought it. Another win-win if you ask me. 😉

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everything in between is missed

Audits. Now there’s a fun word. It’ll set people off like insane overtime the first three months or so of the year for some. That being said, I’m sure many companies require employees to take annual tests that they have to pass to be fully aware of all the companies’ policies, procedures, protocols, and the like, like security training and what have you to be able to stay in business. But all trigger words aside, this workweek I took a security training on phishing, malware, passwords, WiFi security, and the like and it made me think about all the hackers and launderers out there who find it their right to take other people’s hard-earned living right out of their bank accounts. If you have that kind of brain and time on your hands, you have that kind of time to work for your own hard-earned living at something that’s actually legal. Hmph.

It must go back to society’s love for instant gratification. There’s a nod to all the kids who liked to cheat on tests. Why do all the hard work of studying night after night for two whole weeks when you can just show up on the day of the test and copy off of the genius next to you? We have instant noodles with 1,000% sodium because why would you want to go through all the trouble of collecting ingredients, chopping, dicing, spicing and putting all raw edibles into a pot or wok and turn on the stove and cook something that is fresh, to your taste, and not about to cause hypertension or clog your arteries? All for the love of instant gratification. I think the only thing people don’t want instant gratification for is playing video games. What’s the fun in starting a game expecting to encounter dragons and collecting coins and having only three lives and getting eaten by a hippo and all that jazz only to end up at the ultimate level already having skipped over all those obstacles? Nada! That wouldn’t be a very fun game at all.

Yet hackers and launderers exist, oh my! So maybe those things are not all connected, BUT the point is I don’t get why people have to be so evil and selfish like that. Why would you do it? Why would you prey on the innocent? The thing in common with all these scenarios is people like avoiding or skipping all the “boring” parts and going straight to the “fun” parts. The truth is we have to go through all the “boring” parts to get to the “fun” parts to make the “fun” parts worthwhile. But people don’t want to go through the “boring” parts because those parts are boring. A lot of times they are hard to go through and nobody likes difficult tasks unless the payoff at the end is truly rewarding. So it becomes this sickly merry-go-round of working hard vs. reaping the rewards vs. skipping straight to the reaping rewards part.

Every day we wake up and have many decisions to make. Press play. Press stop. Press rewind. Press fast forward if you have to. But whatever you do, don’t press skip.

 

 

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a matter of perspective

OK I just got back from the grocery store and it seems to me that America loves their eggs, meat (especially beef), bread, and pasta. But nobody cares about washing their clothes or eating candy. Some have started wearing face masks, while many more have started wearing disposable gloves. Whenever someone coughs, about 10 or so heads turn to look and those 10 or so try to move away. When the cashier asked if I found everything OK, I mention I didn’t get any chicken and he says I have to get here at 7 in the morning if I want chicken. Good to know.

I remember when I was in high school, my dad tried to tell me that I don’t want to stay a cashier in the grocery store for the rest of my life. I know what he was really trying to say: he looks down on those people because his daughter has the potential to do so much more with her life than just be a cashier. Back then I knew what he meant, but I didn’t know what he meant at the same time. Makes sense? Because what does it mean to be just a cashier? Is it because the job itself is not too complicated and anyone with some high school education can do it? Are people who go to college and beyond automatically more respectable or something? Or is it because there’s a class division that is decided by what job you have and cashier is on the low end?

Flash forward to me talking to a friend a few years ago at her house about what he said. She and I both came to the conclusion that we disagreed with my dad. I told her that the cashier in the grocery store might just be the most important person in the world. Well, now here we are. I was right. This You-Know-Who virus sure showed us of Lord Voldemort proportions that if there is no cashier at the grocery store, you don’t get to eat. Well, unless there’s self-checkout. (That is so not the point!) Flash forward a few more years and my dad’s no longer here to tell me what he really thinks. I am in no way trying to paint him as a bad guy. He really did have his reasons for saying about cashiers what he did and probably I am the only one besides my mom who really gets it. All I’m saying is, when all is said and done, there’s nothing wrong with being a cashier at a grocery store.

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wyrd

I don’t know what to say except for life is hard. For as long as I am breathing and my eyes are open, there’s something to do, some business to take care of. I guess in the end that’s a good thing because you never want life to get boring. But it’s also an exhausting way to live. I don’t know if the way I choose to live my life is making it exhausting, I just know there are some days when I wish I can take one day, just one day, and figure everything out about my life for the rest of my life. I never do and I think I need to every once in a while check in with myself and take a whole day off and figure some things out if I can’t figure everything out. Maybe that’s what I need to do, but I never do it. It seems whether I like it or not, I’ve put my brain on some sort of survival mode. As if I’m programmed just to solve the problem right in front of me and not plan for anything. But that’s so not it either because I have several planners to help me shape my future. I think I just get too distracted too easily and then time runs out and I mess something up that messes up the plan.

EDIT:

I made those words before COVID-19 has forced as all to be hermits. Now that it has forced me as well, I think I may have gotten my wish. Isn’t life weird like that? And this time I mean weird, as in wyrd, as in fate. So I guess this means watch out! You don’t know what’s coming up next on this blog of mine. I may have some life-changing news to share soon. Or…you may still see my confusing self trying to make sense of it all. Either way, here’s hoping this time in isolation will help us all grow into decent human beings.

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the umpteenth time

I hate this part right here. This is a story of a girl who got her heart broken again for the umpteenth time by the same guy, just looks different than the last one and the one before that. She notices all the toxic warning signs, but chooses to ignore them, though not on purpose. It’s like her brain is programmed to fall this way. It goes into a loop and can’t get out. Someone please smash it and watch it crumble like a chocolate chip cookie so she has a chance to start over as a different girl. Maybe a lobotomy would be easier. Who really knows? I just know I hate this part right here. This girl convinces herself there’s something wrong with her while her friends reassure her there’s nothing wrong with her. Maybe so, but that means there’s something wrong with love. Why else would this be the umpteenth time? Or maybe it wasn’t so much love that got her, but false hope? False hope will get anyone at any time. All the questions drive her nuts and she knows many of them she does not have the answers to nor will she get them. Only time and writing private letters help. After a while the umpteenth will fade back into an unpleasant memory, no, just a memory. Umpteenth will just be another lesson learned. I hate this part right here. Because no matter how many lessons I’ve learned in matters of the heart, I end up failing.

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*~*Holiday Traditions*~*

For many American families, the holidays are a time to celebrate Christmas and the New Year. For some families the traditions look a little different because of the different holidays celebrated. Whatever the case may be, the holidays are a time where families get together. But it’s not just the immediate family. This includes the extended family and anyone else who is considered a part of the family. It’s one of the times during the year when everyone gets to see everyone again and catch up. Sometimes there’s a lot of good feelings, other times there are some not so good feelings. There might even be a few inside jokes here and there. But for the Ye family, it’s not like that.

I’m not sure how many American families go through the holidays like this, but I’m sure my family isn’t the only one. I have a big family, especially on my father’s side. In this way we are no different from many American families out there. We just don’t get to see everybody every year because most of the extended family is in China. So while everyone else gets together at Grandma’s or whatever, we get together at home, at my parents’ house. The immediate family was my dad, my mom, and me. Now it’s just me and my mom. Yes, I lost my dad in 2018 and just a few days ago on the 3rd, I lost my cat. She was a part of my immediate family in the sense that I loved her like a family member. I believe pets really do become a part of the family and losing her was one of the hardest things I just went through in my life. I know I sound dramatic, but I don’t care. She is my first cat I have lost this way and things will never be the same going forward. But her story is for another time.

I am lucky I still have my mom. She keeps in touch with her side of the family on a regular basis because she loves her sisters to death (excuse the diction here) and wants to keep tabs on Grandpa. However, like my cat story, right now I’m not going to get into why we don’t really keep in touch with my dad’s side of the family, especially now that he’s gone. So it’s just the two of us. We are a small family, but we have the flexibility to do whatever we want. We don’t have to follow any traditions and there are no awkward uncles to face.

This past Christmas Mom and I went to see the new “Little Women” movie that came out that day starring Emma Watson and Meryl Streep. It has always been this way, but we noticed the movie theater is one of the few places that stays open on Christmas Day and therefore one of the only places you can buy food should you not have food at home. We immediately thought you could spend the whole day at the movies on Christmas Day if you wanted. I’m going to remember that in case I ever need it. We don’t really have any traditions. I think at the beginning, we did – with decorations and dinner parties and presents and even cards. Remember those? Then my cat would always play with the Christmas tree until the whole thing got knocked over. Then I went away to college so we started taking family vacations every year around Christmas break since there were no family friends nearby anymore. Then two Christmases ago he was gone and Mom and I haven’t found a new routine yet.

The holidays don’t feel like anything different compared to what many families in America experience. It’s just the two of us. No travelling, unless we decide to go on vacation. No traditions because I’m too old for presents and Mom and I both don’t like getting a lot of “stuff.” We’d rather spend time together and gain experiences instead. So really the holidays equals a big question mark for us at the moment.