Hilary Duff in “According to Greta”



Hilary Duff is not exactly mesmerizing like Lindsay Lohan. But her Greta character really pulled me in. I don’t remember ever being as obvious as her when I was 16, but once again, I can relate to how she feels in a world “According to Greta.” I think Greta works for Hilary Duff because she’s so opposite of Lizzie McGuire and you don’t expect Hilary Duff to play someone like Greta. When you have low expectations, results turn out better. I didn’t expect her to play someone so troubled she wants to kill herself, so when she did it well, I really appreciated her performance as the work of art it was. Her clothes, her hair, her make-up, and her attitude all came together nicely to play a convincing suicidal girl. There was more to her character than just a girl contemplating ending her life. Those thoughts rarely come from nothing. When you find out more about her life, you begin to get inside her head, but at the same time feel bad for her. It’s funny both Lindsay Lohan and Hilary Duff ended up in movies with moms and grandmoms who send unruly daughters away to deal with their rebellious teenaged girls. Greta writes in a notebook and I immediately gravitate towards anyone who does that. Her thoughts she shares makes her accessible in a way you can understand her. The story itself delivers a good message: suicide affects those around you the most. People can only try to save you so much. If you kill yourself you hurt the people who love you the most. In the end only you can save you. Besides worrying about you, the people that love you have a lot of their own troubles to worry about. It’s not necessary to make others prove to you that they care about you by risking their lives to save you. Oh, and one more thing. If I had Greta as my waitress, I would request to be seated in her section every time as well.


Lindsay Lohan in “Georgia Rule”



My history of art professor taught me the meaning of mesmerized. The word came from a guy named Mesmer and right now I cannot think of exactly what she said he did, but it looks like his name has something to do with the spelling. There was also a painting she showed us with some guy who had a look on his face like he was in a trance or something. That’s the kind of feeling I get about Lindsay Lohan. I think ever since I saw her in “The Parent Trap,” I have been at least a little bit fascinated with her. It may have something to do with her being born exactly one day after me. It doesn’t matter. What matters is I can relate to her and she is talented. She is a talented actress and not such a bad singer as well. “Georgia Rule” was made during a time in my life when I really needed a story like it and I was mesmerized watching Lindsay Lohan’s performance. I’m not going to say I can relate to everything in this story. There’s no way. But the biggest thing I can relate to is Rachel’s need to rebel at her age. Her grandmother reminds me of my mother, and for that matter, Asian mothers in general. At her age I would not have had the lady balls to try to seduce the local vet, perform oral sex on someone else’s boyfriend, let alone someone else’s Mormon boyfriend, and go through child molestation by my stepfather. I feel for Rachel even though I have never gone through the same trauma. She is like all of us—someone who wants to be understood and loved by someone she can do the same for right back. To be honest, I don’t think I could have done what she did at any age, but because of the kind of broken girl she was playing, I can see why she did what she did. It doesn’t excuse her behavior, but by the end of the movie I think I’m in love with Georgia’s granddaughter as well.


Yes, guys, believe it or not, in this world post-Florida shooting, there is still some good left…

The other day I was driving home from work and I stopped behind some cars at a stoplight. I saw a guy pointing at the car next to him, as if to get the driver-of-the-car-he-was-pointing-to’s attention. I had no idea what this was about, but I kept my eyes on him, hoping to find out. He waited a second, but realizing the driver wasn’t going to get his message, got out of his vehicle and walked to the car he was pointing to and shut the trunk of that car. I didn’t even notice the trunk was open, but I did notice the guy after that random act of kindness. I got chills, like they were reminding me there is still some good left in the world. I drove behind him for a few more blocks, then another car butted in and then I wasn’t behind that guy anymore. I don’t know his name and I don’t really know what he looks like. But I don’t think I will ever forget him.

I can’t even tell you why this moment stood out so much to me. I’m sure lots of people all over the world are doing acts of kindness. Maybe it’s because of the timing of all the shootings happening lately. Maybe it’s my PMS. Who really knows? The news reports mostly bad things going on in the world, but often misses the good. When I witness something good like this it’s like I’m good-shocked or something. So much so the right words to describe it fail me…like right now…but no matter…I hope you all get to witness something good and not let anything bad happening in the world rob you of your joy. Because if you’re reading this, you deserve all the joy in the world.


NYE 2017 Reflection



“It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” — Mark Twain

On New Year’s Eve. I went to a party where I didn’t know the host and I didn’t know most of the people there. My best friend took me and the party people were her friends. Actually, she knew the host and some of the people there. I don’t know why, but it made me feel better knowing I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know everybody either.

I don’t know what it is about parties like these where I don’t know everybody, but I’ve noticed myself lately going into situations like this and reacting kind of shy I guess. The guy who opened the door had a “who are you?” look on his face. But we powered through, came in, found an empty sofa and sat down to a NYE game night. I didn’t have the best time. I shouldn’t say that. I didn’t have the expected best time. I shouldn’t say that either. I had a good time, but not the best in the way I had anticipated. Maybe I best just describe what happened and you can describe it to yourself.

The games were fine. In fact, they were exciting and a lot of fun. They were right up my alley what with guessing words, captioning meme pictures and the like, and I appreciated the fact that our host wanted to check to see if we would be OK with expletives in one. (We weren’t, based off the fact there was questioning involved and mumbling and such.) The party people knew each other, thus they were their funny entertaining selves and while all the other guests kind of look confused with our showing up, one girl had a friendly face on and she ended up being the only one I connected with all evening besides my best friend. Everybody else had their game faces on. (Haha.) I think my brain was slow. I think it had been a long day of fun, but in a good way. Not a long day in the typical sense of the word. Or maybe I just reverted to my old self. But my fear of embarrassment took over and I was suddenly not shy exactly, but not my college self who would have handled the situation with popularity and coolness and boldness.

All of a sudden every game that required me to talk was awkward for me. One of the first ones we played required me to describe a tool I needed to fix a spaceship and ask for said tool and hope someone had that tool on a card that could trade a card with me. For each card I got, anything that had specific instructions on it like “pass all your cards to the left” was easy for me to announce to the players, but anything that I had a tool on it I needed to quickly describe I remained mute in my seat. Time was of the essence, but my brain didn’t get the memo. Our host called me quiet and later labeled my best friend as such. Inside my head I got defensive. I felt my face burning up a little, but I didn’t say anything. (Ha!) My best friend couldn’t hold it in. She got vocal with her defensiveness. I knew the feeling, but I didn’t see the point for me to waste my breath on people I didn’t know. They don’t know me and I don’t owe them an explanation, and it got me thinking people get defensive when they are called quiet. Quiet is seen as a bad quality. I disagree.

I don’t think quiet is a bad thing. It is not automatically a negative trait. Why is it by default seen that way anyway? Quiet is what makes us good observers. Quiet is how we observe the loud ones, the ones who are in love with their voices and end up saying stupid things as a result. Quiet is not a bad thing. It means we are thinkers. It means we are processors. It means we actually think about what we are going to say before we say it. It means we are good listeners. It means we have good ideas and possess enough patience to wait for the right moment to do something and get lucky.

At the same time, I think there’s no need to get defensive if someone calls you that. Once you do, you validate the idea that being quiet is a bad thing. The best thing to do is remain calm, observe, form your opinion of them, and know secretly in your heart that you are better than this, better than what they label you. Who you are is never defined by a single moment. It’s just not that simple. We are all walking kaleidoscopes. As long as you know at the core who you really are, it doesn’t matter what people label you or say about you behind your back. After all, they need you more than you need them.


Humanly Obsolete

Our biggest fear is not to be needed anymore. It goes with not achieving what we really want to do in our lives. Just ask your parents or grandparents. If there was a dream they really wanted to realize, but didn’t get to after having kids or some other type of interruption, they probably are hoping their kids will realize it for them to kind of continue the journey, to keep the dream alive.

Then there are the parents who end up making their kids their life and when their kids no longer need financial support, the visits disappear completely. But enough about parents. I didn’t mean to make this about parents. Some people don’t have parents.

I wanted to focus on the idea of basing our self-worth on being needed. It could be a job we really value or a relationship with a family member where the family member depends on us to be there for them, anything like that. We get used to the job or family member being there, but then one day the job changes and maybe we find ourselves looking for new positions or the family member grows up or heals and doesn’t need us around anymore. What happens then?

Do we lose who we are or find something else to base our self-worth on? And if we do have to shift our focus, what should that be? Maybe the question isn’t what we should focus on. Maybe it’s simply let’s stop measuring and start living.


Cuando tenía…



Singing makes me feel better when I’m down. I can’t explain it. Just like I can’t explain why I’m not athletic, but I can play ping pong and practice archery (I just know play archery sounds wrong, but I don’t know what the correct verb is that goes with archery) like a pro. OK, maybe not like a pro, but you catch my drift.

When I didn’t know any better, I used to want to be good at everything so I would never be embarrassed or make a mistake doing anything. Trust me, as much as I tried to be perfect, I didn’t avoid being embarrassed or making mistakes. I guess that either proves nobody can truly be perfect or you can still be embarrassed or make mistakes even if you do everything as carefully and accurately as you possibly can. Either way this conversation makes me feel like this: o.0

This doesn’t mean I tried everything. It just means everything I did try I wanted to be perfect at it, and the sooner the better. There were some things I avoided trying at all because I figured if I never tried, there’s no way I could embarrass myself or make a mistake.

One time I took this quiz in Girls’ Life to find out what is my biggest fear and death was the last thing on my list. Failure and embarrassment were my top two. (I don’t remember what number three was.) Ha! Funny how death means a guaranteed no failure and embarrassment. Maybe that’s where the phrase, “I’d rather die than…” comes from.

But now I’m older, not necessarily wiser, and I know there’s no way to go about life avoiding failure and embarrassment altogether. The only difference is now, I just sing it all away instead of not trying.


Why You Need To See “Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of”

Below is an essay I wrote meant for submission for somewhere else, but now I’m free to post here. In the spirit of the band officially forming on April 20, 1993, I meant to post closer to the anniversary of that date, but only got to it now. Enjoy.




Mary Lou Kownacki once said, “There isn’t anyone you couldn’t love once you’ve heard their story.” During their In a World Like This Tour two years ago, my girlfriends and I went to one of the Backstreet Boys’ 20th anniversary concerts and it was obvious the fans in attendance had grown up listening to them. We were surrounded by girls who smoked and drank beers, holding a couple of Straw-Ber-Ritas in hand ourselves. It’s true that weddings and funerals bring people together, but so does BSB. The same girlfriends and I recently reunited to watch the band’s “Show ‘Em What You’re Made of” documentary and coincidentally, BSB just released the Deluxe Edition on We Are Colony. While watching the film, it was Mary Lou Kownacki’s quote I couldn’t stop thinking of throughout the experience.

Not everyone can relate to being in a boy band or even being a fan of a boy band, but everyone can relate to having a dream and the passion to go after it. For anyone who has something they want to accomplish, BSB is an inspiration. The documentary gives a candid look inside the lives of each BSB member, from starting out as kids dreaming of performing on stage in front of a huge crowd to becoming a popular band in Europe selling millions of records to cursing each other out through the struggles the band faces while working on a new album. Each band member started out as a boy, but there is no doubt they have all matured into Backstreet Men.

Watching this movie with my girlfriends helped us bond while laughing at the goofballs that we didn’t know the boys were, wishing we could go back in time when the boys were just starting out. Nick admitted the band began as a manufactured boy band and there were a lot of stereotypes associated with that, but like Pinocchio, they became a real band. We could see the progression from having everyone else telling them what to do and what to say to 20 years later, making their own record and thinking for themselves. We watched them call Howie “Twinkle Toes,” Brian and Nick “Frick and Frack,” and A.J. model his “Drive” jacket. They love to play basketball, especially Nick and Brian, and when their manager at the time, Lou Pearlman, first put the group together, they made $75 per week. When talking about when they first started out, A.J. said, “This makes sense. Our voices blend perfectly.”

But with every journey, there are road bumps along the way and one of BSB’s biggest challenges is getting Brian’s voice back on track. Brian has been diagnosed with vocal tension dysphonia, a condition that adds stress on his vocal cords, making it hard for him to get the same sound he used to be known for, jeopardizing his part as one of the band’s lead singers. When discussing his voice, he said, “I just want to be me,” and you can hear how frustrated he’s been, dealing with the inconsistency in the function of his voice. Meanwhile, even though Lou was like a father figure to the boys, especially for Kevin, who was able to quit his multiple jobs at Walt Disney World to do what he loves to do full-time, they find out Lou hadn’t been truthful to them and end up filing a lawsuit against him for stealing most of their earnings.

The fact that the boys can openly cry in front of each other and hug each other to show love and support whether it’s Kevin talking about his dad’s cancer or Nick talking about being bullied in school for being an odd kid shows not just how brotherly close they are, but how human they are. They may be pop stars, but first and foremost they are people with emotions and real problems: weight gain, drug addiction, alcohol abuse, depression, a “bad boy” phase, and a lawsuit just to name a few. They have said things to each other ranging from “you are dead to me” to “I know what you’ve been through.” They started out doing free shows before getting a record deal, performing at grade schools across the country, proving that they can sing a cappella “at the drop of a hat.” In a music world saturated with auto-tune, it’s comforting to know these guys can sing for real.

Yet the thing that will get to you the most is watching each BSB go back and recognizing their music and dance teachers. These teachers saw them as boys who needed an escape, as students who were learning how to dance, and as singers who had heavenly gifts to share with the world. Those teachers knew back then and looking at the Backstreet Boys now, who would deny it? To answer their own question, the Backstreet Boys are made of persistence, resilience, friendship, brotherhood, authenticity, and family. Most of all, they are overcomers, and you can’t help but like them for it.

The story opened with the boys hiking up a hill and ended with them making it to the top together, all in one piece despite doubts and challenges while climbing the rocks. It is very much a metaphor of their careers. Like ‘em or not, BSB played a huge part in forming the music of the ‘90s and it’s pretty clear they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. Many groups have come and gone, but Kevin has come back for good now and over 20 years later they are still making music together, this time around with more instrumentals and writing their own songs on their own record label. The journey is by no means over and there’s still a lot of healing and baggage to deal with, but one thing’s for certain—there’s never been a better time to say Backstreet’s back, alright!