Sibling question comes again

I was at one of Chris’s friend’s birthday parties last night, and an acquaintance and I were chatting about marriage, weddings, and how she feels “old” (she’s only turning 28 this year) since she’s not in any relationship and doesn’t see any person being a potential. She talked about her parents’ expectations of her, particularly since one of her sisters just got married and another is in a serious relationship. “Do you have any siblings?” she asked. I answered affirmatively and said I have one older brother. “Is he married already?” she then asked. I said, no.

I guess I wasn’t lying. I do have an older brother. He isn’t married. No one asked me if I had a living older brother. It’s always one of those slightly awkward questions because when it’s people I don’t know well who probably don’t need or want to know about my background, I try to stay away from revealing he’s gone for as long as possible. In one instance when I did reveal that he had passed away, some really inept person (who really did not know me at all) asked me how he died. That was not fun at all.

Rat poisoning

I had a dream that I had to fly home for an emergency. My mother called to let me know that Ed was acting suicidal, and that he needed me to be there as soon as possible. I flew home, and on an Uber ride back to my parents’ house, I called my mom. She’s out buying food near the house, so she isn’t home with him. I went ballistic on her. “How can you leave him alone? If he’s suicidal, you cannot leave him alone by himself!” My mom gets defensive and said she had errands to run and can’t just sit with him all day. “If he gets very suicidal, then he can always call 911!” That’s probably the stupidest thing to say given the circumstances, but then again, it’s not like much of what she says in these situations tends to make sense. I got off the phone with her as the driver parks in front of the house.

My mom was walking up the hill at the same time, so we entered the house together. I immediately called out Ed’s name, but no response. I ran around to each room to look for him, and I finally reached his bedroom, where I noticed his arm sticking out from under his bed, and I screamed. I pushed the bed aside to reveal him lying with his arms and legs sprawled out, not breathing, his eyes closed. On the night table next to him is a glass of orange juice with a bottle of rat poisoning next to it. Based on theĀ  looks of things, he had mixed the rat poisoning into his orange juice and downed it. I touched his chest to feel for a heart beat and touched his arms, and all I felt was cold as I tried to resuscitate him and yelled for our mom to call 911. But I knew it was too late.

Back from the dead for Montreal

Last night, I had a dream that Ed was still alive, but I didn’t really know he was alive. I went back home, and suddenly, he’s back at the dining room table when I walk through the door. I sit down next to him and he brings up that he heard about the trip I’ve been planning to Montreal for our parents. “Can I come, too?” he asked. His eyes looked so sweet and innocent, and instantly I felt this incredible sense of guilt that I didn’t invite him. But how could I have invited him if I thought he were dead? I agreed immediately that of course he could come, and that I’d buy his plane ticket to Montreal that night.

I called Chris after this conversation, and I said that Ed wanted to come to Montreal, too. “Are you sure he wants to come on a trip with your parents?” Chris asked. “I guess he’s going to have to stay in our room,” I responded. I proceeded to go online and buy my brother’s flight.

We’re not actually taking my parents on a trip to Montreal, but to Vancouver, and the entire time I am looking at flights and trying to figure out which ticket to buy him, I think, how is it possible that he was dead for the last year and nine months, yet he’s back now? Is everything just the way it was before he died? How are we supposed to act and just be now?


Boudoir photo shoots

After going through at least a dozen different photographer websites to pick a wedding photographer, I noticed that a number of them have a section on their website specifically for “boudoir.” I clicked on the first website with this and saw lots of glamorous shots of heavily made up women, lying on beds and posing by bright windows wearing little other than long strands of pearls or endless veils. This is a category of photography now — wedding boudoir?

Some people find these photos too self indulgent and excessive. I think about the average person who is not a model or celebrity, though. How often does the average person get professionally photographed? After your annual school portraits, senior portraits, and with the exception of your wedding, you probably won’t get professionally photographed much at all. I think boudoir photos are a nice way of capturing the “other” side of you that people don’t normally get to see … and it’s not like you would be sharing these photos with the entire world, anyway. Sometimes we need to be a bit self indulgent and treat ourselves. We should do more to capture our own beauty in a given point of time because who else is going to do it for us?


I spent a bit of time reviewing different photographers’ portfolios in the last couple of days during my free time, and I feel like making a decision of which photographer to choose is too difficult. They are all clearly very talented in their own ways and have their own styles. Some are a bit more romantic and flowery and dreamy, while others are more dramatic, almost saturated in emotions and colors of the day. How do you ultimately make the decision?

Some photographers say they need to “fit” with the couple that they are shooting. As far as I’m concerned, I’m not sure how I wouldn’t “fit” with anyone I’ve spoken with over Skype so far, as all of them seemed incredibly personable yet professional and fun at the same time (we’ve already weeded out photographers who were too exorbitantly priced). All of them have also not given me a straight answer when I ask how they might say “no” to weddings that they may not be a “fit” for. The only close answer is when the couple has indicated a type of photography that they prefer (rosy romance vs. theatrical drama). What makes a photographer so remarkable that you are moved to immediately choose them?

Online dating podcast

My friend, who is trying online dating, was planning to have a dessert/drinks date with someone new he met online dating tonight, but she flaked out on him at around 4:30pm today and claimed she had some big audition tomorrow that she has to practice for, so she couldn’t make it tonight. Clearly demoralized and frustrated, my friend said online dating has not yielded a single positive result for him. Instead, he’s had a number of people who have just decided to cancel on him last minute.

Ironically enough, today I also listened to a Freaknomics podcast on online dating. While looks are clearly a high priority for anyone who is looking for their future husband/wife/fling online, I found out that weight somehow doesn’t actually matter in the long run based on studies down. A chubby or slightly overweight person who is decent looking has the same chances of scoring a date online as does a person who is decent looking and slim. Maybe the U.S. is just becoming more accepting of overweight people. I guess in some ways we kind of have to be when I’ve been told that just by living in the U.S., I have a 70 percent chance of being overweight. Oh, America.


At my friend’s birthday event last night, I met a guy who I would definitely label a creeper. I realize that sounds really judgmental, but I couldn’t help it. As soon as he introduced himself and made eye contact with me, I felt uncomfortable. He stood too close to me, got his face too close to my face, and tried to bond over the fact that we both have roots in Vietnam. To make sure he knew that I wasn’t available or interested, I started talking with another of my friend’s friends about my fiance and our upcoming trip to Japan, where this friend is originally from. This creeper suddenly became super belligerent and started interrupting our conversation to talk about completely irrelevant topics just for the sake of inserting himself rudely into our conversation. It eventually became so unbearable that I looked at my time and decided it was late enough to leave and not look like I was ditching my friend. So I left.

On my short walk home, I started thinking about how people get labeled “creepy” or “shady,” and I realize that I couldn’t really pinpoint an exact quality or trait. They tend to seem like ordinary guys at first glance, but there’s a certain unsettling vibe that these guys always tend to send to those around them. I kind of feel bad for them, but at the same time, I wonder if they even realize they are being creepy.

Home cooking

Tonight at my friend’s birthday event, I met a young married couple who cooks meals from scratch almost every single night except when they go out to eat. In New York, this is a complete rarity. Even I don’t cook every night — Sunday is my night to cook for the week. Occasionally I will cook things on other days, but for the most part, it’s once or twice a week, and that’s it. Their main concerns are over sanitation, and just the fact that so many things that people find so daunting and complex, like a whole roasted chicken, are actually really simple if you are just willing to give it a little time to perfect your method and just do it and stop just talking about it. I couldn’t have agreed with them more, and as they were hating on companies like Blue Apron and Plated, which are like the lazy man’s way to cook, someone came by to defend it by saying that he actually didn’t have time to measure out simple things like salt.

I hate it when people say they don’t have time. We all have time. Most of us are busy with one thing or another. But we all make time for what’s important to us. Perhaps cooking and health are not important to him, but I personally think that everyone should know how to cook basic foods just as a method to survive and not get ripped off by restaurants… and to not always eat food that you don’t even know the ingredients of.

First day of spring

It’s the first day of spring today, which is the biggest joke at the office because New York is expected to get five to six inches of snow before today ends. The snow is not supposed to continue until tomorrow though, yet the program coordinator at my Saturday mentoring program has cancelled tomorrow morning’s session and has decided to reschedule for Easter weekend.

This made me really annoyed today, not just because I won’t be here Easter weekend, but considering the fact that it will be Easter weekend, didn’t he have the foresight to realize that both mentors and mentees may not be able to make it that weekend? We cancelled this session when it wouldn’t even be snowing on this Saturday, yet our very first session, it was snowing quite heavily on that morning, yet they still held the session. There’s not much rational logic that goes into making these decisions seemingly. I e-mailed him back and told him I thought it was a bad idea to reschedule for the Saturday before Easter given what day it precedes, yet he didn’t respond.

Wedding catastrophies

Tonight, I had two chats with two different prospective photographers I’m considering hiring for our wedding. One question I like to ask photographers is what is the craziest thing that has ever happened in a wedding that they did not anticipate, and how did they handle it (from a photography perspective). Tonight, I got an answer I wasn’t that prepared for. Usually when I ask this question, I really mean to ask if any spiffs happened with family, if family members were uncooperative with the photographer in getting the family/friends shots, etc. Tonight, a photographer told me that the worst thing that ever happened at a wedding was when one by one, each of the reception table centerpieces caught on fire because of the flowers hanging too low above the tea light candles. The bride had hired a florist who wasn’t experienced with doing weddings as a way to save money, but when the florist made the arrangements and placed the candles around the vases, she didn’t realize she was placing them ominously close to the flowers. So they all caught on fire. As a word of advice, she said to me, try to make sure you hire a florist who is very experienced with wedding florals and arrangements.

And of course, this light show was not photographed.