Ode to air travel

After the Germanwings plane crash last week, a lot of people are on edge when they are flying. It’s been three major plane crashes in about one year’s time, and as someone who flies pretty frequently, even I feel a bit weird thinking about all these things happening. Rationally, I know the probability is so low, but none of us are fortune tellers, and none of us can see into the future. Sometimes, uncertainty can be scary.

So it really did not help when on my connecting flight to Charlotte en route to Fort Lauderdale today for work, after our plane is in the air, suddenly someone starts screaming, and another person starts repeatedly yelling, “Help! Help! Help!” This is all happening in the back of the plane, and I’m closer to the front and can see nothing. Everyone is turning around to see what is going on, and people immediately are reacting. It’s like mass hysteria on the airplane. The guy next to me is pounding his head. It looks like the other guy next to me is praying. We finally realize what all the commotion is about — someone passed out in the back of the plane. The flight attendants reacted quite quickly, got him oxygen, and he was fine in the end. They had EMT waiting for him when we landed in Charlotte. Everything ended up being fine.

Well, that was a lot of drama for my morning. I didn’t really know how to react or what to think, so I just sat there and waited for this hysteria to pass. I don’t even know what I’d do in a real emergency on an airplane… since once you are on an airborne plane, there’s really nowhere else to go, right?

Dry meat

I hate roasting turkey. It’s one of those things I think I never really get quite right. The one time I did it and the dark meat came out incredibly moist and tender, the breast still ended up a bit dry. It’s saved quite easily with some good gravy, but it still drives me crazy. And that was when I had the turkey cut into parts because I can’t roast a whole turkey in our tiny oven.

I tried roasting just drumsticks and thighs yesterday afternoon, and the meat was every kind of “bad” there is: some pieces were rubbery, others were tough, and some were just so hard that I had to throw them out. There were a few small morsels of moist pieces, but I felt like my entire afternoon was wasted on this meat. I eventually salvaged most of it and made a curry for it, but I still felt like a failure. I’m determined to try a brine to get this right the next time… which will probably be for early Thanksgiving in November.

Some people think cooking comes naturally to people. I think those some people are lazy asses who have no idea how much concentration and work and effort and tweaking goes into these things. Yes, some people have more of a natural interest in cooking, but that doesn’t necessarily make them good. This is one of my cooking fails, along with my attempts at Korean pajeon, Cuban rice and beans, and Portuguese bread (that was so bad that my mom banned me from using her kitchen to re-attempt making it ever again).

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.


As with the still missing Malaysia Airlines plane last year, the Germanwings plane crash was a devastation also is difficult to understand, especially given that we now know the pilot who crashed the plane suffered from depression, was suicidal, and purposely crashed the plane. Every time I see a headline about it or an article, my eyes have watered this week to think of all the innocent lives that had to die because of one man’s suffering. We can’t fully blame him because of his suffering and disease…. But can we?

I look back on my brother’s death quite often, and I think about all the ways he might have thought about killing himself that would have been “easy.” A self-inflicted gun shot wound if he could get a hold of a gun was one of them. Jumping off a bridge was another, and sadly the way he chose to go. Walking into oncoming traffic? Yes, that would be easy, but that would adversely affect the lives of the driver and whoever else was in the car. Ed was so painfully cognizant of his own pain and how it could affect other people. I’m assuming that this pilot was so blinded by his pain that he couldn’t see this the way Ed did. One of the things Ed said during a meltdown he had with my mom the year he died was, “One day, I will disappear. You won’t know where I’ve gone, so don’t come looking for me.”

I still get choked up remembering my mother telling me this after the fact.

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.