Home from the hospital

After one night at the hospital having every possible test under the sun, my dad is back home. So is my mom because she decided to stay overnight with him and be his 24/7 nurse. That’s the way it is in my family; my mom refuses to ever let my dad spend a night alone in the hospital, just like when he was hospitalized during his heart surgery 2.5 years ago.

I called home to talk to my dad to get details on what happened, and it was clear he was not happy to share details. The doctor confirmed it was a stomach virus, so no medication was needed to recover; he just needed to rest and get more fluids and electrolytes in his system. I asked why they had to take him to the ER; he didn’t appreciate this question and thought I was challenging him on why he was in there. Everything in our family is perceived as an attack. Then, when I suggested he get at least eight glasses of water a day, that’s when he really lost it.

“NO, YOU’RE WRONG!” he exploded. “The nurse said FOUR glasses of water a day, otherwise it will be too much and I could get water toxicity (I’m pretty certain no one on earth has ever died from drinking eight glasses of water in a day). I’m sick and tired of you! You don’t know anything!”

“You know what,” I said calmly. “All I’m trying to do is ask questions to find out what happened, and you want to argue with me. If you don’t want to drink eight glasses of water a day and only want to drink four, then that’s fine. Bye.” Click. As I hung up, he was still yelling, but who knows what he was yelling about at that point because I stopped listening.

I ended the call with my fingers trembling. When my dad gets angry, it’s like the entire earth shakes. He’s always so blinded by by his own lack of rationale, by anything that even is slightly in opposition of what he thinks, that the only way he knows how to respond is to yell and insult you (that is, if you’re immediate family. If not, he’ll yell about it while talking to himself later. He is the only person he is fully comfortable talking to). His bellowing angry voice used to terrify my brother and me, and the infuriating feeling it gave me when I was younger was in me in that moment.

And that’s when I smiled. I’m so happy I no longer live at home or anywhere even remotely close to that house of hell.

Stomach virus

It looks like my dad is getting hospitalized tonight for what appears to be symptoms that are either of a stomach virus or food poisoning. My mom thinks he’s dying… because she always thinks he’s about to be dying. This is what happens when you get a fever and diarrhea; people think you must be dying.

I’m back in New York, but I still have to deal with all this dysfunction.


I’m currently sitting on a flight to return back to New York City today. Thank God. If I had to stay here a day longer, I probably would have lost it and really screamed at both my parents after already yelling at my uncle yesterday.

In the midst of trying to keep up with the news given the Muslim and refugee ban and protests at major international airports around this country, I’ve had my own version of personal hell to deal with at home. It all started yesterday afternoon when I was making brownies at home at the request of my mother. She went out to do her usual JW preaching, and my father was at home with me. He complained to me that he was feeling weak and had a slight fever, so I told him to lie down while I made him some ginger-honey tea. My mom, the paranoid woman she is, called three times in two hours to ask if everything was all right. I said everything was fine and that the brownies came out chewy. I said that my dad was feeling weak, so I told him to lie down. He insisted he still wanted to come to dinner but didn’t want to walk, so my aunt drove all of us to the restaurant a few hours later. We arrived at the restaurant; he greeted no one and scowled at everyone. He sat down at the table with his arms crossed, looking like a tense and unhappy toddler. My mom arrived later, and he kept snapping at her. She asked him what was wrong, and he responded, “Don’t you know? I have a fever!” No, she didn’t know because he never told her.

Dinner went on, and she tried to get him to eat, and he continued to whine and whinge in the same tone of a young child, insisting he didn’t want more food and didn’t have an appetite. My parents socialized with no one except for the occasional question to my cousin sitting next to them. They sat there as “statues” as my parents once criticized my mother-in-law of being. My mom got angry at me when I served tea to my uncle and cousins before her and my dad when I didn’t even see that they had finished their tea. Then, when dinner ended, we went home. The whole crew came back to the house to hang out for a little bit, and while everyone went upstairs to my aunt’s, my dad went into his room and shut the door. My mom followed him.

After spending some time upstairs, Chris arrived back again, and my mom pulled me aside into her room. “Why didn’t you tell me that your father had a fever?” she says in her signature icy tone. “If I had known he had a fever, I would have come home earlier to take care of him, and I definitely would not have let him go to dinner. See what happens when you don’t tell me anything? You have to tell me these things. This is when things go wrong. He won’t tell me because he doesn’t know how. Your father doesn’t know how to take care of himself. Now he’s sick and has a fever. Can you read this thermometer and see that it says 100 (F)? Can you? If I came home early, he wouldn’t feel weak like this now.”

So in other words, it’s my fault my dad had a fever and went to dinner when he could have been an adult and decided himself he didn’t have to go to dinner. It’s my fault because I didn’t tell my mom sooner, and because my dad needs my mom to mother him endlessly. It’s our responsibility to take care of him because “He cannot take care of himself. Without your father, we would have nothing. Don’t you realize that? Do you not understand?”

And to continue the drama, we scheduled a dim sum lunch near the house with my aunt at noon today. My dad didn’t go because he still claimed to feel weak, though his fever had miraculously disappeared. My mom announced at lunch that my dad had diarrhea and felt weak, and I suggested that maybe he ate something bad. My mom changed the subject.

When I got home, that’s when she voiced her strong dissatisfaction at my saying that. “Yvonne, I want you to know that your father did not eat anything bad,” she said in her usual tone of “don’t fuck with me.” “I never gave him spoiled food. I only give him good food. Everyone at dinner last night was fine and no one got sick, so it’s not the food. He has the flu. Do you understand?”

It just got more ludicrous as the seconds went by, and I was eager to get out of that house as soon as possible and was thankful Chris and I were about to leave.. in a car not driven by my dad. I told her that no one has accused her of giving him spoiled food and that wasn’t what I was saying at all. I was only raising the possibility that he could have eaten something bad because… hello, what is diarrhea usually a sign of? And with contaminated food, a single piece could be bad and that’s all it takes for a person to get sick, so just because no one else got sick doesn’t mean something he ate was not bad; don’t they remember what happened to me in Vietnam? Oh, or was that because as my dad accused me of then, “You have a weak stomach!” as I was running to the bathroom every hour (as I always say, everything is my fault in this house. Everything — especially after Ed passed). “Stop arguing with me!” she raised her voice. The man-child chimes in. “That is NOT what happened here. I have the FLU!”

In less than 24 hours, I was accused of giving my dad a fever, having his weakness exacerbated for “allowing” him to go to dinner and not telling my mother in advance, and then supposedly suggesting my mother tried to give my dad food poisoning.

Silent no more

It’s always fun when you have a relative who is so opposite of your political beliefs that you have to keep quiet about politics every time you are around him. But it will inevitably get to a breaking point when things get a little too personal, and you realize he has crossed a line he shouldn’t have.

With Trump’s ban on refugees and visitors coming in from seven predominantly Muslim countries also comes the required detainment of U.S. Green Card holders and even employees OF the U.S. government in the last few days. U.S. Green Card holders, for those who are unaware, are people who have been interviewed, scrutinized, background-checked so many times that they basically feel dehumanized by the time they are even granted the privilege of attaining their permanent-resident status in the U.S. How do I know this? My husband is a fucking U.S. Green Card holder, and I’ve had to stand in baggage claim waiting for him multiple times as we’ve returned to this country from holidays as he’s had his Green Card and temporary Green Card status (yes, because that comes before you actually get the freaking Green Card) scrutinized, and as he’s been detained and ordered and yelled at to leave the U.S. Customs area to a back office room to be questioned over and over. The abuse of power of Customs Border Control is ridiculous; if you just look at them the wrong way, they could pull you aside and detain you for hours, and you aren’t even allowed to ask why or how. You have no rights. Do what you are told, just like a dog.

So, you can imagine my immediate wrath when my uncle says before family dinner begins tonight that banning or detaining even U.S. Green Card holders is “actually not stupid” and “a good idea.” “Even they (Green Card holders) cannot be trusted,” he said matter-of-factly. That was when I went nuts, raised my voice, and said he was wrong. These people have been checked multiple times and are legitimate residents of this country. Why should they be put under extra scrutiny? Chris is a U.S. Green Card holder. Do you think he poses a danger to this country? “He’s an exception,” my uncle argued. Of course he is. The people you know and like are the exception; everyone else is a potential terrorist. Isn’t that just so convenient? The people who have committed these terrorist attacks are not even from the countries on that list of seven; his firm response? “No, you’re wrong.” That’s everyone’s favorite response. Actually, my cousin and I both countered and said that the terrorists responsible for 9/11 were from countries not on that list – Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia. No response from our uncle. No counter of “you’re wrong” here, huh?

When we create exceptions, when we say things like “Chris is an exception” because we know him and like him, when we say “I’m not homophobic. One of my closest friends is gay,” when we say that we aren’t racist because “some of my best friends are black/Korean/Middle Eastern,” that’s when we know we believe the majority of whatever targeted minority group deserves the oppression they face, and that is unjust and inhumane. When did we, the idiots saying things like this, become morally or ethically superior to these targeted individuals? In my uncle’s case, it is the saddest to me because he is the child of immigrants who worked hard to come to the U.S. to give their children a better life and future than what they had back in China. Sure, their English wasn’t perfect, and yes, they weren’t educated, but they allowed their kids to get educated in the U.S. and have better lives than what they had. Has all that been completely forgotten, or has he taken all that for granted and decided he just wants to abuse his power as someone working for Customs and make the lives of all future immigrants who get in his line at Border Control miserable and bleak? How can you completely forget where you’ve come from and your own roots?

This has been a truly embarrassing week for me to know that I have relatives like this.

Warm bedroom

It’s rare to wake up in my parents’ house and feel warm. Because the house is old and has no insulation, it’s constantly at least 10 degrees below what we consider “room temperature,” if even that. My parents have gotten so used to it that when a room actually is 68 degrees, they think it’s hot. But what has changed over the last year is that my mom has actually felt more and more cold, so they’ve finally been taking advantage of the central heat they installed years ago. I’ve been waking up the last two days feeling warm and cozy, even after I remove my bed covers and expose my arms to the world outside my bed. This felt very unusual and not “normal” for this house.

This momentarily made me angry this morning, though, as I remember Ed used to complain constantly about how cold the house was. Ed’s needs were never taken seriously, so our dad would reject it when Ed would say he wanted to turn the heat on. “Go put on a sweater!” our dad would yell. Then there would be the passive aggressive turn-on, turn-off battle between Ed and my dad. It really was so childish that it was embarrassing to witness. Ed would turn the heat on. Dad would complain and say no heat was needed (mainly because he didn’t want to spend the money on the heat. Isn’t money the main reason to not do most things in life?) and flip the switch off. Ed would go back and turn it on. The battle would ensue for as long as the two of them were home together. Or, occasionally I would insist the heat should be on, as I usually tried to side with Ed, and our dad would begrudgingly leave it on until he felt the house was warm enough, and then switch it off. Unfortunately, that never worked out because this house refuses to retain heat, so the house would just get cold again.

If you cannot be warm and comfortable in your own home, where are you supposed to be comfortable? Or in this case, Ed was never treated like he was a true, worthy part of this house, so his comfort was disregarded and ignored. And now because he’s dead, he’s never coming back to enjoy this warmth that I now have a chance to wake up to here.

Trump’s rise is America’s downfall

In less than a week since his unsightly inauguration, President Dipshit has already caused a stir; he’s really whipped out his balls by issuing all kinds of executive actions, ranging from “extreme vetting” of refugees, a threat to eventually pull Visa Waiver Entry from countries that are currently on friendly terms with the U.S. (that includes Australia… boy, can’t wait for this crap to begin and for these countries to retaliate and make my travel life hell), the revival of the anti-Native American Dakota Access pipeline (and the Keystone XL pipeline); he’s announced that the U.S.-Mexico border wall is the real deal, and that Mexico WILL be paying for it (just… you know, us taxpayers will pay for it first to then get reimbursed later); the “Mexico City Policy” will be reinstated to ban federal funds to international groups that perform abortions or lobby to legalize abortion. I can’t even go through the entire list. My blood pressure has already gone up listing just these!
And because his ego is so easily and quickly damaged, he had his idiot press secretary hold a press conference insisting that his inauguration crowds were, in fact, large, and that the comparisons that were being drawn to Obama’s inaugurations were inaccurate and misrepresenting the extreme popularity of Dipshit. Clearly, he has the priorities of the country in mind when wasting everyone’s time with his deflated ego. And Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto announced that Mexico officially will NOT pay for the stupid wall no matter what, and has also cancelled the meeting he had scheduled with Dipshit. Trump went back and said they mutually agreed to cancel. If anyone thinks that’s the truth, they must believe in “alternative facts” that are quite popular today.

The latest news is that at least six state department officials have resigned from their posts, refusing to work under a Trump administration. I don’t blame them; I’d feel major ethical qualms about my own character if I had to work for someone as openly racist, sexist, xenophobic, and politically inexperienced as this turd. All I feel is embarrassment and anger as a U.S. citizen. It has been a rough start to 2017 when I’ve been trying really hard to be hopeful and keep my head up. This country was supposed to be a nation of immigrants, a country of open-mindedness, freedom, acceptance of new and different ideas and philosophies. Instead, Dipshit is taking this country into the direction of becoming isolationist, xenophobic, and ultimately unwelcoming to people who are not white skinned and light haired. How can any rational American, educated or uneducated, rich or poor, light skinned or dark skinned, be proud to see these news headlines today? I just cannot wrap my head around it and have been in a constant state of “I have no words.”




In the late morning today, I sat in the Intercontinental hotel lounge while working, waiting for my parents to pick me up. My mom was hell bent on taking me to one of her favorite Vietnamese restaurants in the Tenderloin, which I admit is good, but is on the dodgiest street and has questionable sanitation based on the latest San Francisco health violations report. Then, we’d eventually go home to that cold house on the hill in the Richmond which I have so many negative associations with; “home sweet home,” as some would call it.

This is what I am used to now, as my friend marveled yesterday, a life of four- to five-star hotels, travel, and most importantly… freedom; freedom from having every action I do get scrutinized and criticized, freedom from being told that my showers are too long or that I’m using too much toilet paper or that the brownies I made are too sweet and bad for my parents’ health (even when they asked me to make them). Life now is a strong contrast to what it used to be while living under their roof and their senseless, suffocating, and irrational rules. My “normal” now is vastly different from my “normal” as a child growing up in this house.

That’s why it’s always so frustrating and embarrassing every time I come home and get reminded endlessly of all the insipid things that happen in this house: the constant food waste because they both insist on cooking enough food for 6-8 people when it’s just the two of them; the shower head that won’t adjust to pull down because my dad is too cheap to get a removable shower head installed, the kitchen that was technically expanded but never fully finished because he decided to put the project on hold.. for the last seven years; the piles of junk he’s accumulated from ex-tenants who never cleared out their apartments (that he insists on bringing home) and the hoarding from Craigslist; the constant sorting of “compost waste” from paper from plastic as what appears to be a daily hobby, or in my eyes, a complete and stupid waste of time; my parents eating dinner “together” while my father sits at his computer like a child and watches YouTube videos while my mother actually sits at the table eating by herself. Other than the carpet that my mother had installed 17 years ago and some cheap plastic “dressers” in the two bedrooms, this house is almost exactly like what it was when my dad was a teenager; slightly dilapidated, completely free from renovation, and freezing as hell. He never moved out of his parents’ house. This house is pretty much exactly the same as then.

But this is what is “normal” to them. It’s “normal” for them to sit like that at the dinner table. It’s normal to have a peeling kitchen counter when they could afford to have it replaced. It’s normal for them to hoard junk so that beds and chairs are no longer places where you can sit or lie down without clearing everything off them for five minutes.

My version of “normal” was once that, but even as a young child, I knew so many things here were not normal. I know that the “normal” I have in my mind now will never, ever be achievable in this house with them. Ed tried to believe he could somehow get there, and he realized at the end of his life it was impossible. The only way to have a “normal” life is to separate myself from all this as much as possible.

Thank God Chris comes here for work, otherwise I’d have zero buffer and zero normalcy.



I set up time today to meet with a friend at a nearby coffee shop to the hotel where Chris and I are staying at in downtown San Francisco, but after some thought, I realized… why am I asking her to meet me at a crowded coffee shop with terrible acoustics when I could just invite her to the hotel lounge during prime afternoon tea time hour, where she could have access to whatever food and drink she wanted? I called her and asked to meet at the hotel instead, and as soon as she walked into the lounge… I wish I recorded her facial expressions changing. Like me, my friend is very expressive, and she shows all her emotions on her face. I’m sure Chris might have likened it to my face when I first walked into the British Airways International Lounge at JFK airport, when I’d never been into a single airport lounge in my life other than the terrible and bare-bones United lounge in LAX. She was blown away by the food setup, the access to drinks, the massive floor-to-ceiling windows, and the overall decor.

“Is this the life you are used to?” my friend marveled, as she sat down to enjoy her just-made latte and crustless mini egg salad sandwiches. “So la-dee-da, aren’t you? I could get used to being you! Can I just stay here even after you leave?”

We ended up staying in the lounge for about three hours, and Chris was even able to join us and meet this friend for the very first time. Chris made the fancy hotel and lounge seem like no big deal, like this was what he was used to given his hectic work travel schedule, and my friend marveled even more. She was not used to this type of travel. And for the longest time, neither was I.

As I thought more about it as we sat down together for that time, I started feeling like somewhat of a disappointment, like a Stepford bride who relies on her husband for all the money and luxuries and pleasures she enjoyed. I don’t get this type of experience or treatment on my own or through my own work; I get these privileges because of the work and accomplishments of my husband. And what’s worse is that he’s had it way harder than me as someone who isn’t even a U.S. citizen and had to prove himself as a foreigner; I’m natively born here and I’m nowhere as accomplished as he is. He’s set in his career and enjoys every minute of it; I’m still wandering around, figuring out what the hell I’m really supposed to be doing and what my purpose is.

These are the first world conflicts of someone who is privileged, or “la dee da” as my friend said.


First of many fights

Every time I come home, I can always anticipate at least one fight for every three days I am here with my mom. They are usually about stupid, inane things that she gets upset about, and here was today’s.

I’m working in downtown today, and Chris picked a restaurant for us to eat at tonight with my parents and aunt. I can’t get through the land line to my parents, and the cell phone is shut off (because they love to keep it off), so I called my aunt to tell her the restaurant address and time to meet, and asked her to tell my parents all this information. She agreed and we hung up.

I called my mom just now, and she’s obviously angry and speaking in an icy tone. “Why didn’t you just leave a message? Why did you have to tell your aunt that we didn’t answer and that you couldn’t get a hold of us and get her all in our personal business? You’re causing all kinds of trouble. All I want is peace. Don’t you realize I’m in pain? I’m in pain!”

She’s always in pain. That’s her excuse for everything.

I never realized that asking my aunt to give my parents a simple message would cause so much anger and resentment in my mom. She yelled and said she only invited my aunt to dinner tonight because my aunt offered to take the whole family out to eat this Saturday. Yep, that’s typical my-mom behavior for you; she feels guilty when someone else does something nice for her or me, so right away (literally, RIGHT AWAY) she has to do something to “pay back” that person. Otherwise, she says she has a “guilty conscience.” That makes a lot of sense. It’s the most unhealthy mindset when someone does something nice for you. Then again, she gets mad about everything, so this just adds to the list.

Evolution of the mind

When you have been friends with your friends for over two decades, it’s easy either to note the evolution in their characters and beliefs…. or not. Sometimes, we turn a blind eye to our friends’ changes because we want to see them how we always saw them — as the great people we originally loved and became attached to. But for me, I think what’s been a very strange change is seeing one of my closest friends, who I’ve always considered a deep thinker who has shared her feelings, stop doing that and stop probing to find out more about why I think the way I think. Before in high school, she used to always challenge my behavior or voiced opinions. She always cared about the family drama I had to deal with at home. She always seemed to want to understand. Now, she seems to zone out when our third friends asks questions to find out more about anything about me that may be sensitive or personal. It’s like a lesser desired level of understanding. Or maybe she just wants to remove herself from understanding because it takes too much effort, is too tiring because a lot of the facts are negative, or just wants to have more superficial relationships now. I’ll never quite get it.