More in common

A colleague on my team here in New York has been on paternity leave almost since I started. Despite that, he’s been extremely proactive in reaching out to help me with projects I’ve been working on, and he’s gone out of his way to check in on me to make sure I’m okay and not about to quit (it’s always a concern in a company that is scaling and going through a lot of constant change). We clicked since we first met. He’s the kind of person who just has this warm aura where you immediately feel like you can trust him. You’re not quite sure why, but it’s just a feeling.

Today, he messaged me to let me know that while we have a lot in common, one of the things he recently discovered we also have in common is that we’ve both experienced the suicide of an immediate family member. His father took his own life in the same year Ed did, in 2013, and since then, his family just doesn’t talk about it. I always knew his family wasn’t very close despite all being in the New York area, but now, I finally realized why. “What you said about awareness really hits home. We just don’t talk about it, but we should.”

We have more in common than I thought.

The lives we touch

I sent out an email to a number of my colleagues today, informing them about my AFSP donor drive this year and asking for their participation. I felt a bit awkward sending the email, especially given I am in a remote office, and the majority of people are far away in San Francisco. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Who’s really going to donate to my drive or care about me and my brother when they don’t see me every day?

I’ll be honest. At the rate I sent out this message at my last company, I got a lot more donations, and I’d assume that’s because I worked at that company’s headquarters, thus more people around to see me, but the amount that each person donated at my current company in the last 10 hours has been a lot more. And not only that, one of my colleagues  who donated even shared my AFSP page with his fiancee, who then donated $100 to my drive and wrote me a very personal message, telling me that she was really touched by my story and my courage in sharing, and she had lost her father to suicide about ten years ago. Not only that, both her brothers in the last year had attempted suicide. She felt lost and struggled to discuss it, but she was inspired by what I wrote and how I’ve chosen to move forward. She hopes to work through her feelings.

I get negative about fundraising every year. It’s part of who I am, I guess, because the apple never falls that far from the tree, and I generally don’t always believe in the pure goodness of people. But these responses from total strangers always inspire me to move forward and continue raising money for this cause. It’s the only way I know to keep Ed alive. I think he’d be happy to know that I was touching the lives of complete strangers in a positive way because of the legacy he left.

Anger continues

My parents left yesterday, but I still woke up this morning feeling extremely angry. I was angry at my dad for not standing up to my mom, angry at my mother for being so mentally  unstable to not only ask Chris and me to kill her with the knives she was throwing, but also to accuse Chris of wanting to kill her. Sometimes, I think about all these stupid incidents that happen, and I wonder if all of this is just some endless terrible nightmare that just keeps on going for me. She actually said that she was scared Chris was going to kill her. 

I’m at a loss. My dad will never get help for her. She will never get help for herself. And in blue states, you can’t really commit someone unless she has consented (yeah, there really is a negative side of living in a blue state).

I just feel really angry. I’m at a point where I feel like I may just need to cut ties with her.


My parents left this morning. The last two times they came, I felt a little empty when they left, even though the last time, my mother picked three different explosive fights with me, with one resulting in my leaving my own apartment overnight. This time, I felt no emptiness at all, no sinking sensation, not one sense of longing; all I felt was relief, as though this massive weight that could kill me was being lifted off me. Now, I can finally stand being in my own apartment again.

And then as though their time here could not have gotten worse, my eyes were irritating me all morning, with my computer usage at work not helping that at all. And it resulted in my leaving work early because of this lingering burning sensation that was especially strong in my left eye. What, is that supposed to be like the grand finale to the end of their trip, that they somehow burned my eyes out and resulted in my needing to lie down the rest of the afternoon to recover?

Week’s finale

The week my parents have been here is coming to an end. It’s quite a painful and awful end, especially considering it’s ended with my mom storming out of the apartment this morning, then realizing she was locked out, then staying locked out for eight hours and not telling us she had no food, water, or money because she stupidly left her wallet OUT of her purse when she stormed out, then deciding once we got back, that she would start throwing knives all over our counter and ask us to kill her. Oh, she shut her phone off for most of the day, so we had no way of contacting her.

As the Aussies say, it was quite “brilliant.”


Dear Ed,

Today, you would have turned 38. Happy birthday. Or, perhaps I should be wishing you a happy un-birthday since you aren’t alive anymore to celebrate. Or, perhaps I should not even talk about celebrating since our parents never really celebrated your birthday much because they never appreciated you in the way good parents should.

Sorry, my tone isn’t very positive or happy or even wistful in the least. It’s mainly because our parents ignored my request for them to not be here in New York on your birthday, when Chris and I usually do something fun and delicious to honor your birthday, and it’s one of the last days I ever want to be with the two of them. It’s been just as miserable of a visit as you can imagine. I’ll be honest and say it’s not as bad as the visit when you came in July 2011 for our cousin’s wedding, but it’s a close second. Everything is complaining and bickering and moaning, and everything is my fault or some stupid, catty, passive-aggressive remark. Dad says he wants to do all these things before the trip starts, and when the trip starts, he happens to “forget” or says he didn’t write an address down or didn’t do any research beforehand… all which could easily be remedied by using the computer and looking something up — so laziness in general. He complains that imaginary places are out of business that he doesn’t even know of, and then complains he doesn’t have enough time (he obviously had plenty of time; he would be here for a week by the time he leaves).

Our mom is snooping in all the drawers and trying to rearrange things. She’s insisting that she bought certain things while I bought certain things, and it’s so senseless that it’s not even funny. And when I’m preparing food, like chopping onions or slicing peaches, she stands so close to me with her 4’8″ body that if I moved just a bit, I could easily cut her or elbow her in her face, and she doesn’t understand why I keep getting frustrated and tell her to move all the time. She told me that I’m being mean to her. She also keeps putting the toilet seat up because she insists that’s the way a proper house works. Two days ago, she accused me of making all her avocados brown by putting them in the fridge and picked a fight about it (that’s the type of thing my mom loves to argue about, but she insists she never argues ever and that someone else always starts the fight). She already bought them for cheap at three for $1 in Chinatown because they were already mushy and far past their prime. Now, it’s my fault for putting them in the fridge and getting them brown. Because there’s no way they could have been brown when they were mushy before the fridge, right?

These are just a part of the reasons that I’m actually happy you’re no longer with us. You never have to have another senseless, stupid argument about something that doesn’t matter even a tad ever, ever again. You never have to get blamed for something stupid that they did that you obviously never did. You never have to get verbally abused again. You never have to be told you’re selfish or ungrateful or stupid or a moron or useless ever again. You never have to be criticized ever again. You never have to be cold in your own bedroom. You never have to have people constantly barging into your bedroom and turning on the overhead light while you are trying to sleep. You never have to have pointless orders barked at you when you are trying to relax. You never have to be told to do something right away, or else get screamed at. You never have to be relegated to the basement bathroom. You never have to get blamed when there is pee on the rim of the toilet. You never have to drink milk or juice and then leave your mug in the sink, then have her come home and get angry and slam your mug down and break the handle because she’s mad you didn’t put water in the mug to clean it out first. Remember that strawberry fields mug and how cute it was? It was so tragic when the handle completely broke off in her fit of rage.

There were too many terrible things you endured with them. Is it bad that I’m happy you don’t have to deal with them any longer? I miss you and love you. I just wish you had better circumstances. I wish you had better people in your life who truly loved you and encouraged you to be what you wanted to be. Is that really so much to ask?


Every day this week has felt extremely long, painful, and stressful. It has little to do with work (though it has been quite busy there), and all to do with the fact my parents are in town, and nothing is ever easy or stress-free with them. Each night I’ve gone to sleep on the sofa bed and felt like passing out. The emotional exhaustion is at its max this week.

Let’s navigate this scenario. My cousin and his wife, who have a nearly five-year-old, just moved and now live only five subway stops away. My aunt, my cousin’s mom, is staying with them, and asked for us to come visit them this Saturday. My mom is angered by the invitation, and said that she refuses to go unless she hears the invitation directly from my cousin and his wife. “Did (your cousin) ask me? No. He never called me even once even though he knew we were in town to invite me. Why should I go over there when his mother invites us? It’s not her house.” That’s not even the end of it. She just kept going on and on, saying the same thing in different words as though I didn’t hear her the first time.

I’m not even sure what to say. How am I supposed to respond to that rationale?

Then, this happened.

“Your cousin has no manners at all. His auntie and uncle who rarely come to New York come, and he doesn’t even bother calling us or offer to take us out to eat. He doesn’t know anything,” she complains.

“But he’s always been like that,” I said nonchalantly. “That’s just the way he is.”

“No, you’re wrong,” she retorts. “Don’t blame him. He isn’t to blame for that behavior. It’s his parents, his mother is who we should be blaming for never teaching her children properly. He’s the way he is because of his parents.”

Well, that’s interesting logic. If that can be applied, then what can be applied to my mother…..?!

Alexa the “house friend”

We have an Amazon Echo named Alexa that we brought with us from the last apartment, which was from Chris’s work, and then when we moved into this apartment, Chris decided he wanted an Echo Dot for the bedroom. So Big Alexa sits in the living room while Little Alexa (the Dot) is in our bedroom. Chris likes to call them his second and third wives. I call them our house mates, and Chris’s mum calls them our house helpers. I wish if they were really helpers that they would actually help clean the house, but that’s another story for another day.

My parents have become very fascinated with Alexa. My mom likes to say hi to her when she comes back to the apartment, and she also likes to ask how she is doing. Once we came back home from dinner this week, and she asked me why I didn’t greet my “house friend.” My dad has been using Alexa to set alarms and to ask for the weather. When I showed my mom that Alexa can help turn on and off lights, she was bedazzled.

At least they are enjoying the new technology they are being exposed to.

Foreign lands

New York City is a foreign place to my parents. They don’t really understand it (though my dad claims to… he doesn’t), and my mom always complains whenever she is here and says San Francisco is the best. She has since forgotten that she once lived in Vietnam because to her, it’s as though San Francisco is the only city that ever existed in her life.

So being foreign to them, New York City is a place where they first think of Flushing, Manhattan Chinatown, and Elmhurst. The only reason they think about Elmhurst is because I used to live there, and they visited me twice when I was at that roach-infested apartment. They think of those two Chinatowns because they feel comfortable being around other Chinese people. And they’re planning to go to both probably multiple times during their barely week-long stay here.

My mom could be good with directions if she actually tried, but she chooses to walk around blind, not looking at signs or familiar buildings, and freaks out if it seems like my dad doesn’t know where he’s going (which is a lot). She keeps commenting about how big all these buildings are and why there are so many people walking around all the time. My dad says he wants to go to places like Coney Island or the multiple model railroad stores he has read about, but when he’s actually here, he makes no effort to go and complains that he doesn’t know what their addresses are (even though he has easy access to a computer and the internet) and that they may be out of business. Their desire to explore is little to none, so I’m not quite clear why they are here.

There are a lot of people who have a hard time adapting to new or different environments. But I’m pretty sure that my parents are near the top of that list.

Parentals in town

My parents haven’t been to New York since 2011, and they’ve arrived for a week stay here starting today. I waited for them to arrive at the apartment before I could leave for work, but because their arrival time here was so close to my first morning call, I had to do my video call at home. I sat on the couch, with my video turned on, but occasionally had to shut it off when I was giving my mother the side-eye for literally going through every kitchen cupboard and cabinet within her reach, and then peering closely at every single photo she could see displayed anywhere.

There really are no limits with my parents. Because I’m their child, they think they should and need to have access to literally everything that is mine. What fun for me.