Tonight, we went out to Jersey to see Trevor Noah perform live at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. It was a bleak, rainy, and windy day, so although Chris arrived pretty much soaking (I had my trusty long rain coat, rain boots, and umbrella), we both enjoyed the show a lot.

It’s hard not to enjoy a comedy show when the comedian is coming from South Africa to the U.S. and has a completely different perspective on everything from government to racism to “what is considered a normal experience.” He joked about the time when he first moved to the U.S., specifically to Los Angeles, and his roommate, who is American, asked him if he wanted to go out to get tacos. Trevor had no idea what tacos were, and his roommate was in shock, so much in shock that he repeatedly kept asking him, “You’ve never had a taco? You seriously have never, ever had a taco?” No, dude, he hadn’t. “You seriously cannot understand when other people have had a different life experience than you?” Trevor asked us, half serious and half joking. I get what he means, though, and I think we’re all at least a little guilty of that.

Another point he made during the show that resonated with me was when he expressed frustration at how people on the right like to say, “I don’t see color,” when it comes to different people’s skin color and ethnicity. I always wanted to grind my teeth when I’d see or hear that in the news by people on Fox News or young blonde conservatives like Tomi Lahren. “So, you don’t see colors when you reach the traffic light?” he responded. But the main point really was this: “There’s nothing wrong with seeing color. It’s about how you treat color.”

Well, there it is.

A gold-flecked evening

Tonight, we had dinner with one of Chris’s friends, who is also his colleague and someone who attended our wedding. On average in the last three years, although the two of them get along very well, I’ve only seen him three times, so on average once every year. Last year, it was at our wedding! So I was excited to see him again and be exposed to his more pronounced Australian accent (I guess everyone’s Australian accent is more pronounced than Chris’s at this point…), as well as to his many opinions and recent life developments.

Chris’s friend has a lot in common with Chris; both are Australian who have relocated to the U.S. for work; both are extremely ambitious and confident, have intense work travel schedules that take them both all over the world, and have a huge passion for technology; both are also extremely opinionated, political, and charismatic; they both love a heated (but intellectually stimulating) debate. It doesn’t happen very often, but very occasionally in life you meet those people who, when they engage with you, they make constant eye contact with you and draw you into their conversation seamlessly, and make it feel as though you’re the most important person in the room. This friend is one of those people. He’s like Barack Obama in that way based on what I’ve read about how engaging our former and missed president is.

We had dinner at a cozy restaurant in West Village, followed by a very long night cap at a nearby watering hole that served $16 cocktails flecked with gold, leaving real gold flakes on all our lips by the end of the night. Chris’s friend brought a female friend along, and the four of us talked about everything from cooking to travel to politics to more politics to a relationship breaking down to theater and even dogs. Topics were on everything from “how do we define ‘snobby’ when we are discussing food?” to “what does it actually mean to be ‘racist’?” to “am I really being an asshole by doing X action?” What always gets me excited when I am around people like this friend is that he never shies away from the controversial or the offensive; again, he’s like Chris in that way. Except when he and Chris are in the same room, they will battle it out, and it’s so stimulating for me to watch the debate and occasionally interject and see others, like our new friend at the table, participate, as well. I rarely get these meals where extremely smart and opinionated people put their personal feelings aside and debate for the sake of pushing intellectual curiosity and thoughtfulness and don’t feel like they’re going to make the other side cry or even cry themselves. These conversations are really important to have. It helps with understanding better those we care about, and it allows us an opportunity to explore others’ opinions, which in most of these cases, are really just extensions or stretches of what we already think (because frankly, none of us here are conservative or rooting for the end of women’s birth control or right to choose, or for the breakdown of Meals on Wheels, and none of us believe that “color” doesn’t exist). It did get to a point in the night where our new friend said she had to take a break from even listening to the debate because “sometimes some nights, you just want to go out and have fun and enjoy yourself, and not discuss politics or question whether we’re really all racist bitches!”  It’s a fair point, but it’s sad when there’s zero nights when you and your friends can have that opportunity to debate and be provocative and push buttons. If you never expose your vulnerable side, you will never truly know another person. And in turn s/he will never know you.

It was a rich and fulfilling evening.

Ronny Chieng

After his performance last night, Ronny stuck around and greeted guests to thank them for coming. The venue was quite small, so it was easy to approach him and chat for a bit. I’m always so surprised when I find that people who perform for a living in front of crowds of hundreds or thousands of people are shy in real life. They’re happy to have millions of eyeballs watch and critique their every word, but when one-on-one time comes, they almost clam up. That’s kind of how Ronny was. I got behind another couple to say hi to him while Chris was paying the tab, and he seemed almost embarrassed that I wanted to talk him to him beyond just saying thank you. The more questions I asked and the more I wanted to engage with him on everything from his time in Australia to Malaysian food outside of Malaysia and Singapore, he seemed more and more awkward. It was kind of cute. There’s no way I’d ever be able to do what he does for a living; it’s even more exciting that he’s an Asian comedian in a white/black dominated comedy world.

White privilege

Tonight, we went to see Ronny Chieng, one of the Daily Show correspondents, perform some test material, and his opening act was Adam Lowitt, who is also a Daily Show contributor (I think his official title is “Senior Jewish Correspondent”). If anyone has any doubt that “white privilege” exists and is real, they should have heard what he had to say tonight.

He talked about how he and his wife were driving with their infant baby in the backseat in Jersey, and he was speeding because that’s just what he does. A police siren goes off, and he realizes it’s for him. So he pulls over, and the police officer approaches and starts speaking in a loud voice. Without even realizing why this would be a bad idea, Adam immediately says “Shhhhhh!! (looks to the back of the car) The baby is sleeping.” And not only does the police officer lower his voice in response, he lets Adam and his wife go simply on a warning.

Adam admitted it. He said he took advantage of his white privilege then by speaking in such an irreverent way to a police officer without even thinking. If he were a person of color, he never would have done that, and if he did, he probably would not have been treated as well as he was.

If that were Chris driving, or if that were a black or another brown person who tried to “shhhhh” a police officer, what do you think would have happened? I don’t think any person of color would even dream of “shhhh”ing a police officer. In fact, Chris and I have gotten pulled over twice, once for speeding and another time because Chris forgot to turn his headlights on at night. The police officer who pulled us over for the lack of headlights was angrier than angry that Chris didn’t immediately pull over (Chris said he got confused and wasn’t sure it was for him), and then got even more mad when Chris answered one of his questions the wrong way. I always look back on those moments and think, would that police officer have responded the same way if Chris were white?

Whirligig buns

I started my chocolate and pistachio whirligig buns on Friday by making the yeast dough, kneading it, and allowing it to rise twice, both times in the fridge to make sure I could freshly bake them on Sunday morning for our brunch at home with friends. They rose twice and puffed and browned in the oven; everything seemed like it was going swell. Then the strangest thing happened to them, though; my friend took a bite and asked if there was any alcohol in the buns. I said no and thought that was strange. I then took a bite of mine and realized that the alcoholic taste was really there; neither of us was imagining it. And then I got worried. What did I do wrong?

So me being the anal person I am, I went to look online and found out that oddly enough, the yeast may have turned “cannibalistic.” This basically means that if left in a place that is too warm (the heating in our apartment has been really high in the last few weeks!), if the yeast runs out of sugar in the dough to “eat,” the yeast will then start eating itself, producing the byproduct of an alcoholic taste in the bread. I was not happy about this; I had no idea that this could even happen!

And the day after, as homemade bread tends to be in this apartment the day after I make it, the bread has become a bit stale. This also is strange to me because I made bread many times at my parents’ home, and also at my Elmhurst apartment, and the bread never got this stale until about three days later. I’m not adding or subtracting anything from the bread that I used to use. I’ve never added any preservatives. This apartment just has so many odd quirks to it. I’m going to blame the apartment for this one.

How Not to Die

This week, I’m wrapping up reading my latest book How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease written by a doctor named Michael Gregor, who also leads a non-profit site called NutritionFacts.org. Reading this book has frankly made me even more angry about medicine in today’s world (or maybe just this country). In the book’s introduction, Dr. Gregor notes that he was inspired to go into medicine because of a truly life-changing turnaround he saw his grandmother go through. When she was just 65, she had a bypass surgery and was told that she probably had days or months at most to live. She entered into a pilot program (in a wheelchair) that required a plant-based diet and daily exercise. After about a month there, she walked out on her own two feet. And on her new plant-based diet and exercise regimen that she continued, his grandmother lived for another 31 years and was even able to see her grandson graduate from medical school.

Once he was of age and met all the requirements, Dr. Gregor applied and was accepted into 21 different medical schools. Much to his disgust, all medical schools in this country spend less than 1 percent of their curriculum on diet and nutrition. He eventually chose to matriculate at Tufts’ medical school, which at the time had the highest number of hours devoted to nutrition focus. He even interviewed at Cornell’s medical school, where one of the interviewers flat out said that there was zero connection between one’s nutrition and one’s health outcomes. Is this what our medical schools are filled with — people who really believe this? No wonder I think medicine in this country is crap.

If there’s one thing I’ve really followed that my dad taught me when I was young, it’s that I really hate taking medication unless I absolutely need it. “Your body is a lot stronger than you think it is,” my dad used to say. But what is “absolute” need, really? I suppose whooping cough is “absolute” need. Then what about high blood pressure? Do we really need high blood pressure medication? A study that Dr. Gregor notes in his book illuminated the fact that by taking two cups of strongly brewed hibiscus tea every day that on average you can actually see the same results as taking the leading HBP medication on the market. What would you rather take — tasty (but sour) hibiscus tea or pills every day?

I always read books like this with a grain of salt; even if I could live longer and healthier on a plant-based diet and eliminate all dairy and meat products, I know I’d be missing out on things I love in life, which I don’t want. But he offers a lot of insight into how USDA food recommendations are marred by food industry money and lobbyists, the benefits of pure grains, fruits, and vegetables that pharmaceutical companies have nothing to gain from if you ate them more, but you’d have lots to gain from a health perspective. He also discusses the science behind all of these things and evidence-based medicine (which I recently learned from a medicine-focused Freakonomics podcast is still not fully embraced by our medical community, surprise surprise; my friend, who is in her second year of doing her residency program now, confirmed this to me in her medical schooling). I realize we live in a factless world now with Dipshit as president, but how can you not embrace evidence-based nutrition and medicine?

One year anniversary

It’s been a year since our wedding day today. It feels like ages ago, but at the same time, it also feels quite recent. So much has happened since that day that it’s crazy to think that 365 days have passed since that sunny day standing on an ocean bluff at the top of a tiny seaside town called San Clemente.

Chris is still annoying me in 2017 as much as he annoyed me in 2016, so not much has changed. To justify how annoying he can be, he recently sent me on article about how annoyance is a sign of a good relationship. The rationale behind this is that if your partner is still eliciting emotions out of you, that’s a positive sign. I suppose that’s one way to look at it. He’s no less annoying today than he was on March 25, 2016. 🙂 He did make fun of me less that day, though.

And as time goes by, we’ll get more questions like, “Will you be in New York for much longer?”, “Where will you be settling?”, and the inevitable and already many times asked “When do you think you will have kids?” I don’t have answers to any of that now; neither of us do. But I’m sure when we figure it out, we’ll let you know. Can’t we just enjoy life and stop checking things off our life “to-do” list?

The passing of time isn’t so bad after all. We’ll continue to get new shadows and wrinkles on our faces. We’ll have our cholesterol and blood pressure checked and compare them routinely. We’re going to get old and start shrinking together. These are all happy thoughts.


We’re all biased. We all have our self interests, the things that make us feel self-righteous. We all judge regardless of what we say. But what always throws me off is when people are so marred by their own biases and disgust for humankind that they cannot see the positives in the world.

We were at drinks late tonight with two of our friends, and one of them goes off politically about welfare like unemployment insurance, educational funds for army veterans, and Medicare. Basically, the gist is that he is implying we’re all naive to think that these are truly “benefits.” “Do you really think that the government provides all of these things to us to really ‘benefit’ us? They do it because people protested and revolted and demanded this stuff, otherwise they’d burn everything down and kill others!”

Well, no one said that people never protested to demand their rights. Hello, Civil Rights Movement and women in the late 1800s and early 1900s demanding their right to vote, which was denied to them merely because of their vaginas. After visiting the Civil Rights National Museum twice, I realized that JFK probably gets far more credit for being supportive of civil rights and black people in general than what he really deserves; it was purely political, unlike what they taught us in school. JFK was never going to participate in any “Black Lives Matter” type protest for sure. But at the end of the day, the origin or the reason for these laws or benefits is irrelevant to what positive benefits they provided to people then and now. Was my friend going to reject or deny taking his unemployment insurance when he was between jobs, or was my mother, who looks at the world just like he does and thinks “the government doesn’t give a damn about anyone,” NOT going to take advantage of Medicare and her monthly social security payments? Of course not.

It’s always fun to see people enjoy their “welfare” benefits but complain that the government “doesn’t give a shit” about anyone. Maybe they don’t really care about you, but you still get things from them. Don’t be the person who blindly and happily takes but doesn’t want to give a single thing in return, even if what you are “giving” is merely a little credit or one kind word.


I had a random Lady Gaga station going at the gym this morning, and suddenly her song “Speechless” came on. Ever since I can’t remember, I don’t pay as much attention to lyrics as I used to. But when this song came on, partly because of the way she was singing, I started listening, and even though I was running on my treadmill, I could feel my eyes tearing up as I listened to the words she sang. On the surface, this song seems like a sad love ballad, the kind where you know the relationship is doomed and at least one side of the couple is just in denial. But this song seemed more complex. The more I thought about it, this song isn’t about that type of love at all. It’s about something else. She belts out in the beginning:

Could we fix you if you broke?
And is your punch line just a joke?

I looked up the song afterwards. She said it was her favorite song on her Fame Monster album of 2009, and it was actually written about her father’s refusal to have a life-saving open heart surgery. He said instead of getting the surgery, he just wanted to live his life. Her mother was terrified, as she was. But she felt hopeless, as she was on tour at the time and had no way to be there with him physically. So she wrote this song as a plea to him to get the surgery. Her dad would call her every now and then after having a number of drinks, and she would sit there on the other end, completely speechless, having no idea how to respond to him. She was terrified she was going to lose him, and she would not be there with him when it happened. He eventually had the surgery. Every time she performs this song live, she gets emotional thinking about how she could have lost him if he hadn’t made that decision.

That’s how I used to feel about Ed when we’d talk on the phone. I tried to encourage him, tried to say everything and anything to help him keep going. There were so many moments I was speechless and could barely say anything. Nothing I was going to say felt like it would help. Other times, I rambled on and on in the calmest tone possible to get him to see that I cared and worried about him. But at those points, I don’t think he could hear or understand my feelings anymore. Everything got blocked out for him.

I couldn’t fix him when he broke.

Whole new world

In yesterday’s world, we applied to hundreds of jobs (or at least, I did), and if we were lucky, we’d hear back from maybe 10-20 of them. Companies would make you wait and squirm during interviews, asking you one question after another in an attempt to stump you or make you feel stupid. Then, after whatever phone or in-person interview, the worst of the worst ones wouldn’t even get back to you to let you know they turned you down until two to three months later. Those days really sucked.

Today, there’s LinkedIn for recruiters, internal and external, to reach out to you to ask you if you want to work for them. Recruiters are incentivized to find the best talent for their companies, and many will stop at nothing. I had one person I met say that a recruiter reached out three times, acknowledging all the previous outreach, until he finally responded to her and took her up on the interview request. I’ve had internal recruiters at some of the most prestigious technology companies in the world keep me in their back pocket in the event that a relevant opening comes up that might be to my liking.

And what really shocked me today was when I went in for an interview just past a normal lunch hour, and the interviewer offered to buy me lunch. You want to buy me lunch? Really? Can we be friends now? You’re kind of amazing even for just offering. Thanks so much, but I ate before coming. What a sweetie.

And then later tonight, to set up another interview with another company, they offered to provide a ride to and from their office because “we want you to arrive to your interview stress free!”

I told my friend this, and he responded, “Who is this — Exxon or Goldman Sachs?”

Neither, dude. Neither.