I live in the Hood.


Most of the time, Terry takes Marlow on the evening walk on his own.  Usually I’m either too sleepy or I don’t feel like giving the neighborhood mosquitoes a meat buffet on my body.

Two nights ago, I decided to go with Terry when we heard a car speeding down our street.  This wasn’t out of the norm because tons of people like to go fast in this 25 mph zone.  But then we started to hear a couple out of control skids and then BOOM!  Twenty feet in front of us, the car drives straight into a parked landscaping truck at about 50-60 mph.  A couple seconds later, two guys got out and started jogging away (Terry said they were limp-jogging).  Then a couple seconds after that, the driver gets out and starts running away.  My first thought was “GREAT!  They’re not hurt enough to go jog for help!  I wonder which condo they will knock on.”

But in reality, they were RUNNING AWAY FROM THEIR STOLEN VEHICLE!  Mutha futhers.  I could have become a hero if only I had run after them and knocked them unconscious with my Maglite.  And don’t give me the “they could have had weapons” talk because the car was smashed in all the way up to the windshield so they had to be dazed.  Terry and I were the only ones to witness the entire thing but the cops said we don’t qualify as witnesses unless we can identify the driver in a line-up and it was way too dark for that.

What were we thinking when all that happened?
Terry thought the people in the car were dead.
I thought we were going to die when the screeching was approaching us.

The next afternoon I took Marlow on the same walk and when I got to that area, I started to feel anxious like I had PTSD.  I’m sure I’ll get over the feeling of dying but it’s really a strange phenomena.  I can’t explain it.  You constantly think of “if only” scenarios and what could have happened if other elements were into play (ex. if we didn’t let Marlow stop as much then we’d be closer).

Okay, so we don’t live in the hood.  It’s actually a pretty nice area with minimal crime minus the occasional illegal dumping, leftover shopping carts, and mugging (this happened once).   But things like hit and runs sort of spill over from other, more hood-ish parts of the city.  The thought of living in a cookie cutter place such as my college city of Irvine creeps me out but then when stuff like hit and runs happen, I get equally creeped out.  Where can I live then?

You Need this Bag!

A good friend of ours has recently launched a Kickstarter for his new work/gym duffel pack. I got a chance to see it in person and it’s pretty neat!  Well made, functional, sleek.  It’s a bit too big for me but it’ll be handy for Terry when he goes to the gym after work.  I always see people carry multiple bags and I just think about what it must be like balancing two bags and your body on BART while being crammed like sardines.  I used to only have one bag while commuting and I already felt like fainting from everyone’s after work B.O.


This is my favorite feature so far: the separate shoe compartment.  Aren’t you tired of using grocery bags to stuff the misshapen shoes in with everything else?!


Me: Terry, can you model the bag?
Terry: Okay.


Check it out–there are 19 days left and they’re so close to reaching their goal already.  My hope is for a yoga bag next!

Someone Returned My Bottle (But Not the Juice)

It only took about 1.5 days for my bottle to be returned and I was actually surprised to see it at all. I went into the breakroom at around 1:30pm to heat up part 2 of my lunch (yes, my lunch has parts) and saw the bottle sitting on top of the flyer on the counter.  The juice was not in it and the bottle had been washed.

In return for my bottle, I put the reward as promised: one pack of sausage.


I’m going to let this one slide because of many possible reasons:

1. Someone could have had really low blood sugar and was on the brink of dying (I imagine that person doing a slow crawl on the floor towards the fridge in a last attempt to save his/her life)
2. Someone went to the exact ziplining company in Maui and mistook my bottle for theirs
3. Someone is blind and thought my juice was one that he/she had made (I did use a pretty generic recipe)

Now I just have to figure out how to sanitize this sucker.

Terry:  heh, lannisters always pay their debt
me:  what u calling me

Someone Stole My Juice

Can you believe someone at work had the nerve to steal my bottle with my precious juice inside?  Like stealing liquid gold.  I put this sign up on the fridge but with my coworker’s cube (he’s out on vacation) so that people cannot trace it directly back to me.

missing bottle

My outrage is perfectly captured by Ross:

China Aunty is Back

I can’t believe it has been two years since I first met and last blogged about my dad’s friends from Guangzhou.  This time around, it’s just the wife who is back and I knew there would be two pressing matters on her mind:

1. Why did you move out of your dad’s house?

2. When are you getting pregnant? 

Of course my responses were lies because you can’t tell the truth to Asians and especially if you cannot fully explain the truth in their native tongue.

My responses?

1. Because it’s closer to work

2. Sometime 

The sweet thing is that she brought me a bunch of clothes and peanuts (symbolizes fertility) which no one has done for me since before my mom was sick (10 years ago).  The not so sweet thing is that they’re totally not my style, except for maybe #1.  For some reason, clothes from China smell like… China.  Our room smelled so much like moth balls only after a couple hours that I had to excavate the clothes from there and light a candle.  I thought I’d do a fashion show for you guys.  Apologies for the poor lighting and green background; our wall colors are straight up ugly.

IMG_20140710_213450 IMG_20140710_213821 IMG_20140710_213941 IMG_20140710_214101 IMG_20140710_214235

Before you say “that polka shirt is not bad!”, please note that they are little cat heads.


To show my appreciation, I will wear one of the items when I see her next.  Which one should it be?

Dad Update

Dad had a routine 3-month MRI last Monday and it still looks cancer free. There are some side effects due to the surgery/chemo/radiation that show up on the scan but otherwise, no cancer. The oncologist reiterated to me again that my dad is beating a huge statistic. They predicted he would only live 1 year (true for over 90% of people in his situation) and it has been 2 years and 1 month.

I should be feeling incredibly grateful but this has been a hard week since my mom’s 5 year death anniversary was on Wednesday. No one said anything. My dad and brother didn’t mention anything (although I’m sure my brother remembered). My friends have forgotten and Terry doesn’t keep track of dates (dates are not his forte even though he tries to support me in any way possible). Dealing with a death becomes very much a process on your own. When my mom first passed away, tons of people flocked to my side. But something a friend told me has stuck with me throughout the years–it gets harder after a couple months, even years, when no one remembers what you’ve gone through. That is so true. I’m not going to hold people accountable to remembering when my mom passed away because everyone has their own crap to deal with. But I’ll just say that every holiday and milestone is difficult.

Ever since my last post about brain cancer and a comment I received: “It is unlike any other disease. To me, it is comparable to having dementia and cancer at the same time.” This has been more true lately as my dad has done a complete 180 from his I-don’t-need-you attitude. He has called me multiple times for help, he has given/cooked me food, and he looks extremely excited to see us. I wonder if he has just simply forgotten all that has happened in the past year. When I asked him why he’s asking us for help, he denied ever saying those hurtful things to us in the past and that we must have misunderstood. I am now realizing that it is easier for me to attribute his behavior to dementia than to psychoanalyze the meaning behind every action.  It’s so weird to grow up with a parent who is a certain way only to have an almost completely different parent later on.  But I guess they say the same thing about spouses?

What Kids Text About Now

So last night my phone was BLOWING UP.  I thought perhaps people were texting me a belated Happy 30.5 Birthday but that wasn’t the case.  A week and a half ago, Terry’s 10 year old niece, Hailey, sends this mass text to a group of people.  It basically says how if you died, the sender would enact some revenge, go to jail, we ride or die, send this to everyone in the universe, if you get it back you are loved, at 12:00 (noon or midnight not specified) the person you love will suddenly love you, if you don’t send it you will turn ugly in one year, if you get three back you will turn pretty.  Damn the fate of my good looks rests in this text.
Note that the original text was sent a WEEK AND A HALF AGO but only was my phone going nuts last night.  And this is why:
Hailey: hi
Friend #1: do you really mean that we will die together
Friend #1: that is so sweet i love you as a sfam (sisters from another mother)  (Loses its meaning once you have to explain it)
Hailey: hahaha me to (Is it that hard to type out the extra “o”?)
Friend #1: that is the nicest thing any body has ever said to me (This depresses me)
Hailey: i said that to 10 other people (Straight up truth)
Friend #1: ok well i just read it so i haven’t sent it to any body yet plus your the coolest sfam in the world
Hailey: you too
Friend #1: so are you ready for eliches (amusement park) on fri
Hailey: yea
Friend #1: and have a amazing sleepover
[Then the culprit texted a pic of herself with some shiny string braids in her hair and painted nails; she looks like she can't be a day over 5.  When do kids get phones now?!]
Friend #1: oh and do you like my nails
Hailey: super cool
Friend #2: hi
Friend #3: who’s this?
Friend #2: hey i sent that to u emily
Friend #2: who r u
Friend #3: armani (nobody is ever named that, at least not in Colorado… maybe Trevor or Travis)
Friend #2: i’m evie i think we met at haily’s church
Hailey: don’t use this group text any more (SALVATION)
Friend #2: k
Friend #1: some times  (Oh friend #1 is back; who’s question is she answering?)
I just want to be honest and say that I will be THAT parent, that parent that snoops and embarrasses.  Future, unborn children — get ready for some fun!  Actually I’m saving this blog entry for Hailey as well.  I may reference it in every birthday card from here on out.

My Week in Photos

Terry drew a picture of me and it reminded me of how I do not like my side profile.  Apparently my face is just one continuous egg.


Dealt with this allergic reaction for a couple days but I’m on 10 days of antibiotics.  The bugs near our new place are TREACHEROUS.


Marlow doing work.


Marlow’s curves.


Chaat Sunday.


My friend’s amazing garden.  They grow EVERYTHING!


They even have chickens!


We decorated my coworker’s cube for her birthday and hid 25 different pictures of Oprah with customized sayings.


Here’s a sample.  That’s “Happy birthday” in Vietnamese.

rena bday 19

Summer of a Lifetime

summer of a lifetime

Look at unshaven, young Terry (bottom middle)!


Back in college, specifically the summer after sophomore year, our group of friends came up with a set of activities for those who decided not to go back home for the summer.  We called it “Summer of a Lifetime” and made it spectacular by matching our clothes every time we did an activity.  We saw live music at the Hollywood Bowl, we watched giraffes mate at the San Diego Zoo, we hiked 8 miles to a beautiful lake, we camped, we lived.  I was still working 40 hours a week at the UCI Housing Office so going out was still a luxury, as it is now, but I had a lot less responsibilities and no significant other.

What should you do this summer?  Here is a list of things I have done in the past or want to do this summer (sorry mostly limited to the Bay Area):

  • Real Escape Room – get together with a group of friends or strangers and escape from a room in a limited amount of time
  • Go on a day/weekend trip to Napa, Monterey, Pismo Beach, Mendocino (I need to do the last two!)
  • Alameda County Fair (or any county fair in your area!) on either July 4th (because fireworks are included) or check the performance schedule to see which oldie but goodie performer is there.  I was lucky enough to see Boyz II Men a couple years ago an that was still one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to.
  • Create a summer reading list (below are my recent favorites, most of which I’ve read for FREE from my local online library):
    • The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss
    • Wonder – R.J. Palacio
    • The Fault in Our Stores – John Green
    • Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? – Mindy Kaling
    • Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash – Edward Humes
    • 1Q84 – Haruki Murakami (currently reading)
  • Go for a run around Lake Merritt (Oakland) or Lake Elizabeth (Fremont)
  • Picnic anywhere; there are so many choices!
  • Take Titan and Marlow to Fort Funston and other new dog parks
  • Plant a summer vegetable, herb, or fruit in a pot!  It is so satisfying to work with your hands and get something delicious out of it.  Plus, you can trade with friends since gardening seems to be the thing to do nowadays.

Let me know what your suggestions are!  We’re always looking for new experiences.


Game of Thrones Season 4 Finale Dinner


Inspired by Rachel Howden’s blog and in excitement for the finale, a couple friends and I decided to cook up some items for the season 4 finale of Game of Thrones.  It is not comparable to any of Rachel’s feasts by far but there were only five of us and we were bursting at the seams afterwards.  We didn’t really stick with a particular region’s cuisine… just what we thought some food was like back then.  Not pictured were the sour beers and wine.

Cheese, fruit, and olive platter (figs are pricey!):


Roast chicken with fixings:


Bacon wrapped trout:


Lord Manderly’s Pie:

This was so time consuming to make and I’m still amazed that with around 3-4 lbs. of filling, the pie is still free standing.  Parsnips weren’t in season so I substituted with rutabaga and potatoes.




Lemon bars/cakes:




I literally felt like I ate a Thanksgiving dinner.  I was hurting and sleepy but satisfied.  Even though I’ve read all the books thus far, I still get giddy like a chicken to see when they will kill off someone, what they choose to show in each episode, and all the great acting.  I might have to re-read some of the books before next season.  Try out some of the recipes from Inn at the Crossroads and show me how it turns out!