Category Archives: Journal

In Memory of My Grandmother

My paternal grandmother passed away two days ago. :( While her health has been declining for the past few years, and she was in critical condition with pneumonia for the past few weeks, it was still a shock to learn of her death. It’s like when you can see the fist coming toward you but it’s still a jarring and painful blow when it is delivered.

This is not the first time someone I knew died, but it is the first time losing someone who is so dear to me. I’ve known only two of my grandparents and she was by far the closest to me. She was a substitute parent to me when I was growing up. She and my uncle took me to the United States from Hong Kong, where my parents stayed behind for a few months due to the birth of my little sister. I was too young to remember that, but I do remember her taking care of me in elementary school while my parents were working or going to school.

At almost 90 years old, she has lived a very long life, leaving behind 4 children and 8 grandchildren. Her husband died when my father was 5 years old, and she remained a single mother–in Vietnam. She made and sold food for a living. I got to enjoy her cooking expertise when I was growing up. One of my regrets for not knowing Vietnamese well was I had trouble speaking to her since she didn’t understand English. Fortunately I was able to understand spoken Vietnamese still.

When I spoke to my father about her death, he reassured me that this really was for the best. She was in the hospital from the pneumonia, and her kidney had failed, causing fluid retention. There was an option to put her on dialysis but it was merely postponing the inevitable. Even before that, she had trouble recognizing family members, even my father who would regularly visit her in nursing home. She had no idea who I was but that was understandable since I would visit my family and her in Southern California a few times a year.

Despite my personal pain of losing my beloved grandmother, there is solace in knowing that she can now rest in peace.

Camping and White Water Rafting Adventure

Outdoor Slumber Party

Earlier this month, I went white water rafting with co-workers as part of a team outing. It was a lot of fun, along with some hard work.

The night before the rafting, we camped nearby to avoid having to do a 3 or 4 hour drive the morning of the rafting trip. We had to pitch our tents in dark because we got there later than expected due to traffic and getting lost finding the site. I was glad I brought my own flashlight. Also, I brought an egg crate foam padding that I used to use for my previous beds to provide cushion from the ground.

That night, we sat around a campfire and people roasted marshmallows. We played several rounds of the Werewolf aka Mafia game. It’s a really fun group game. Before going to sleep, we went out to the riverbank to take in the beauty of the river at night.

I would only camp as long as there are flushable toilets and running hot water for showers. These amenities, though bare and far from the camp site, made camping more of an outdoor slumber party. :)

Whitewater Rafting

I fell out of the raft during one of the rapids. I’m not a strong swimmer, and I almost drowned in beginner swimming class. So I freaked out when I fell out and went underwater because it felt like the time I was drowning. Fortunately, I had my life vest on, but I had my eyes closed because I thought I was still under water, so I didn’t realize that my head had gotten out of the water. I reached out blindly for a hand. I could hear our guide calling out to me. He told me to let go of his shirt sleeve, which was making it hard for him to hold me. But I didn’t know which of my hands was holding what so I couldn’t let go. Eventually, he was able to pull me back into the raft. Thanks, Phil!

We got the CD containing the photos of the rafts at different rapids. I have uploaded the photos taken at the rapid where I fell out.

Before I flew out of the raft. I’m sitting toward the back, on the righthand side, with a black cap.

Our guide reaches out to rescue me after I fell into the water

Oh no! Where did I go?

Phil gets ahold of my hand

Phil multitasks as he rescues me and steers the raft

Back in the raft

Got My (Social) Dance Skills Back

I caught the dance bug in college at a dance party where people started doing swing dance. I was bummed that I couldn’t participate so I resolved to take one of the social dance classes at Stanford. I took beginner and intermediate Social Dance, and also took more advanced classes to hone my swing and hustle skills. After college, I continued to go to the dance scene at Stanford.

As the years went by, I went dancing less and less until I hadn’t gone for years. Even when I had opportunities, I couldn’t go because I couldn’t find my dance shoes.

Last month, a friend told me she was going to take dance classes at a dance studio not too far from my apartment. I figured it would be fun to take dance with friends, so I signed up for Intermediate East Coast Swing and Intermediate Cha Cha. I went shopping for new dance shoes but my friend told me that they weren’t required at the ballroom.
During the first class, I wore tennis shoes. I had so completely forgotten how to dance that I couldn’t even remember the basic steps of EC Swing was triple-step triple-step rock-step! If dancing was talking, I was stuttering on the dance floor. It was so pathetic. I felt so bad for my partners. I felt out of my league.

In the cha cha class, I couldn’t even get the basic steps there either. The instructor had to pull me aside to go through the steps. He asked me if I had ever taken cha cha. Yes, I did, but it was years ago and I forgot how to do it.

Before the second class tonight, I was more prepared. I had found my dance shoes. I also trimmed my fingernails so I didn’t have to worry about scratching my dance partners. Having the dance shoes helped me move better on the dance floor, especially when spinning. With short nails, I didn’t have to worry about hurting my partners. Those two things improved the experience for me.

I remembered more of the swing stuff so I had a better time in the class. I was still unsure of the cha cha steps, so my friend went through it with me. I felt lost at the beginning of the class and regretted signing up for cha cha. In the middle of class, I finally got it and ended up having a better time. The instructor also didn’t have to help me out individually during class.

As I left the dance place to go home, I felt really great. It’s so fun to dance when I can go through the patterns. I wasn’t perfect by any means, but I made a huge improvement from the previous class. There’s also that positive feeling that results from physical activity. Plus I liked the music that was playing in the car as I drove home.

They say it’s like riding a bicycle… you never forget. Well, last week I rode a (borrowed) bicycle for the first time in about 3 years and I also struggled with it. I almost gave up but forced myself to practice until I got it. Part of the problem is that I’m used to bikes with hand brakes and it freaked me out to brake by back pedaling.

Can’t Always Find What I’m Looking for… So I Look for Something Else to Find It

The past few months, there have been two items that I wanted to find but could not. I didn’t go dancing because I could not find my dancing shoes. My parents invited me to go to China with them later in the year, but I had lost my passport.

The dance shoes weren’t a big problem because I could buy a new pair. The passport was trickier since it would require that I have to go through the whole process of applying for a new passport. I had looked for the passport to no avail but I didn’t try that hard since it wasn’t urgent for me to have it.

Yesterday, my dad called and left a voicemail insisting that I find my passport and/or re-apply so I would have the replacement in time for the trip, considering how long it could take to get a new passport.

So I did research on requirements for replacing the lost passport. One of them was my Citizenship Certificate, which I didn’t have. I didn’t think I lost it, though, since I had a box that I remembered storing it in. Problem was I hadn’t seen it in years so I wasn’t sure of the box’s location.

Since I couldn’t find the box at my apartment, I called my dad to see if he could find the box in their garage.

While waiting for him to search for the box containing the Citizenship Certificate, I made a renewed effort to search my storage room more thoroughly. I didn’t find the passport :(, but found my dance shoes. :)

Hours later, he called and told me he found the certificate and passport! I have no recollection of storing them together. My last memory of the passport was that I had to put it in a safe place. I hate when I do that because I put it away in such a safe place I can’t remember it.

What a relief to find my passport and certificate. The certificate would have been more difficult to replace than the passport, which couldn’t be replaced without the certificate.

Yay for happy endings. :) I just wish I could find things when I’m looking for them, instead of finding item A while searching for item B.

Oh, Beautiful Day!

It was a gorgeous Friday morning as I drove to work. Sunnyvale was living up to its name. I had the sunroof open. The DJ on the radio said something about “Ugly Betty” being picked up for the next season. Additionally, several ABC shows were listed. The best news was hearing that the show that is near and dear to my heart, Grey’s Anatomy, will be back next season. This is a relief since I heard a rumor that it was going to be canceled. After the announcement, one of my favorite songs came on: Here (In Your Arms) by Hellogoodbye.

Life is good: Great weather. Open sunroof. Good news. Awesome song. I feel pretty fortunate. Then again maybe to some people those things are too simple to derive joy or pleasure from. I guess it doesn’t take much to make me happy. My idea of a good time is just sitting around chatting with friends. There’s something so soothing about petting a contented cat.