One year ago today

One year ago today, I lost my father after a brief and unexpected battle with cancer.  It’s been a difficult year, but I try to stay positive by thinking about how blessed I was to have had him in my life and how lucky I am to be surrounded and supported by wonderful and amazing family and friends.    

The following is an e-mail from the past, composed 11 months and 1 day ago, on December 08, 2011. It is being delivered from the past through FutureMe.org:

Dear FutureMe,

In three days, it will be one month since Baba passed away, and when you get this email, one year will have passed. I don't know if the feeling of grief will be any different. Right now, it's still hard to believe that Baba is gone and that I'll never be able to hold and hug him, or see him at his computer or reading on the couch. I'll miss the thick oily scent of his hair, and his low voice providing comments and advice on any range of topics. I'll miss how much he loved talking about his purchases, and learning more about them through books he ordered online.

I hope you never forget that last night I dreamt of Baba. I got into the passenger side of Er Jiu's old white van, and Baba was in the driver's seat, wearing his thick white jacket. I somehow knew he had come to see me in the dream, so I leaned over and held him tight, trying to capture the feel and smell of holding him again. He drove down Madre, and even though we were in the right side of the street, there was oncoming traffic in our lane. I started getting scared and asked Baba to turn into the parking lot of the 76 station. He assured me that it was OK, but I was still getting scared so he turned into the parking lot of the Kaiser on Foothill. We got out of the car and started walking into the building. I held him close and started crying. I was trying to tell him that I'm sorry I didn't talk him more when he was alive, and that I feel like I didn't talk enough. Because I was crying so much, my words were all jumbled and he laughed and repeated "Suff?" when I tried to say that I didn't "Sou (talk) enough." I said that it was because I always wanted to be independent but I wished that I spent more time at home and talking with him. He told me not to feel bad. We continued walking with my holding his arm, when Jack arrived out of nowhere. Jack called me name to ask me something, and I turned to him to say I would talk to him later. Baba had continued walking ahead, and looked back at me and smiled before turning a corner. I raced to the corner and he was gone. I kept looking for a while, but none of the people there were him. When I woke up, I was crying a lot thinking about it, but so glad to be able to see Baba one more time.

Nowadays, what I think of a lot is Baba's voice telling me, "I love you too" from the hospital bed, from when I told him how much I loved him and what great parents him and Mama were. I told him that my only fear in life was not being as good of a parent as they were, and he told me, "You have to have the strength to do what's right. Look at me and Mama, we were never scared." But I always go back to when he said, "I love you too."

I know he was always with us up to the end, because every night I would tell him, "Good night, Baba, I love you," and kiss his forehead, and he would always nod his head in recognition. Another image that sticks in my head is the last time he left the house. He was at home for about three hours before the Rose Hills people came. We said our final thank you and good bye, and then I remember them carrying him out of the front door in the stretcher while we watched.

I hope the wedding planning is going well. I love Lauren so much and can't wait to get married. Although it was surrounded by so much sadness, please don't ever forget how happy Baba looked when I came home to show him Lauren and I were engaged. He had been sleeping in the morning when I left, and did not open his eyes when I told him I was going to propose that day to Lauren. However, when I came home with her, his eyes were open and he had a big smile on his face while he was looking at me and Lauren. Mama said that he hadn't opened his eyes all day, but he was awake for us. by that time he was too tired to say anything, but May May had bought a cake and we all ate it around him in the family room to celebrate.

I hope we are all doing well, and that we have begun to accept Baba's departure. I know that he will always be with us in spirit, and will always be watching over us for the rest of our lives. I miss him so much and know that I always will, but I hope the hurt someday gets better. We did our best to give him the best possible service we could, and I hope he was happy with it. On the day of the burial, I placed a bird of paradise on his vault, for the ones we have by our driveway. And all the time, I think of Baba, and just want him to know I love him so much and am so thankful to have had him. Mama is doing OK, but I know it will just take time to heal.

Popo doesn't have much time left, but I hope she passes peacefully. I hope Matthew and Kaitlyn continue to be cute, and that they grow up learning how much Baba adored them. The picture in my mind will always be of one time where they were iChatting, and Baba kept telling the kids, "Gong Gong loves you, Gong Gong loves you!" Please do your best to let them know how much he loved them.

Anyways, I'll set this so that I'll receive it on the first, second, fifth and tenth anniversary of Baba's death, so that it will help me remember him.

As before, cherish your loved ones and take advantage of your time. Keep your body in good health and work hard at everything you do.



marlowe again

Five of us from law school met up last night at Marlowe, and ordered five burgers. Still as delicious as I thought last time.


weekend recap

Another great but busy weekend, following a two days of work last weekend, and the Kellogg reunion the weekend before that.

- This one kicked off with Little Start Pizza, two pies from one of my overall favorite pizza joints. I still need to make an updated Zachary's comparison, but it's just too hard to get to the East Bay.

- Short visit to Howard and Dao's birthday BBQ at Golden Gate Park. I wish I could've stayed longer but...

- Then I was off to Godwin and Meredith's wedding in Pleasanton. Congratulations to an awesome couple and I had a great time catching up with a lot of friends I hadn't seen in much too long.

- After a relaxing morning, Lauren and I headed off to Maya's 7th birthday party in Menlo Park. This time it was a long-overdue catching up with family, along with meeting baby Atticus for the first time!



Lauren and I went to Marlowe last night, and it was awesome. I have heard some good press about the burger there, and it delivered. The last SF burger that I was looking forward to was at Chez Maman, but it didn't live up to the hype. Marlowe did.

As far as old favorites go, I still need to re-try the burger at Zuni Cafe, and for new burgers on my list are Bill's Place and Balboa Cafe.


to be rickrolled

I had seen the term before, but finally decided to look it up: Rickrolling. These crazy people on the internet.

upcoming in sf

After a weekend of big-screen TV shopping, I think I've narrowed it down to a few candidates. I'm definitely gonna go with a 46/47" screen from either LG or Samsung (the only brands with a swivel stand). Wht's left to decide is whether I go budget with a 60Hz refresh rate, or pick up a more expensive model with 120Hz or 240Hz (and maybe even the Sam Sung LED model). I'm pretty sure that I'll at least wait until my next paycheck, so I'll keep you all posted.

In terms of upcoming events in San Francisco, here's what I've heard about (and that sound interesting) so far:

Jan 16 - May 2: Cartoon Art Museum - Drawing the Sword: Samurai in Manga and Anime
Feb 3-7: 7th annual San Francisco Ocean Film Festival
Feb 6-7: San Francisco Fine Print Fair
Feb 12: Slow Food San Francisco and the Ferry Building presents: "Food From the Heart"


settling in

I've lived in my new apartment for exactly one week now, and I do feel quite settled in already. Of course, all my stuff arrived on the first day, while Lauren's stuff does not get in until tomorrow. Last week went by in a blur, as it was mostly unpacking and shopping for furniture/household goods. The only big purchase we've made so far is a mattress for the guest room, although I've got quite the shopping list for when I start making money.

Here's the list in tentative order:

1. Larger HDTV. I'm thinking something along the line of 37" to 42", since our living room space is a bit limited. However, that's also a much better price point, so I'll be able to afford a 1080 screen, rather than a 720.

2. Desktop PC. This is largely a splurge, since I've already got my MacBook and an old netbook. However, I would like a more powerful PC for both media viewing as well as World of Warcraft. Buying a desktop computer used to be priority #1, but I've been getting used to using my laptop for WoW, so this has dropped down to #2. Unless I see a really good deal.

3. Roku / Popcorn Hour / Internet media device. I have been dying to get one of these for a long time, and even more so now that there's a ethernet connection right behind the TV. Of course, I'll wait until I purchase a new TV before getting a Roku (or like device) - but hopefully that'll be soon after my first few paychecks!

Those are probably the most important big purchases for now, although I do need a bunch of smaller miscellaneous stuff. If I really have extra money, I would probably upgrade my D40 to a D90, but camera stuff I want is a whole other post...


2009 recap

Greetings family, friends and curious internet surfers!

This year has been quite a big one for me, and I had ambitious plans to send a newsletter along with my Christmas cards detailing what I've been up to in 2009. After all, I figured I would have nearly seven months of free time after graduating in early May, and even counting after finishing the bar in July, I'd have a full five months before starting work. Of course, we all know how time flies, so without any further adieu, here is my year in review!

Big events:

- Law school graduation (May) - It was a great three-year run, but I'm definitely ready to move on!

- Business school graduation (June) - An equally great two-year run, and I don't think I could have lasted a third year!

- Took the bar (July) - Easily the hardest test I've ever taken.
- Moved back home to Pasadena (August) - I wasn't sure how things would work out once I moved back home, but now there's no question that I'll miss spending time with my parents and eating home-cooked food every night.
- Passed the bar (July) - Whew! Thankfully, my ten weeks of studying 6-10 hours per day, 7 days a week, paid off!

- Moving to San Francisco (starting December 28) - Now it's time for me to start the next leg of my life, and I'm very excited that I'll be back in San Francisco after a four-year hiatus. Although I'll miss my parents, this means more time with family and friends in the Bay Area (including my nephew Matthew)!

Places I went:
This was a pretty big travel year for me, as I wrapped up grad school and went on a plethora of trips.

Bahamas (January) - Long weekend in Freeport with the Kellogg Rugby Football Club. Although we lost our match, we escaped the fiercest storm of the winter, and plus I got a mohawk!

Wisconsin (February) - I tried my hand at snowboarding in the Midwest, and the rumors are true. It's flat out there.

family of 4 on MP
Peru (March) - Had a great trip with my parents and younger sister visiting Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca during the first half of my spring break.

Los Angeles/San Francisco (March) - The second half of my spring break included hanging out in LA and SF. I got to see my nephew, baby cousins and also the World Baseball Classic championship game at Dodger Stadium!

Durham, NC (April) - Traveled once again with the rugby team for the Duke MBA Rugby World Cup and left as the winner of the loser's bracket (losing only twice to Columbia)!

Auburn, CA (May) - Lauren and I ventured into California gold rush territory north of Sacramento for Amy and Brett's wedding.

Per Se Mosaic
New York, NY (July) - While taking a short study trip (we still put in at least six hours a day in our hotel room), Lauren and I went all out and treated ourselves to a no-holds-barred, decadent and truly memorable meal at Per Se. Gerald, thanks for getting us the reservation!

Pasadena, CA (August) - Not technically a trip, since I was moving back home, but I did make it in time to attend Mark and Erin's fun wedding.

Korea (September) - Toured Korea with the Andys, as we went all around Seoul (including the DMZ area) plus took the train down to Busan where we hit the beach and sampled the local sefood - including live, raw octopus!

China (September) - From Korea, I flew to Shanghai, where I hung out with a bunch of school friends. Apart from Shanghai, I climbed Huang Shan with Howard and Matt, and visited Shenzhen and Hong Kong with Jack. Plus, along the way, I got to see a bunch of old friends from Berkeley.

Australia (October) - For the next big trip, Lauren and I went down under and traveled the length of the eastern coast of Australia, traveling to Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns (Great Barrier Reef), Melbourne and Adelaide.

Seattle, WA (November) - I've wanted to take a domestic train trip for a long time, and I finally made it happen with a 35-hour train ride from Los Angeles to Seattle. I was accompanied by Dave, a law school buddy, and we also got to hung out with a few other friends in Seattle, including my old fraternity big bro and my younger sister's best friend.

Arizona/New Mexico/Texas (November) - In lieu of celebrating Thanksgiving at home, I took a bus trip with my parents and grandmother to visit the American Southwest. We made it out to White Sands, New Mexico, as well as Carlsbad Caverns (also in New Mexico), passing through Phoenix, Tucson and El Paso.

All in all, it's been a whirlwind year for me. It seems like just yesterday that I was ringing in the new year, and now I'll be going forward with my new career in just a few weeks! I've been horrible with my blog these past few years, but updating it regularly will be one of my new year's resolutions, so please feel free to visit the site next year to see what I've been up to.

Happy holidays, season's greetings, and best wishes for an incredible 2010!




the clique


left to right: Blue, Paulina (Blue's wife), McTater, McDrake, Jennifer (Dalbert's wife), Dalbert and Yusaku


mike wu, esq.

I passed! Now to catch up on nearly half a year's worth of postings. I'll try my way to work backwards: Seattle -> San Diego -> Australia -> China -> Korea -> Graduation

passedthe barwoot