All you need are Friends and Music

I know my last post was a bit negative so let’s compensate with a different mindset. Some gratitude (a helpful article on how gratitude is effective in the workplace). Some perspective.

Although the world is ending around us, I can still find the silver lining in my personal life. I am truly grateful for my friends and I have such an amazing community of people that I trust and love and am comfortable enough to show my neurotic overthinking woes or my first second third pilot drafts. If I need a hug, they’ll hold me. If I need to vent, they’ll listen. When I’m hating myself and define myself by my failures, they hold me up and look me in the eye, showing me how much they appreciate me. How much they value me. I matter. To them. A simple “how are you.” An email blast to let everyone know it’s my birthday. Watching a movie with me even though they’ve already seen it. A shared meal, shared time, shared experiences.

I work with a lot of kids and I’ve seen how much pressure they’ve put upon themselves. And at such a young age, they define themselves by their limited experiences and accomplishments. Most of the time that’s defined by things, because it’s in front of their faces, because it’s measurable, but it’s not sustainable. I saw high performing overachieving high schoolers get wrecked up by the scores they get, the colleges they get in/or not get in, the student government positions they hold. And when I told them to not define their accomplishments by those things, they asked me point blank, well, what do you consider your greatest accomplishments?

My relationships with others. I’m so grateful that I have been able to maintain friendships with people I’ve known since diapers, since middle school, high school, college, Spain, work, this summer. I’m grateful that I get to be a part of their lives, and share within their milestones (weddings, first borns, second borns, birthdays). This year, I’ve officiated two weddings — that my friends wanted me to be a part of their wedding and to hear what I had to say, was an honor!

I am seen. I am heard. I am loved.

I’m also grateful for music. Especially Spotify. OMG, because I have access to so many different artists, different sounds, moods, tones, beats, rhythms, there’s a song for every moment that I live. It heightens my happiness but also sympathizes with my sadness. How someone I’ve never met can create and share something that truly understands the minute changes, ebbs and flows of my feelings and thoughts throughout the day is OMG fucking mind blowing. It’s a connection that transcends human understanding that is felt within every inch of my body. And I LOVE it. And it makes me happy.




Nobody can save you but

yourself – and you’re worth

saving. It’s a war not easily

won but if anything is worth

winning – this is it.  

— Charles Bukowski

The world is strange and tough. A lot of things don’t make any sense to me — like Taco Tuesdays on a Monday. I’m making it up as I go along and sometimes I compare myself to others as a measure of my own progress.

But comparing myself to others hurts me in so many ways. And I found myself doing that at Burning Man.

Burning Man is larger than life. Large in scale. Beyond “large”. I am constantly in awe at people’s ingenuity, creativity and generosity — to the point that I feel not worthy to be in the presence of such greatness — to the point that I compare myself and realize I could never amount to even a fraction of such greatness.

Although this thought comes up for me, it’s fleeting because a lot of what makes Burning Man Burning Man is community. 

This was my second year. My first year was so overwhelming.  I am an anxious and impatient person so my first year was full of anti fomoing — must see this, must be here, must be up up up and go go go, to the point that I was completely burnt out and over it by my last day. I was so tired I couldn’t/wouldn’t enjoy Burning Man any longer.

So why come back? I’m a few years older and a bit calmer in nature (a bit but not by much) and I didn’t feel the pressure of having to partake in everything Burning Man had to offer anymore. Burning Man is so large and full that it is impossible to experience everything and this year coming into the burn, I had made my peace with that. And with that pressure lifted from my shoulders, it made me more receptive to meaningful and surprising connections with others and it opened me to discover that Burning Man wasn’t just a one time buffet of extravagant experiences, but could be felt and lived on the daily.

I’m an extrovert and I feel energized when connecting with a lot of people. I usually connect with people through conversations and getting to know a person interpersonally, sharing and swapping stories. But with Burning Man and keeping with their 10 principles, I practiced Gifting. I brought my flute to Burning Man and busted it out. When someone approached me, or I was introduced to someone new, instead of asking the usual ‘What’s your name, what do you do?’ I told people to give me three adjectives that described themselves and from what they said, I improvised a little tune on my flute for them.

With something that came easy and readily for me now (albeit after years of training in music), after my little ditty, I saw genuine awe in people’s eyes. Some asked me what my process was (if your word was ‘open’ = C major — most commonly used in pop songs, ‘grounded’ = low G major — down to earth kind of feel, ‘sexy’ = flute trill with a little hip action ;)) and after explaining it, people complimented me on how I spoke and thought about music in terms of their personality, and it made me feel valued and part of the community of Burning Man.

I connected with people through music, something beyond words. I was just jamming on my flute for a camp and a violinist arrived and asked to jam with me. Burning Man is about saying yes, so I said, absolutely! We exchanged more music notes than words and when we played together, unrehearsed and organically, it was beautiful. Her name was Empress and her violin was white. I had no idea where she was from or even her real name, but we connected when our notes and rhythm just felt right together. That connection transcended and I could feel the people who were listening enjoyed our improvised songs and they in turn was part of the experience, part of the connection, part of the community.

She’s wild, uncombed, unpredictable.

She’s a whirlwind. A mess. Lost.

Insecurities manifest into a monster that is she. 

But what makes her wild, makes her beautiful. 

She is missed and her community calls to her to come back. 

And she calms, she listens, she is saved. 

photos courtesy of Niamh and PK



Use your resources.

As much as I bitch and complain about my day job (versus my passion job), I have to be grateful that it’s a restaurant full of creative people.  We’re made up of comedians, musicians and actors all trying to be in the industry.  Being in LA has given me the opportunity to surround myself with different types of creative people in different levels of their career.  I get invited to music shows, to screenings and to stand up.  I get to see people’s progress from working at the restaurant to being able to quit because they’re actually making it.  It’s inspiring and addicting.  It’s contagious, I want to be them. Be a part of them. Work with them.

And I have!

I’ve realized that I’ve met a lot of creative people, especially from the restaurant! And when we work together, we produce awesome things.  Every Xmas, a coworker of mine, Paul, produces a holiday cd that features the creative talents of our restaurant.  I was fortunate enough to be a part of this cd last year and this year.  And I would like to use this post to feature his production on my latest song.  I wrote it and rapped it, but he really put it together and I just want to share how awesome he has made it.  So check it out:

Also, looking at all my tracks on soundcloud, I’ve realized that none of them would have been possible without the help of my restaurant people.  Someone from the restaurant not only has always inspired me or encouraged me to produce these tracks, but has also provided the beats for me and has given it a production value that I could not do on my own.  Check them all out here:





My parents are awesome.  Sure it’s taken me almost 26 years to appreciate them, but nevertheless, better late than never.  Last weekend I was supposed to go up to the bay for a family outing in sf.  This was in the calendar for weeks and I was all set to go until my manager calls me a day before and tells me I have a meeting with an agent (I’m getting a new commercial agent because my old one is leaving her agency due to internal turmoil within that agency — she doesn’t want to work for a shady owner in which I respect, but leaves me with no agency representation) on a Saturday afternoon, the Saturday right smack in the middle of my bay trip. 😦 I couldn’t find a ride out after the meeting so I couldn’t go back to the bay.

I was really upset when I realized my trip wasn’t going to happen and I called my mom to let her know.  She was wonderful about it.  She said every opportunity matters and that she and my dad understood.  She said I could always come home whenevers.

That’s so sweet.  Even thinking about it makes me feel loved.

I had some friends ask me once, “are your parents proud of you?”  In which I answered, “not yet.”  My parents worked really hard to get to the states, my dad fighting in the war, my mom staying in refugee camps.  With the help of my aunt on my mom’s side, they managed to find each other and rent out a one bedroom apartment in good ole east side San Jose.  My dad’s first job was a janitor and my mom’s was a teacher’s assistant for many years. Because it was such a struggle, they wanted their kids to have a secure and successful life.  So of course my mom pushed me and my sisters to be scientists, doctors, dentists, etc. (the Asian American dream).

But here’s where they fucked up.  My mom was a teacher and brought home tons of books, especially music and art books.  My dad was a computer techie and brought home huge empty computer cardboard boxes and Lucas Arts computer games (role-playing games that were rich in characters and story.  My all time favorite is Monkey Island and I will name my first dog Guybrush Threepwood).  They took us to museums, made us take piano lessons, encouraged reading and movie watching (i.e. Indiana Jones and Star Wars).  With a one-bedroom apartment, my parents had to be creative in thinking how to use their space to raise 3 girls.  Thus the 3-story bunk bed (picture above).  That in itself was utopia for the imagination.  We laid blue sheets and blankets on the carpet and draped it off the first story bed and pretended it was a pool or the ocean.  Underneath the makeshift desk was our hidden cave.  We draped a beach towel over the bunk bed ladder and it became a mail chute where we delivered old valentine cards.  We used lawn chairs, the cardboard boxes, and a toy clock to make a time machine.

So it was no surprise that I’m trying to do the acting thing, my hipster sister doing the starving artist thing (typical of hipsterdom: she recently graduated with a BA in fine arts), and my youngest sister, a senior in HS is contemplating between being an engineer or a musician (she was the best out of us 3 on the piano).  My mom actually says that the youngest sister is her last hope — she rather my sister became an engineer.  Hahaha

So no, my parents are not proud of me yet.  It’s not that they’re ashamed of me either.  They’re just worried.  My mom especially.  I think she’s in denial of what I’m doing with my life and thinks it’s just a phase.  My dad is a fan, but only in “secret,” he’ll ask me about my progress and just listen nothing more.

Here’s the thing: I want to make my parents proud.  They worked really hard to get where they’re at and it’s admirable: my mom’s a teacher with tenure, my dad is an engineer, and they live in a 4 bedroom house that they own in the suburbs of San Jose.  They made it where my sisters and I can choose to be a starving artist.  However, I want to succeed not for the fame or fortune or whatever that may mean, but to succeed would justify their struggle and hard work.  I want to succeed for them.


I’m in a rut so let’s indulge.

Lately I haven’t been really doing anything towards my acting career.  Outside of classes and networking, there’s a lot of down time.  A lot.  So what do I do?  I indulge in anything creative: books, movies, music, art.

A couple of weeks ago, went to LACMA and really enjoyed the “In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States” exhibit.  It was really empowering to see women reflect their personal experiences into tangible works of art sharing their struggles, their opinions, and their ideas.  I have to admit though, surrealism creeps me out.

Recently I’ve been watching documentaries on Netflix, honorary mentions include “Being Elmo,” “Afghan Star,” and “Herb and Dorothy.”  All were about people that were passionate about something and really materialized their passion into a reality, despite financial struggles and criticism.  Super inspiring.  They never had a set plan, they just did their thang.

This past week, went to my first book club meeting ever.  It was sooo exciting and fun.  I just ordered my copy of the book for next month’s meeting on amazon.  We’re reading the 50 shades of grey.  We actually talked about books and I got to vent about weak women protagonist such as Bella Swan and the sorry ass 7th harry potter book.  Sorry JK Rowling, you took on too much and made harry potter to be a born again saint.  Literally.

And finally, next week, I will indulge in music.  Coachella hella hella hella norcal! Loyal to my soil.  Bay area! Whoooot!

Life isn’t so bad 🙂