Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Mr. Chin’s Big Question

On the afternoon before the 70th anniversary party for Herman’s mother and father, I sat down with my father-in-law for a chat. Since he is hard of hearing, he spoke while I responded by writing on a notepad. It was the longest exchange we’ve had in the twenty-four years I’ve know him. It was the first time he’d ever asked about my life, and he seemed quite surprised by my answers. For instance, he is an avid reader and he was surprised to discover I’ve published nine books.

During this conversation, I found it strange that he knew so little about me. I would have thought the rest of the family, Herman’s brothers and sisters, would have given him my details. But no, he seemed to know almost nothing about me.

Then he asked if I planned to ever get married and have a family. That’s when my jaw dropped nearly to the floor, because it was painfully obvious that he was talking about my marrying a woman.

I wrote on the notepad: “Herman and I have been living together for twenty-four years. We have been legally married for ten years.”

He read my response and grew very still, not saying anything for two or three minutes. I’ve never seen him look so sad. But then he waved a hand in the air to dismiss the whole subject and said, “I don’t care what you people do with your lives. I just want you to be happy.” I told him we are very happy, but that didn’t make him look any less sad.

Now I’m wondering if he is suffering from dementia. I don’t know how else to explain it. I mean, I’ve attended every family event and every holiday and anniversary for twenty-four years. How could he not know Herman and I are married? Everyone else in the family knows. Why not Mr. Chin?

I found myself feeling very sorry for the old man.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Mom and Dad’s 70th Anniversary Party

Seeing the family together was as wonderful as always. It was a bittersweet party because Herman’s brother-in-law passed away the day before. But Herman’s parents were not told of Roy’s passing, so they had a wonderful time. Everyone was focused on making sure the party was a celebration of 70 years of love and family and togetherness.

It was a traditional Chinese banquet dinner at one of our favorite San Francisco dim sum restaurants, Koi Palace.  Nine tables for ninety guests.

Herman with my parents and siblings
Parents and the rest of the family
Herman and me with one of my nephews, his wife, and a soon to be addition to the family.
 Mom and Dad, with the group at our table.
Sucking pig w/foie-gras and fruit salad.
Fried shrimp & scallop mousse.
 Wild mushroom, black truffle braised longevity noodles.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Disturbing Trends on TV & Facebook

I’ve seen some disturbing trends on TV and Facebook lately; actually I’ve seen them for a long time but they are getting more pronounced and widespread, and I’m bothered by it. This trend is to bash anyone who holds a different opinion. It’s a form of hate, a form of bullying, and I believe it needs to stop. 

I see it daily, personal attacks aimed at Donald Trump, Hilary Clinton and the like. Liberals and Conservatives. Educated and ill-informed. I see these people launching personal attacks on others for being hateful, and I think, what hypocrites we’ve all turned into. What makes anyone feel that voicing one form of hate is justified to combat another form of hate?

Many seem to feel it’s open season for anyone on the national stage, that fame makes people an acceptable target. I disagree. Hate is hate. It’s ugly and it’s destructive no matter who it’s aimed at. 

Last year one of my New Year’s resolutions was to speak no evil of anyone, to stay positive and not voice any negative thoughts. I found it particularly hard at first, especially considering what’s going on with the national political front. I hold strong opinions about people and issues, but I’m forcing myself to only voice positives. It’s the old Golden Rule in action.

Please believe me, I’m not trying to sound holier than thou. I’m no better than anyone. But once I began living the Golden Rule in earnest, it became much more obvious how many others don’t. 

I’m continuing that resolution this year because in the end, it makes me feel better about myself and others. There are still many people I disagree with, but I find it’s more helpful to support what I do agree with, rather than condemn what I dislike. And personally, I feel it’s the right thing to do. I mean, seriously, who the hell am I to criticize anyone else? I’ve not reached perfection yet, far from it, but I’ve learned it’s better to promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate.

Come on people, let’s discuss issues like adults, not sling insults like children.

Friday, January 19, 2018

A Minor Surgery is a Big Pain in the Ass

Yesterday morning Herman and I drove into Riverside to the Kaiser Hospital and I had two warts removed from my anal canal.  It was one of the most degrading experiences of my life. They had me drop my pants and bend over a motorized chair. Then they tilted the chair so that I was head down with my ass in the air. They taped my asscheeks to the chair to keep them spread. It all felt like something out of an S&M porn movie. And while a nurse held a camera inside my anal canal, the doctor used surgical equipment to remove the warts. The procedure was both painful and uncomfortable, and took about twenty minutes. The whole time I felt what was left of my dignity slipping away.

The doctor told me there might be a little bleeding, and compared it with a minor nosebleed. Ha! Two hours later, after the local anesthesia had worn off, I felt like there was a giant dildo stuck inside me, and I was still bleeding. Every fifteen minutes I would go to the toilet and each time enough blood came out to turn the bowel dark red. That lasted until 8pm. Herman was demanding to take me back to the hospital, but the last thing I wanted was more doctors sticking their fingers and surgical equipment inside me. So I flatly refused.

Thankfully, by bedtime the pain had diminished and so had the bleeding.

Today I’m feeling no pain and there are only traces of blood in my stool. I hope I never have to experience that procedure again.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Poisoned by Greed

In the news this week, there are two American cities living on bottled water because America is literally being poisoned by greed. It’s as simple as that. Men and women who already have millions are doing anything—no matter the human or environmental cost—to become even richer. The are hoarding immense fortunes rather than reinvesting in the society that made them rich.

The one percent are buying politicians, poisoning our air, water, land, and sea so that they can own yet another mansion and million-dollar yacht in Palm Beach to match the one they own in Martha’s Vineyard, which matches the one they own in the South of France. It doesn’t seem to matter to them how many people struggle in poverty, nor how many people they injure or kill, nor how badly they pollute the earth for future generations. Their single goal is corporate profits so that they and their families can become one of the privileged few.

I’m not pointing fingers at any religion or political party because this pandemic of greed affects everyone. It is greed—the idea of putting your needs above everyone else. The attitude of: I’ve got mine so fuck all the others. How many people have to die of gun violence before gun manufactures put human lives before their corporate profits? How many people have to starve before congress is forced to spend less on wars and more on the welfare of the nation? How many people have to be poisoned before the rich are shamed into caring?

So the question is, how can we convince these one-percenters that gathering riches at the detriment of others is shameful? How do we convince them that raising the standard of living for everyone will make their lives more fulfilling? An image comes to mind: Jimmy Carter helping to build housing for the needy. How do we make him a poster child for what is honorable and moral, and make it stick.

How can we as a nation convince people, all people, to put the good of society above their own needs, compassion above greed?

I don’t have the answer to those questions. But I do know that it is possible to insure everyone in America lives above the poverty line, that no child goes hungry, that all people have a shot at a decent education and a fulfilling career that allows a comfortable standard of life. Call me a socialist if you must, and I will proudly wear that badge of honor, because I believe that nobody can truly hold their head high when so many people are struggling to survive day to day.

From what I see, there is a cancer consuming our nation, and its name is greed.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Book Review: Boy Erased, a Memoir by Garrard Conley

This was not a book I picked to read, as I’m not interested in reading about anything as grotesque as conversion therapy. It was selected by my book club.

It’s a story about a gay son of a Baptist minister who got outed to his parents. They placed him in a conversion therapy camp to “cure” him, and things didn’t go well for the young man.

Although the prose is extremely well written, I found the pacing and content numbingly boring. What I did find interesting was the total Christian brainwashing that the author had suffered as a young man. I find it both horrifying and amazing that, in this age of science, people still take the bible literally. Boy Erased, in my opinion, is a book of sadness. A story of people who rebuff nature to pursue a myth.

This book reinforced every negative stereotype I have of organized religion and modern-day Christians.  

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Surviving Immortality Cover Art

This morning Dreamspinner Press emailed me the final version of cover art from my upcoming novel, Surviving Immortality. To me, it’s perfect because it looks like a young man with the weight of the world on his shoulders, and darkness in every direction, yet there are glimmers of light here and there to reach out to.

Many thanks to artist, Anna Sikorska, for her keen insight into the main character and her ability to portray that idea.