Another Busy Week

Hello and happy Friday! I have been a little bit low mood this past week, maybe from just being so busy and maybe from the transition from hot and humid to gloomy and rainy. (I haven’t seen the sun in almost a week, now…) But I’ve been doing a lot of fun stuff so I thought I’d share a bit of that here today!

2017 DCFemTech Awards

This year, several of my friends and colleagues were recipients at the DCFemTech Awards, celebrating women in technology in the DC area and their work. It’s really inspiring to see so many women getting recognized and encouraged, and I am proud to work alongside them.

Great turnout from my coworkers to support Hareem!

I was also able to see some friends from college that I hadn’t seen in a while, as well as get an ~exclusive~ after-hours look at the Washington Post headquarters and newsroom!
Congrats again to Angela and thanks (again) for the tour!

Daybreaker: Music on the Brain

My first time attending a Daybreaker event was on my birthday back in December. I really loved the concept when I first read about it: early morning dance parties fueled by coffee, juice, and a love of dance rather than by sex, drugs, and alcohol, which aren’t my motivations for dancing.

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This month, Daybreaker partnered with the Kennedy Center, one of my favorite institutions in DC and of all time, to put on a great dance party on the terrace. It was crazy hot and humid but I had an awesome time dancing with my friend Megan at her first Daybreaker. Both of us saw friends we knew and had an amazing time sweating and dancing before a Friday work day.

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Megan and artist Yoko Shen, who performed a haunting piece to end the pre-work evening

InnoMAYtion Hackathon

On Saturday, I mentored a hackathon for the first time! I worked with Think of UsThink of Us to help think of ways to make their website for parenting teens in the foster system easier and more appealing for people to use. It was strange being one of the more experienced developers on a team, considering I’m still not very confident in my skills yet, but it was fun to work with that team and I learned a lot about the resources that are available to parenting teens and their caregivers.

Cat Yoga

My friend Jen’s birthday was yesterday and I wanted to do something with her before she went out of town for her birthday weekend. We had talked about DC’s cat cafe, Crumbs & Whiskers, before but I hadn’t gone. I figured that even if Jen had gone a bunch of times, as an avid cat lover, it would still be a treat for me to take her to enjoy cats and pastries.


Little did I know that Crumbs & Whiskers has recently been offering Sunday yoga sessions. WITH THE CATS. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life, even though I was frequently startled by how often I would find a cat where I was going to put my hand or foot. Those precious kitties were worth all the allergic sniffles I experienced, and I got a great yoga session out of it, too!

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I also enjoyed a delicious brunch with Jen afterwards, and just remain so grateful to still be friends with this great girl I met at college orientation.

EdibleDC Eat/Drink Local

I recently won tickets (thanks BrightestYoungThings!) to EdibleDC magazine’s Eat/Drink Local, where I was able to sample so many delicious foods from local vendors all over DC. From local oysters to truffled gnocchi to blue (!!) cashew milk and an entire pizza, my belly was delighted to sample so many delicious foods and drinks from the area. I have been known to give the DC food scene a really hard time, but it’s because I know there’s so much potential and I want it to be better! It’s gotten so much better over the past 2 years and I can’t wait to see how much more it grows.

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You know I’m a sucker for a photobooth, especially if one of my favorite companies – UrbanStems – is helping run it!

Foodelicious Night

Did you know that the DC mayor’s office has a special division dedicated to Asian Pacific-Island affairs? It’s true! MOAPIA (Mayor’s Office for Asian Pacific-Island Affairs) has been putting on events all month for AAPI Heritage Month and I was able to attend Foodelicious Night, where 3 of DC’s most famous Asian and Asian-American chefs performed cooking demonstrations for us and let us taste it after! We had:

  • Chef Erik Bruner-Yang, the phenom chef who runs Maketto, one of the trendiest and most critically-accalimed restaurants in all of DC, period, and cooked for us a delicious Cambodian curry
  • Chef Nobu Yamazaki, of the best sushi restaurant in DC, Sushi Taro, which recently won a Michelin star in DC’s first Michelin guide, and prepared for us 2 different sushi rolls
  • Chef Xiaolong Hu, from Panda Gourmet, the best Chinese restaurant in DC that is famous for being the go-to authentic spot for Chinese embassy employees who are craving real Northwestern Chinese food, prepared for us pork belly buns

This was a really fun event because the chefs all had a lot of personality and prepared really amazing foods for all of us. It was such an incredible way to celebrate Asian cuisine in DC and how easily you can recreate it at home!

Megan’s Birthday Dinner

Last night, I met up with Don, Megan, and several of their friends for a birthday dinner to celebrate Megan! (Fun fact: She actually has the same birthday as Jen!) It was a lot of fun seeing some of Megan’s friends that I haven’t seen in years, or since her wedding last year, or just since the last time we all hung out. (Please tell me it’s normal to have trouble hanging out with friends at a higher frequency as an adult, it is very frustrating to me…)

It was a lot of fun to see everyone and to see Megan twice in one 7-day period!

It’s Memorial Day weekend in the United States, and I’ll be spending it resting, cleaning, and maybe checking out some online sales!

How will you be spending the (long) weekend?
How was your week??

“You Would”

May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month.

To wrap up the month,  I wanted to share a little list of instances that I, as an Asian-American and/or as a Chinese-American* flinch in preparation of hearing the phrase: “you would“. This started a rather… lighthearted list. But as I wrote, I felt a lot of bitterness growing inside of me. I started writing this May 1. It’s May 19 and I’m straight up angry.

I want to make it clear that this is not meant to be taken in any way, exactly. But I hate flinching when I hear someone say “you would” and knowing that the rest of that sentence goes “… because you’re Asian“.

  1. Ordering an Asian/”Oriental”-inspired dish at an extremely un-Asian restaurant. I don’t think my Asian-ness is what makes Applebee’s Oriental chicken salad so delicious, it’s that yummy dressing. Less common (although unfortunately not unheard of) is teasing Italian-Americans for eating pasta or Mexican-Americans for eating burritos.

    Don’t try to deny me the not-very-Asian goodness of fried chicken on a salad.
    (Image: Applebees)
  2. Owning anything panda-related. Pandas are universally accepted as being adorable creatures; my being Asian has nothing to do with that. They have a very scientifically-proven-to-be-cute head-size-to-body-size ratio regardless of my ethnicity. Would I own fewer panda things if I wasn’t Chinese? Maybe. Are there some non-Asian people who own more panda things than some Asian people? Of course, pandas are adorable.
  3. Introducing someone to a group of Asian people. Yes, I have Asian friends. No, not all of my friends are Asian, but so what if they were? I don’t really see as many instances of people getting a hard time for having all white friends or all black friends or all Latino friends.
    That is, of course, unless they’re Asian and have all white/black/Latino friends. I don’t think that an Asian person having Asian friends is really comment-worthy, and yet…
  4. Telling someone I play piano. You know what, I will admit that I have a difficult time finding an Asian person who doesn’t and has never played piano. However, for all of the non-Asian people that also play piano, this really shouldn’t be as much of a “you would”, or WORSE, an “of course you would kind of situation.
  5. Bringing Asian cuisine leftovers for lunch. I don’t understand. You’re bringing leftovers, I’m bringing leftovers. You’re eating pasta, I’m eating fried rice. Your family made lasagna, mine went out and had noodles leftover. Why wouldn’t we? Yes, I would. I don’t understand the need to have to comment on this at all, we should both be allowed to bring fried rice or pasta or sandwiches for lunch without getting sass about it.

    Quinoa fried rice2
    Since you chose to needlessly comment on my lunch, I’m choosing to interpret that as envy that my fried rice smells way better than your sad sandwich.
  6. Watching Mulan. Sure, you can comment on my Disney obsession (it isn’t a problem, go away) but I don’t see why watching Mulan has to merit some sassy comment about me wanting to watch the only Asian Disney protagonist. Am I supposed to watch everything BUT Mulan? That doesn’t seem quite right to me. Never mind the multiple layers of feelings I have about Mulan, from how excited I was that my dreams of being a Disney face character became closer to reality when the movie was released to how disappointed I am that Mulan was designed to not be pretty so that she could pass off as a man in the movie.
  7. Bringing SPF 50 or higher to an outdoor event. It seems that it’s only socially acceptable to take sun protection seriously if you burn easily and/or if you are a pale redhead with freckles. So if I don’t burn within 10 minutes, my dedication to SPF is a joke and due to my Asian-ness? While it may have been my Chinese family that initially influenced me to not let myself get severely tanned every summer, any dermatologist or cosmetician can tell you that sun protection is really important. Skin cancer is no joke, and if you’re going to be so vain as to do your makeup before heading to beach, I’d recommend sunscreen so that your beauty upkeep doesn’t get more difficult as you get older.

    Stay away from the sun: Chinese beachgoers wearing body suits and protective head masks, dubbed 'face-kinis' by Chinese netizens, on a crowded public beach in Qingdao, northeast China's Shandong province
    I could be wearing a face-kini, but I don’t.
  8. Taking photos of my food. I try not to do this very often, because I personally find the practice to be obnoxious. Just because there is an entire blog dedicated to this embarrassment, it doesn’t mean that I do it because I’m Asian or that it warrants comment because I am Asian. Look around, there are people of all races and creeds photographing their food. I often don’t even get to share it, I just have a hard time remember what I ate somewhere.

    From Wong Fu Productions’s “Food Pic War”
  9. Speaking Chinese to my parents on the phone. Don’t. You. Dare. People speak to their parents in their parents’ native language. Or in a language that they and their parents learned and agreed to speak to each other. It is not your place to judge or joke because I’m Chinese that I speak Chinese to my parents. I don’t and wouldn’t give you hard time about the fact that you don’t know any other language but English, or that your parents wish you could speak Portuguese to them or your grandparents but you can’t.

*Sometimes, these situations arise specifically because I’m Chinese. Sometimes, the microaggressions happen because someone can barely be bothered to see past my being Asian, let alone that I’m Chinese.

…I am a little more defensive in this post than I normally am in my blogs.

Because after all this time, I am really tired of defending myself over these really… LITTLE THINGS. I can’t even list any more because I started getting pretty upset thinking about all the times that people give me a hard time for… being Asian-American?

I think the worst is when this comes from other Asian-Americans, though. It’ll come from a “whitewashed” friend, who laughs at the fact that I’m on the executive board for the Asian American Student Union or that I carry my sunbrella outside even after I’ve come home from China.

I’m really tired of these microaggressions in the form of the phrase “you would“. It is one of the more offensive ones to me. It carries with it the stench of someone who thinks that they’re able to put me neatly into their “Asian person” box. That these behaviors, while often are not specific to Asians or Asian-Americans, make me an other from you. Or, as I get the impression from my Asian friends who commit these microaggressions, or they will outright tell me, that I embarrass you.

I am sorry that you are ashamed of certain qualities that are associated with Asians. It happens to me, as well. I’ll shake my head seeing someone wearing one of these (because I know that behind that visor is a middle-aged Asian woman; I have not been wrong yet):

But I don’t deserve to be given a hard time about these things.

I don’t deserve to want to order some Asian-inspired dish at a very un-Asian restaurant and deny myself the joy (or the hard lesson to learn, in some cases) of ordering orange chicken at a cowboy-themed restaurant.

I don’t deserve to say no to buying a panda plushie because I know you’ll be there, doing that “of course you would” exhalation through your nose, which you are looking down at me.

I don’t deserve to get nervous about introducing someone to my friends, stopping to count and oh crap, did I accidentally hang out with only Asian people today? and having my mind race about the kind of impression you have of me because God forbid my friends look a little more like me than the average student at our school.

I don’t deserve to be embarrassed about spending years learning piano, an instrument I asked my parents to let me learn because I loved it and before I realized that almost every single one of my other Asian friends was already learning it or picking it up at the same time.

I don’t deserve to get laughed at in a school cafeteria, a rough place as it stands, for not having this de facto standard school lunch of a sandwich, a bag of chips, and a Capri Sun, which was apparently the North Face, leggings, and Uggs of grade school. I am grateful that I have a lunch to bring, I am grateful that my parents made me a delicious dinner and that there was so much I could bring it in for lunch the next day. I don’t deserve to be pushing that gratitude aside for superficial concerns like having a “cool” lunch.

I don’t deserve to be forced to suppress my love for Mulan, my dream of becoming a face character, my excitement at being represented in a Disney animated movie, that Mulan is considered a Disney princess even though she’s not really a princess. I will not stand here and tell you that she is mine more than she is yours, but you cannot sit there and tell me that she cannot be mine as well as yours because that is simply wrong.

I don’t deserve to feel awkward about not wanting to get sunburned. I know the facts about sun damage. It’s serious business and melanoma is no joke. You spend a lot of time on your face, so you probably know what the effects of sun damage are as far as aging. But unless I’m a ginger (and I take issue with how you’re treating our redheaded friends), and I don’t immediately get painfully burned in the sun, I should just be okay with getting burned? You burned sitting on a rooftop bar; I don’t think I’m ridiculous for wearing sunscreen.

I don’t deserve to have my race brought up when I take photos of my food. I also don’t deserve to hear my race being used as an insult if you decide to, in one fell swoop, laugh at the expense of a non-Asian friend who is also photographing his/her food. My ethnicity is not the punchline to this joke.

I. Do not. Deserve. To believe it’s necessary to speak to my parents in English when they’re speaking to me in Chinese. To speak Mandarin in hushed, embarrassed tones while covering my mouth so as to reduce the possibility that my communicating with my parents might trigger some kind of response from other people.

I don’t deserve to flinch and expect to hear you say “you would” to any of these things.