Blogging for me, unlike coffee, is not a routined delight. Instead, the activity takes on an entire life of its own. I will go years without blogging, which is not an indicator of how much I actually write during those quiet times. The thing I love about the internet is this medium became my archive of inked thoughts. I have entries that are over a decade old here! When the urge arrives, it is a welcomed need to outwardly pen my thoughts.
When it steeps long enough
It takes time to process the meetings, reunions and feelings I had in Viet Nam. I wrote down my initial impressions while I was in the country. But, only with enough steeping time, words once unknown begin to express. And the moments where words are useless, images come to play. Then when that fails, we have music. We are endowed with all kinds of senses to help us communicate. Above all this is also silence in the darkness: what do we feel reflecting in that kind of silo?
Ten years is not a long time, it happens really in the cliched term: a blink of an eye. And in seeing it that way, it explains how change could be minuscule and almost imperceptible. However, regardless of whether our situation changed, ten years can will line faces, thin our hair, thicken our laughter and tears- time, because it is forward-moving, will inevitably age us. So in some ways, having a perceivable change in our life is welcomed. Having positive change to balance the inescapable weight of time is welcomed.
For most of these families, the changes are very minor. Although most change leans toward the positive, the overall concern is not easily assuaged. Who will take care of him or her when we pass? What will become of them? Is there anything else I can do? These questions are now truly more emphatically highlighted, because the inevitable Death is much closer to come knocking after a passing of a decade.
This is a montage of now and then.
Last Night in Saigon
It starts with one, with me, little persistent me, but it ends with all of us, the solidarity us. As my journey comes to an end in Viet Nam, my heart jingles a bit faster because of excitement. I have no delusions of grandeur for the film's future. What I have is hope, that even if it changes one mind, one life, then all the work, tears, time, love and energy are worth it.
And those of you in the past wks that helped via by sharing, posting, reposting and liking like crazy (almost too incessant for me irene, matty, tulie, cindy, brie to name a handful ❤️), or even those that had every intent, but did nothing (don't worry I won't call you out), I am still grateful, because the synergy is felt. I am alone in Saigon right now, but I never feel or felt lonely or alone during this endeavor.
I have not shared any of my own shots in the last wks, so I edited together a brief video. Enjoy and thank you everyone for enduring and supporting our film posts.
it is all I know
She speaks terse lines. They sound rehearsed. That does not mean they are not genuine. I believe that the emotions run very deep and they are very real. The only way in which we communicate, in language, some times fail to express what goes on deeper. Not everyone can explicitly describe what it is like to have to take care of one’s own son for the rest of their lives all the while wondering who will take care of him for the rest of his life.
My words: It’s shit, just shit.
So, just let me sit here with you and listen to your words, breaths and your expressions. This is all I can offer you. As I stare at you, I know there is nothing I can do. I cannot relieve you of your burden. I can only sit here and have you talk at me and maybe let you get something off your chest. I know it is only temporary. But, at least in this moment, you are not alone and I am your community.
So from my deep within me heart, I wish everyone is spending xmas with the people they love.
From someone who is spending Christmas on their own doing what they love in the only way they know how. And to my loved ones, I think of you often and wish you a beautiful xmas and new year.
In the wake of what happened in Orlando, there weren’t any immediate words of clarity or understanding that came to mind, most came like WTF, especially since the barrage of BBC and AJE notifications lit my phone in the Sunday early hours. I couldn’t decipher if I was dreaming, exhausted from being up or actually awake. When the reality sunk in, I was disheartened.
In the last few years, the gay community took many strides toward gay rights. Unlike some of my more grey-haired handsome and beautiful friends, I didn’t grow up during the stonewall-hankerchief years or the stigma-AIDS years; I grew up with gay marriage as the fight and being out is my human right. Those historical fights gave me the tools to break down my own closet door, and I am ever grateful for those tools. In my 20s, the community also help shaped my identity, my belief in people’s differences and the beauty within that makes us all unicorns. I was taught a lot of these lessons on my way to the dance floor, on the dance floor or after the dance floor: to embrace every fiber of my being and love every moment of my life, even the hard ones.
It is on that floor that I kissed the rain and raised my hands with my community, to feel and have a solid unit, to be wholesome and present. This is who we are. So, on Sunday, though my spirits were low, I headed to Castro and Market on my own to be with my community. I don’t know any of the victims, but clearly I could be any them, yesterday, today or tomorrow. And on Sunday, that was the only thing I could DO, so I did. I stood there with a grey-haired gentleman for a few hours and then we went to a gay bar and had a drink. I don’t know his name, but he was family. We were safe with one another.
When a safe space gets destroyed by violence, I think of a recent hashtag, I would like to borrow from our black sisters and brothers. #gaylivesmatter
Besides regulation and policy-ing, I am reminded of Harvey Milk after knowing more about the shooter, let’s break down every closet door. When all people see one another as equals, then at that point we can hash all lives matter. But, for now, for the gay community, #gaylivesmatter and I will make sure I will dance my ass off in remembrance of these innocent lives taken.
nothing is ever quite as it seems
2016 barely looks like it started, yet we are almost halfway done. With the time that passed, what a tremendous year it has already been— a lot floating on my mind, but the themes of lost and being present are at the forefront.
A few days and over a decade ago (April 19, 2005), my grandmother left my life to hopefully, grace upon something new and amazing. Her departure left me feeling very shattered, hollow and incomplete. They were feelings I was not accustomed to as my gait in life usually felt full, confident and unafraid, sometimes a little too cool. Yet, I could not shield myself from the inevitable crumbling of my world, as my anchor was no longer palpable. At the time, I did not understand that lost could be so unbearable and the dealing with lost never quite ends. It changes and evolves and the sharp pang may not be as abrupt as when it was fresh, but the hurt will always be present like the way old bones can feel the storms coming. And this time every year, it is always a torrential storm and I get a good cry, the kind that let’s me know that my stomach muscles exist.
I observe this day as a reminder for me to be present as best as I can so when relationships are gone, I would have very little regret and hopefully have said all I needed and wanted. It also serves as remembrance for how limitless love can be in the set time endowed upon us on this earth. With my grandma, I was tireless in my efforts to be present:
I answer her calls when I see them; I always returned her calls when I missed them; I said yes more often than no without thinking; I drove 800 miles roundtrip to see her whenever I could no matter how fatigued I was; I laughed (and still do) replaying her comments like how “cool" my mini cooper was (back in 2003); I thought about her daily; I loved the way she said my name with an emphasis on the second syllable like I was in trouble.
I could go on and on because it was indeed limitless. Our time was a gift. And in this already anomalous year, I am more grateful about this remembrance reminding me to be present, because it really is the only way to live life and only way to endure lost.
For the rest of the year, I will persist in being vulnerable enough to be ever present. That may mean I will make a lot of mistakes in attempting, because being open to vulnerability is always easier sounding than behaving and there are no clear directions— but this is what I am compelled to do.
some moments will be hard
When I realized I wanted to be a filmmaker, I allowed my passion to pervade every part of my being. It is not only because I love stories. That is a major part, but there is another selfish reason: I love to feel everything and I try to capture the feelings, sometimes to feel them over and over again or just to hold on until I am ready to let go. I do not mind that I am overwhelmed by contradicting emotions that I cannot always articulate. Sometimes feeling them is the beginning of something inexplicably beautiful. Love does not come without disappointments and hardships. A lot of my career encompasses learning from them in order to be a better filmmaker— a better person.
Tonight my hardship is internal and that happens: I'm preparing to get ready to capture the scenes of those being potentially swept by Ed Lee's 72 hr mandate on cleaning up the Division Street encampments of San Francisco's homeless. This particular situation does not have an easy solution, since we don't have in place within the city's system to cater to all the different homeless' needs. I personally do not have a political solution to a tent city nor is the purpose of this blog to propose one.
From where I stand:
I love San Francisco. I never hesitate saying this. We are a symbolic and actionable city- salvation for immigrants, asylum for the sick and discriminated, embracing diversity and openness, setting trends for innovation, we inspire beauty and love, etc. But, not for a moment do I embrace this city without forgetting its underbelly: the economic stratification, the gentrification that causes a homogenized community, the homeless, the growing common disrespect for others, etc. When our city workers "clean up" the streets, I hope they treat the homeless with dignity and respect. It is absolutely WRONG to take away someone's home and treat them and it like trash. I hope I see the city treat the homeless with respect during this sweep, because that's the side I'm on. I'm on the side where we treat our fellow humans as fellows and nothing less…in this city which I love. Although I'm fully aware that love can be disappointing, but as with any love there is faith that the right thing could happen. And that's a heart-break worth taking.
some news media perspectives:
The new year gives impetus to reflection and inspires the desires for change. For myself a part of this reflection, there is a lookback to the year just passed. What have I done? What did I miss? What would I like to do more of? What did I lose? Gain? Some of these answers are not so easy nor black and white, even after steeping them for prolonged periods of time. There will be particular break out reflections blogged later.
A big living philosophy for 2015 was: I did a lot of things like everybody else, but like no one else. Getting married fell under that umbrella. I got married on our own terms and absolutely in our own way. That's exciting- that venture of making it personal is exhilarating. Some of the on-going goals are rather quotidian in nature, but personalization, makes all the difference. Sometimes I worry when the goal is common, because it is important to me that I am not going through the motions of conformity without thinking about it first. At the end of the day, doesn't everyone just want to be happy and live a fulfilling life? I believe that is an unavoidable, shared, human condition. Yes, there will be variance and differences in how those things are achieved and how they are defined, but there will be a handful of similarities. So, 2016 will be a year to continue redefining and living life as I wish and see fit in all endeavors, as well as applying this to the life I share with my partner.
What are my new resolutions for this year? In no particular order:
- Get a podcast off the ground. Get at least two patents filed. Get the play off the ground. Move. Addition(s) to our small family. To not feel shame, when I do like everybody else, like no one else.
What are my on-going ones? In no particular order:
- Shoot more. Be creative continuously. Work tirelessly happily. Read as often if not more. Goto more theater shows. Continue to volunteer. Raise more funds, meet more investors for Insatiable. Spend more wkends just watching indie films. Write more often.
What I learned...
What I learned in my 20s -that I’m grateful for in my 30s.
“In your 60s, you’re going to accept you don’t know everything. In your 50s, you’ve lived more than half your life and you should have wisdom nuggets to divulge. In your 40s, you should be doing everything you didn’t in your 30s. In your 30s, you should be taking action and not only talk. In your 20s, you don’t know anything, so listen, look pretty, strike a pose and shut up- it’s not quite your turn yet.”
You all know I’m a talkative one, but in front of people more experienced than myself, silence does reign more than senseless chatter.
For my young friends, learn to live a happy life and not simply be alive, there’s a helluva more of it.
For my mature friends, thank you for all the lessons you’ve divulged to make mine way easier.
For my contemporaries and travel mates, thank you for holding my hand in this journey.
Finally a dream
I woke up this morning and it swept my lashes closed and took me for a ride. It kept my dreams clinging to the sheets.
Soon after, I realized I am the conductor of these wild moving frames and they are real. They conjured images from my well of things to do in life. They are straight out of the films I will shoot, life I will live, the people I will encounter, faces I will love, places I will go to and dream of, the family I will create and the life I will make.
Thank you for the sweetest surrender- it's the one cup of java that will keep me alive and awake, through the malaise of those that surrounds me.
Ode to old lovers
a new, naked conversation outside a familiar sidewalk cafe without inhibitions that last for three hours and we depart with a friendly hug. no more. or maybe i will send an email for more. who knows.
a cat with extraordinary human essence guards the counter as her own. she sprawls out and puts her paws on my books. she meows as i continue to peruse the aisles of used literature.
jean cocteau's "the white paper." couldn't resist the power of well travelled books. it's been to Luxembourg, an overlooked country between belgium and germany. (il y a un billet de transfert dans le livre.) it's wonderful to know it stopped by other countries and hands before arriving to me in san francisco.
cold hands moving gently, but firmly massaging out the tensions within my neck. an hour later, a wonderfully, light haircut ensues; a delusional burden lifted and my stride is psychologically lighter. i wipe away dry tears.
sidewalks do not seem to end and the journey never exhausts me. a refreshing and moving picture pervades my ears with bombardments of french, italian, hebrew, arabic, cantonese, hokien, malay, russian. my ears understand nothing, but my senses understand it all. the commonality is obvious. we see one another.
the moon peeks out from underneath the fog's persistent misty tears. it watches with a clever eye, not revealing when it's looking and mark twain is right. some of my coldest moments are summer nights spent in san francisco.