My parents made my life EZpass


Mom: Geez, toll is expensive!

Dad: Yeah, I know! We could have taken Fanny’s car…! That way, it would be free!

Me: Um, Dad, using my EZpass does not make it free…

Dad: Yeah, I know.”

Years ago when I was a mischievous little high-school tween, I used to catch the bus to go home. Clad in one of my usual “goth” outfits and over-sized headphones, I would try to enjoy my ride while packed in with the other students. Sometimes, along my route home, I got a snack from a fast food restaurant or a convenience store. Eventually, the bus took me to my middle class neighborhood where I would walk through a scenic block to get to my house. During that time, worries of money never crossed my mind. Now, I wonder how much that entire trip cost me? Correction, how much did that trip cost my parents? For me, the entire trip was free, just like my EZpass for my dad. When we were younger and living the carefree adolescent life, money, food, and other types of sustenance was never an issue because our parents took care of us. From shampoo, orange juice, living space, and trip to school, my parents made sure I never had to even think about money.All I had to do was go to school and go home. Life was so simple.

Now, as a 9-5 office worker, nonstop coffee guzzler, & main breadwinner, I can relate to and fully appreciate my, sometimes, annoying parents. As the we grow up, the burden of transforming me and my brother into capable and independent adults slowly slowly diminishes for my parents. Watching the stress and anxiety slowly melt away from them each day motivates me to keep on living a happy and adventurous life. Nowadays, my parents can be so silly around us. Especially my dad!


One step at a time…

Recently, I’ve found myself thinking about my “true calling.” You know, your personal mission in life. At 23-years-old, I do not have a single clue of my so-called personal mission in life. 

We tend to go with the flow or follow the advice of others, including myself. Without realizing it, I have reach a certain point in my life where I wonder if this is where I want to be. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to be where I am, living, laughing, enjoying every moment and event. The question is: do I want to be here? Have I found my true calling?

These thoughts have been keeping me up late at night. I can’t sleep without forming a good answer and solution for myself.

Then, one day, while enjoying a bowl of red bean soup, I realized that I am where I am because I let it happen, naturally and unwarily (just like I let myself enjoy a nice bowl of red bean soup). I simply cannot realize what I want and where I want to be, like I chose my major in college. To be happy or to achieve happiness, I may have to go through a journey of adventurous attempts and bolder ideas. I think it’s more maintaining a state of happiness than to simply select or realize a “true calling.” As long as I can smile each day, then I know that I’m completing my personal mission. 🙂

My mom… holding her 23-year-old daughter’s hand in public

On a sunny day, My mom and I decide to go to Chinatown to go grocery shopping. Of course, my dad was also dragged along. Who else was going to drive? I was rather excited that I was able to sit in my dad’s old Chevy van. I haven’t been driven by my dad for a long time ever since I purchased my own car. As my dad journey to Chinatown with one hand on the steering wheel and a cigarette on the left, I watched the sun travel with the highway of I95. Eventually, we reached the hustle and bustle of Philadelphia Chinatown. I immediately smell the fish from the market and hear excited chitchat in Cantonese dialect. The moment I step out of the car, my mom grabs for my 23-year-old hand. To the people around us, it might look odd that a full-grown Chinese woman is holding hands with her mother. Doesn’t matter where we are, doesn’t matter who’s around us, my mom just adores holding my hands.

The warmth and smooth texture of her hands are bliss… until we run into my manager. -___-

Rule to the fitness bandwagon: NEVER eat foods that you do not like

I think the most valuable lesson I’ve learned throughout my life in regards to fitness and health is to eat what I enjoy. I have fallen off the fitness bandwagon multiple times and one of the leading reasons is that I ate foods that I simply did not enjoy. This list includes plain oatmeal, plain yogurt, certain types of salads, black coffee, etc. I can go on, & on. For a long time, I never thought that simple alterations can make a complete difference in not-so-enjoyable foods. For example? I used to force myself to eat mixed greens with a drizzle of olive oil simply because it is good for me. Eventually, I stopped and lost all hope in lettuce and olive oil. Until, only recently, my friend introduced me to balsamic vinegar. Just a couple of drops of this stuff in the olive oil spring mix turned my taste buds around! I love it so much that I try not to eat too much of it in fear that I may lose my fondness of the recipe. I also used to hate carrots until I added peanut butter to the little orange sticks prior to munching.

You might ask me “well, Fanny, aren’t you adding more calories to these supposedly healthy foods?” The answer is yes, yes I am. But what is a little bit of balsamic vinegar if it gets me to eat my greens? What is a little bit of peanut butter if it gets me my vitamin A? Alterations to recipes and foods should be beneficial, not counterproductive. Instead of adding sugary dressings, I chose balsamic vinegar. Instead of ranch sauce, I chose peanut butter. These are only little example of beneficial alterations. My equation to healthy eating? Generic plain healthy recipe + beneficial alteration = WIN.

Now, you’ll probably ask “Fanny, doesn’t it take a ton of time to figure out WIN foods for myself?” My answer is yes, yes it will. Taste buds change all the time; therefore, figuring out what you enjoy eating will be a lifelong adventure. We spend so much time searching for schools, jobs, and love… why is it any different with food? (That is my question to you) You should always give your body the best, quality AND taste. If the food is not tasty, it is not worth it. Think of your body as your car, would you fill your car with low quality gas? You’ll just end up messing up your car (obviously, I’m not a car kinda gal…)

I found myself sticking to my fitness lifestyle when I eat what I enjoy. That does NOT mean you should eat cheesesteaks, french fries, pizza, etc.  Healthy foods that are delicious are just as abundant as unhealthy foods. Believe me. It just takes time to find those foods. Remember…. generic plain healthy recipe + beneficial alteration = WIN.

Confirmation that my Asian Parents actually did not find me in the garbage can

Young and impressionable, I was raised by eccentric parents to follow a specific path: go to school, get a job, get married to a man, have 2 kids, and retire comfortably. This is the specific path that my parents believe in (and fight for). I can understand their reasons for believing in this path. Hell, they immigrated all the way from China to America for a “better life”! They simply need something to believe in.

I have no doubts that this path will bring happiness in the forms of social acceptance, financial stability, family comfort, personal intellect, and much more. I’m not saying that it’s the wrong path. Not at all. I just wish they would have introduced me to different paths. Don’t get me wrong, my parents are pretty open-minded (by Asian standards). They respect and value my choices; however, they also know how to alter my choices in a subliminal and passive level. My parents won’t straight up tell me “no, that’s a bad choice” or “you should probably reconsider.” They know me so well that they are able to manipulate me to cater to their fancies. In the end, I’m following their path again.

Like almost every typical asian child, I was raised to learn how to play the piano, meticulously do my homework after school, dress to impress, look down upon “lesser” or “inferior” human beings, be compared to other robotic asian children, get scholarships, go to harvard, become a doctor slash engineer slash lawyer. Some of the items on this list, I have followed or achieved. Some, I simply refused to even acknowledge. I’m sure my parents meant well. Otherwise, they could’ve just thrown me in a garbage can and walked away. I just wish that they would’ve given me other options, instead of turning me into another little asian robot. Couldn’t they just tell me to start my own business or, even better, become a rock star?


waiting for my constant supply of unexpressed feelings pop like a balloon

Is it dishonest to constantly tell myself to “smile!” for every situation? Even if the current situation may piss me off or make me sad?

Before the constant “smile” reminder, I threw tantrums for every little thing that pissed me off and I cried for every event that made me sad. Soon enough, I began to scare away some of my closest and dearest friends. My family never thought I could be so inconsiderate. I remember telling my dad that he was annoying, always nagging, about my personal life. I remember pushing my best friend away by screaming all types of foul drunken insults to her.

Before, I was never ashamed of expressing my hopes, dreams, desires, needs, and fears. If I liked a boy, hated a part of my body, or felt sad for a certain reason, I would tell my best friends. Hell, I didn’t have a problem expressing myself to new people! I would even express in great details. Nowadays, I feel like people either do not care or will judge me.

I can’t say what was the final push for me to become this “smiling” creature for every known situation but I’ve definitely found it more difficult to express myself, unguardedly, to other people. Some nights, I force myself to think of events and situations that bother me and I try to cry – but not a tear touches my pillows, not one! Have I become so guarded, that I can’t figure out what truly makes me unhappy? Don’t get me wrong – I find it pretty easy to complain and bitch about work or minor personal struggles. But when it comes to my fears, hopes, desires, and needs, I am unable to wholeheartedly express my thoughts to others. Just like a balloon, all of the unexpressed feelings that I am unable to let out will POP! Will I finally lose it? Or spew so much insults and inner thoughts that all of the people I love will run away and never come back?

I’m slowly trying to regain the confidence of expressing myself to others. I won’t lie to you but it’s truly been a challenge to do so. On one event, I purposely numbed myself with alcohol before I “let go.” Midway during my “expression,” the people around me begin to give me advice, opinions, and ask questions. I couldn’t handle some of the judgemental remarks so I immediately stop and change the subject. Have I become so guarded that even alcohol will not save me? Don’t ask me what the subject was – I’m way to guarded to let you know. I wish I could. I truly do.


Taking pictures of things that make me smile

 [my Domo make-up bag]

[Dark Chocolate Hershey’s Kiss]

[Mr. Garrison: “Don’t forget, kids, there’s no such thing as a stupid questions… just stupid people.”]

[Cousin’s little baby girl, Cecelia, wearing a monster hat (note: I didn’t take this picture)]

More to come…

Who says television and Irene is a complete waste of time and money?

Besides the $7 billion worth of damages that resulted from Hurricane Irene, most American families can agree that Irene has  done one good deed: bring us closer together. For many people, I guess force is better applied.  

On a Saturday night, I typically cuddle next to my mom and watch Chinese dramas – that was 10 years ago. The current 22-year-old “me” loves to prowl the bars, restaurants, streets, and local hot spots of various states on a the weekend. These were exactly my plans for last weekend until Elvis Duran, my favorite radio host, informed me of Irene. Unlike some of my unfortunate coworkers, I did not experience any power outages at home. However, I also knew that a majority of the bars, restaurants, and stores in Philadelphia would not be open or had early closing hours. I learned this fact the hard way when me and a friend decided to go to the mall on Saturday only to be informed by the mall’s  megaphones that they would be closing in 20 minutes. For safety precautions, I went back home, sat around for an hour trying to decide on something to do until my mom asked me if I wanted to join her in her room and watch a new drama. I accepted her invitation by changing into my PJs, making a steaming cup of hazelnut hot chocolate, and cuddling next to her in bed. Within the 5 hours, we talked, watched TV, enjoyed each others company, and snacked together. Eventually, I watched my mom slowly fall asleep. That night, I realized that I will always be the same little girl from 10 years ago to my mom no matter how old I am. Now, it kind of makes sense why she still tries to hold my hand when we walk around in public. I still think it’s embarassing but at least I can finally see it her way. I wonder if the same concept applies to my dad…

Even without power outages at home, I was able to unintentionally spend quality time with my family. I can only imagine how much closer the families that went through power outages in their homes may have gotten.

Another bonus: Irene definitely saved my wallet.


Rice and salt as indicators of experience

My parents love to use old Chinese proverbs to prove a point.

I don’t remember exactly what my parents were lecturing me about, but I definitely remember that they were trying to prove that I will always be significantly less experienced in comparison to them. The discussion happened over the dinner table, a typical pastime: feeding the kids with exhaustive lectures and delicious dishes at the same time. This way, we aren’t inclined to run off. Sometimes, my parents can be pretty brilliant. At one point, I decided to be a smartass and disagree with my dad. As usual, he would go off about his experiences and tell me that I still have much to learn. Before you know it, my mom would chime in (like they’ve planned the whole act) and spit out an old Chinese proverb. “I have eaten more salt in my life than you have eaten rice” is the one that really sticks to me. When I really think about it, they’re probably right. My parents have endured 30 or more years worth of crap in their lives when compared to me and my brother. That’s a lot of crap and a lot of salt!


Two key ingredients for happiness:
1. fitness
2. fullness

In addition to being physically fit and full, it is equally important to be mentally fit and full. Personally, I already feel pretty happy when my body is active and my belly is full of good food. Therefore, it’s definitely a bonus when my mind is active and my life is full of good people.

Mental note to keep in mind (once in a while, we need to be reminded of simple facts): “Smile, breathe, & go slowly.” –