Sunday, July 27, 2014

What to do with the nude?

This summer has been all about moving, sorting and settling. Part of why we moved to a house is to have enough space for Dzung's mom to live with us. In Charlotte, North Carolina, she packed up her stuff, gave away a lot of it, and sold the house she has lived in for almost 30 years. The plan is for her to have a home base here in Vancouver, with the freedom to spend chunks of time in the States with Dzung's sister and their extend family.

Just this Friday, her things arrived. It's been exciting to unpack everything and incorporate them into the house, but it's also been overwhelming. Although she gave away most of it, we still ended up with lots of things. Like for example, now we have 10 plates to specifically serve corn on the cob with, 6 ice cream goblets, a set of crystal tumblers, and enough decorative serving platters to throw a party for 50 people. We luckily to have acquired these household items so quickly after moving into our new home, but it's been a little heady going from only having 6 bowls to now having over 30 bowls in various sizes that all match.  

Part of the acquisition are some framed art pieces. Dzung's parents avidly collected contemporary Vietnamese art. There was some debate about trying to keep the collection together, but we would have needed 3000 plus sq ft to house all the artwork. Instead, the collection has been split between family in St. Louis, Baltimore and here in Vancouver. Here are some of the pieces below:

So this is the infamous nude that displayed prominently in the formal living room at the house in Charlotte. I remember the first time I visited back in 2006, I saw the painting and thought, "Okay, they aren't your typical Asian family."  Mom said that Ylan (Dzung's sister) always wanted the painting moved to a more private part of the house, especially when they had visiting Buddhist monastics at the house, but Dad never budged. Ylan definitely didn't want this piece when we were separating the collection. I actually really like it, but now that it's pshyically here, my inner prune has surfaced. We decided it would be best to have it in our bedroom, but I'm not sure. Where would you display a nude in your house or would you even buy a nude?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Taking snapshots...

I know I'm super late to the party, but I'm really digging Instagram. It's fun to take little snapshots of my day and share it with others. I also love seeing what my friends and family are experiencing in the moment. Here are some highlights.

Sharing poetry has reawaken my love of poetry. I remember being a morose 16-year-old in love with Victorian poetry, spending hours in dark corners reading about things so far removed from my daily life but the feelings evoked so matched my own emotions. In university, my poetry taste become more contemporary and I also wrote pages and pages of the stuff. But somewhere along the way, I just stopped reading it. What's that about? Dzung seems to think that poetry speaks to the inner life and emotional development of adolescent, so it's only natural that emo-teens are drawn to poetry.

The above is a post from my brother's Instagram. He's such a hipster, but I love him anyways.

More poetry.

This is from a teaching buddy (hopefully she doesn't mind that I'm posting about her Instagram). I'm amazed at the images she captures of Bella Colla, which is about 1000km northeast of Vancouver. I mean look at that picture, it's so natural. I definitely want to visit there one day.

This last one was taken from my sister's account, she likes to share pictures of herself being creepy. you have an Instagram...if so add me!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

If I were a parent...

Part of my job is to collaborate with parents to better support their kids at school. Not having kids of my own, makes this a delicate balance of being humble and having the conviction to share best practices (based on research, training, and experience).

In the past 7 months, I have read so many parenting books and books about youth that I feel like Dzung and I are over-prepared for kids of our own (if and when that ever happens).

Here is a sampling of some worthwhile reads:

Becoming Attached is a great primer on attachment theory and a good read if you never taken psychology 101 or child development classes. Karen highlights all the players in this field; such as Levy, Bowlby, Klein, Harlow, Ainsworth, and Main. Major studies that shed light on the bond between parent and child are discussed, like two-year-old goes to hospital, the strange situation, cloth monkey mother, etc. This is definitely a nerdy read, but helps frame the importance of healthy first attachments.

I love Dan Siegel. I've seen him talk and have read several of his books. Parenting from the Inside Out is a very practical and hopeful read. Siegel shares that even if you didn't have the best childhood and you received ambivalent or disorganized parenting, you can break the cycle of bad parenting and not only be a better parent to your children but also heal your own inner child in the process. I actually used the book to create parenting workshops that were well received.

This book just came out last month. Dzung has worked with Dr. Kang and I've heard her speak on motivational interviewing. This is a good alternative to tiger parenting and is a direct response to Amy Chau's book on the matter. I like what Dr. Kang has to say, but it's a hard sell in today's cultural milieu of success, achievement, and do do do.

If you haven't seen Brene Brown's TED talk, you definitely should, especially if, like me, you have type A perfectionist tendencies and lots of shame around failing. I love this from the book, "Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves."

Any recommendations for other good parenting books?


Sunday, May 4, 2014

When to start packing?

According to our countdown calendar, we have 42 more days until we close on our new home and get our keys. I've been doing a lot of thinking about packing and not actually any physical packing.

I think I have move-fatigue, which is what I'm terming the malaise and anxiety I feel towards packing up my apartment. This fatigue is due in large part to the many moves I've had to make. Since moving out of my mom's house for undergrad, I have moved into 4 different dorm rooms and 13 different apartments. I guess this is fairly typical for many in my generation.

One of the issues with this move, is that we accumulated a lot of stuff. Dzung and I have been fairly conscientious about keeping our things to a minimal, but our weakness are books and cds.

Any tips for getting motivated and packed?

I wish this bookcase would just pack itself.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Moving Again: Vancouver

Dzung and I are getting ready for another move. This move will hopefully be the last one for a long time because we will be moving into our own home.

How I abhor moving! I hate the packing, the sorting, the cleaning. The good news is we have about 50 days to get packed, but it doesn't make the job easier. How is it that we have accumulated so much stuff in our tiny 800 sq ft apartment??

Today I was looking over some of that stuff and found old journals. I have this awful habit of starting a journal and not even getting halfway through before I just forget about it or I get lazy. I was getting ready to recycle these journals when Dzung absolutely forbade me from chucking them. He doesn't understand how these journals are a reflection of my fickleness and not necessarily a window into my inner most soul.

For Dzung, journal writing is a ritual. He buys the same exact journal every year. He uses the same pen and he pours his little heart into those blank pages. He starts one journal and uses all the pages before he moves on to the next. For me, journal writing is just a musing of that particular moment. I don't necessary need to hold on to the pages to remind me of that moment.

The ways that we engage with journaling is another reflection of how different we are. Dzung solid and dependable, me flightily and scattered over several spaces. Nothing wrong with either ways of being, just different.

I'm going to try to convince him to let me recycle my old journals. I just don't have the sentimentally needed to pack and unpack half empty journals.

Here are some musings from my half hearted journals:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Spring Break Reading

I just finished Alysia Abbott's Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father, where Abbott chronicles life with her queer dad in San Francisco of the 1970s and 1980s. I loved reading her descriptions of iconic neighborhoods like the Haight and the Castro, which made me miss the city. I also enjoyed reading about her dad's role in the queer poetry/writing scene which highlights why I love San Francisco so much. I love that there is so much history and culture seeped in the bookstores, cafes, Muni lines, and the bodies of the people who currently live there and have died in that city.

Her relationship with her father was enmeshed and messy which made me think about my own relationship with my dad. Reading her words, it made me realize that we will never be satisfy if we only want our parents to love us as we think we should be loved, instead of loving us as they know how to love.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Making More Whimsy

The other weekend Dzung insisted that we go down to Spanish Banks to see if this guerrilla art installation that he had heard about was still up. It was, and he was like a kid in a candy store. Even though the weather was gloomy and the air was icy cold, he had a big smile on his face. The installation was fabulous, simple red umbrellas hanging from bare winter trees. Everyone who walked pass stopped for a look see, taking the time to smile at one another. The moment was simply magically. I'm so grateful that Dzung and I got to experience it together. I'm grateful for artists and creators. I'm grateful for the colors, red and gray.