balance & gratitude

August 16, 2016

I am having difficulty with finding balance with life right now along with other details that I am not ready to share. While I try to compose my emotions and thoughts, parts of me want to give up on adulthood and chasing this dream. 

I think it is easy to run far away from your problems. Parts of me think it’s cowardly, to be honest. To keep fighting for whatever you want takes a lot of guts and resilience. I know my Mom taught me better than to do the Kayne Shrug and walk away from what I’ve worked hard for.

In moments like these – what I like to call Darkness (I know, this is so broad, but trust me it’s filled with so many dark emotions), I like to reflect on the things and people I am grateful for and how amazing my Humid Summer has been.

Then, makes me think about the bigger picture – it ain’t so bad. Calm the eff down, Chary. 

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These are just some highs of Summer. My takeaway from this Summer is spending time with loved ones – family and friends, and is finding focus in certain things like my current project thecnnekt. 

So family and friends, whether you’re having a shitty ass day, week, month, or however long this Darkest Moment is for you – don’t forget to look at the good shit that is happening in your life. It will change your perspective and attitude – especially in your life.

Like let’s be honest – it ain’t thaaaaat bad. 

In the words of Albus Dumbledore: Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times. If one only remembers to turn on the light.

– C

identifying as cambodian-american

July 31, 2016

“You’re not Cambodian enough,” was a phrase that I often grew up hearing.

I remember my Dad would give me so much shit because I always identified myself as American versus Cambodian, first. But I am American. If you know Dad, he’s proud Cambodian old man.

Very prideful.

I pondered this for years – what does being “Cambodian enough” mean? What are these characteristics? Growing up amongst fluent Khmer speakers and 100 percent Cambodian families made me insecure about how to identify myself because I am a mix baby.

When I told my mom that this bothered me, she said this in Khmer, “Well, they are right. You aren’t Cambodian. You’re not full and born in America.” I know this is true, but it still bothered me.

I didn’t grow up with many Cambodian friends in my immediate circle – girls and boys alike. As a kid, I questioned why didn’t the girls want to be friends with me.

Was it because I was slightly lighter and my best friend is Chinese? Was it because I never knew how to recite Khmer prayers at the temple and never dressed in the customs? Or was it because my Khmer was choppy and I did not adopt the accent well? Did they group me into the lighter-skinned Asians and made presumptions that I was snobby? I don’t know; I do not know what they saw in me. But I knew, I always felt I was not Cambodian enough.

Despite how small our town is and how close-knit the Cambodian Community is / was, I felt a disconnect between the culture and myself. It was ironic because my parents’ friends had kids and we knew them, but we were either good friends, acquaintances, but never BFFs.

Maybe my parents never pushed my siblings and I into the culture immensely like other families, and that is okay. But sometimes I feel like my siblings and I get shunned upon because we don’t practice certain traditions, customs, and don’t engage in many community events.

Whatever it may be, I am nonetheless, Cambodian-American.

– C

For all my Cambodian friends and families, check out Khmerican.com for some stories and insights.

 

 

girl, prioritize yoself

July 19, 2016

I know what it feels like when you give someone your all, and you are left with nothing in return. That feeling of emptiness inside.

If I am not mistaken either, that feeling is also a hint of disappointment. Like most lessons learned, you and I probably learned the hard way, huh?

I was always concerned with other peoples’ happiness, but my own. I questioned myself if I am a people pleaser, or if it stemmed from being the eldest in my family. I was just taught to be considerate and mindful.

While I have always been that ride-or-die girlfriend or a supportive colleague, when it came to me and my wants, there were some relationships that simply lacked reciprocity. I’ve talked about this before…

I think it is easy for us to put ourselves on the back-burner. You care about someone and their happiness, too, so you will comprise yours. I get it.

But once I acknowledged the selfishness of others, I began to look at things, especially relationships with people, differently, including the one with myself. It took me a long time to grasp the self-love practice and being a shamelessly selfish woman.

I learned to prioritize myself and my happiness as a result of a breakup in college. I know, does this sound cliche? Maybe, but it really was a life-changing experience.

It was that one relationship where it did set me up for what was next and taught me the value of Self, what to look for in a sustainable relationship, and define in my own terms what a relationship is – not society’s “supposed to’s.”

Honestly, I do not think I will be where I am today if I didn’t prioritize myself. Yes, girl, YAS!

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a new yorker

July 13, 2016

On Friday night, I spent it on a rooftop bar with a dear friend, Daniel. To our right we saw the One World Observatory and to our left was the Empire State Building. The weather was perfect and turnt background music. In this moment, I reminded myself, “Wow, You live in New York.”

Saturday, July 9th marked my Second Anniversary in New York. I celebrated with kayaking on the East River and later in Coney Island dancing to 90s hip-hop and R&B with my favorite girls. (You can see it on instagram).

It is surreal to me because what really has been merely two years, feels so much longer than that. A lot has happened and can happen in a course of a week that causes it to feel like forever. In the last two years, my views and lifestyle are not the same as it once was.

I, essentially, am not the same person who left California. This Californian girl is now a Brooklynite slash New Yorker.

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While my First Year, I was focused on putting some roots in New York and figuring out life’s next steps, my second year was a little different. The new challenges I faced had a lot to do with my personal life and balancing a healthy mind and soul.

Naturally, we all go through these stages where we evaluate our life, the people in it, and how we identify ourselves. This is part of growing up.

Living in a doggy-dog City like New York, you come across shady ass people – people who will step on you to get ahead in their careers and in life. This results you to become cautious and skeptical and possibly be an asshole, too; you question everyone’s intentions, and you become closed off to people and the World.

I found myself slowly becoming Jaded Chary versus my optimistic-realist self. I didn’t want to be like this. 

It took me a long time to feel “normal” again. It was not for writing/ reflection moments and my support system, I do not know how I’d be sane at this point. I mean, I do get crazy Chary here-and-there. Iris called this “Chary 2.0.”

So there you have it – Year Two down, going into Three. There is a rumor that most California transplants only live in New York to five years – let’s see!

– C

For more of the new york archives and favorites: dear new york, six months, starting anew

 

 

 

i’m not a blogger

July 8, 2016

This draft has been sitting in my inbox since February. It is now July and I have not wrapped my head around to why I have not decided to make this live. But in recent news, there is so much shit the World is facing and I thought I share the root of why I feel the way I do about this topic. 

I get insulted when someone calls me a “blogger.”

Why would I? It makes sense – I have a blog, and I write blog posts.

In my world, the title “Blogger” has a connotation, as naturally as some words do. After working in two agencies, five NYFW seasons, breathing fashion, and meeting so many “bloggers,” I have developed strong feelings for the title.

A strong distaste that is.

They are now called “influencers.” As much as I hate to give them such a title, they shaped the direction of how brands approach consumers. Brands utilize these figures to excel in overall exposure and sales growth.

I understand this completely – it’s a business, right? But here is my rant with these digital influencers:

There is so much noise. I see so many of these “bloggers” who aspire to be the Song Of Style or Sincerely Jules. Bloggers with that unicorn hair. When I take a closer look at these style mavens, their styles somehow overlap and blend a little – it happens, I guess. Everyday I work on finding these stylish people all over the country, and the more accounts and personal style blogs I explore, the more they all seem the same.

Ultimately, #basic.

I begin to question brand loyalty or if this digital influencer is a total sellout. I think about authenticity. 

Putting personal style posts aside, when it comes to the things they share on their social media, I do not find anything noteworthy. I am certain that these people are real and care about other things than what they wear on their backs. But instead, all I see are pictures and the glamorous life they paint on social media. It’s cool – do you, but honestly I have no desire to follow up with all things superficial.

I want real shit. I crave substance. 

I am being too blunt and probably insensitive, I know.

Now I hope you can imagine why I would be offended when someone would call me a blogger.

Also note, if you’ve been with me since I launched my website and/or know me personally, at the end of the day, I am not trying to be a fashion blogger. 

I moved to New York to become a writer in the editorial space. While my background is fashion focused and I slay in my day-job, being some fashionista living in New York is not my life goal.

I want to be a successful, frequently published writer (and editor) talking about things that pertain to the more important matters in life rather than the shoes that I am wearing.

So yeah, ask me if I am a blogger, and I will correct you. I am a writer. 

/ end rant and thought.

– C

PS: shout out to the bloggers who ultize their Voice in sharing the heavy subjects with your audience. We need more of you representing in the fashion space.

 

 

 

 

why i don’t date asian men

June 17, 2016

If you read my last post below, then you’ve noted my comment about not dating Asian men.

So when friends asked me to elaborate on why as an Asian woman who doesn’t like to date Asian men, a part of me felt obliged to tell my story and thoughts on this matter.

For the record, I’ve dated Asian men before – Cambodian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, and Filipino. You name it. It’s not that I don’t find Asian men attractive, because I do, sometimes. But for me, it’s one of those experiences where it is a “been there, done that” and you’re seeking something new and fresh.

Here is a simple analogy: I used to be obsessed with Passion Green Tea in high school – it was my go-to. After adventuring to many boba shops and exposed to a variety of flavors, my taste palette developed and expanded. Now in recent years, I’m all ’bout that Taro Milk Tea.

That is precisely where I am. 

To argue against the societal myth that they (Asian men) are incapable of having emotion, maybe this is embedded in the general Asian culture where we do often lack emotional intelligence. However, there are a few who defy the so-called “stereotype.” I’ve dated Asian men who were more romantic than I expected – more than I was (and I’m totally a romantic-type), and woo’ed the shit out of me. So there is such thing about Asian men having emotion and being affectionate!

Asian men are often labelled as effeminate, meaning they are not “manly” enough. This has to do with gender roles, and frankly, the lines have blurred between what is considered masculine and feminine in my point of view. I am tired of this gender roles bullshit, too.

As far as the penis size – sizes vary as it would for all men. The color of your skin does not justify how enormous or tiny your penis is.

So Dear Society, shut the fuck up and quit shoving these myths about each race in the media and our minds.

What drew the line for me when it came to dating Asian men was the different mindsets we have. The morals and beliefs didn’t align, and this is certainly important to me. As you all know, I am a woman of many strong opinions and just the way I carry myself.

Similar to stereotypes of Asian men, Asian women has a set of their own – being submissive, delicate, and often labeled as “exotic” by Western (and Asian Societies). I challenge what you call “normal Asian girl.” I have known this growing up, but did not know how to vocalize and articulate how I was not similar amongst my Asian-American women, then.

But to my point, I later discovered not only Asian men, but some men in general, cannot handle a women who obtained a set of modern ideals and vocalize them, passionately.

There will be certain men (traditional values, big penis, effeminate) in all races, so why did we specifically target Asian men? It is all so stupid.

So, to answer your question to why I don’t date Asian men – I’ve explored the Boba menu and right now, Taro Milk Tea is my jam.

Those are my thoughts. Happy Friday!

Tiff + Adriana, if you are reading this – hope I didn’t spoil our Sunday convo, but will be more happy to hash out dirty details over dimsum (; 

– C

 Edit: June 18, 2016

A friend pointed out that I stereotyped Asian men as “traditional.” I had to reread what I wrote, and ultimately, I did. I am sorry about that – I ended up contradicting myself as opposed to what I was here to do – defy stereotypes.

But this goes back to the original theme of this post – everyone, every race, can be this-or-that and not solely Asians.

Thank you all so much for reading!

 

marriage and race

June 12, 2016

“You have boyfriend?” 

One of the daunting questions at family gatherings. Yikes.

Although, it has never phased me, the pressure gets real when I am surrounded by family (and sometimes, peers) who are embarking this path. I know you’ve probably faced this, too, when your Facebook feed is comprised of: engagements, weddings, and babies.

I totally get it. 

We are in this modern era where our first marriage doesn’t happen until our late-twenties, pushing towards thirties, and some may not even wedded at all. This is common now. There are things we are still trying to solidify in our lives, like our own identity and grasping adulthood – how can we even figure marriage?

Here is the twist, the ongoing conversation between my family is not about marriage, but it is the fact that I don’t want to marry within my own race. I have relatives and family friends (you know, your “aunt”) who have been fixated on this. When they asked me if I have found a nice and wealthy Cambodian man, and I respond with an obvious “No,” followed by, “I don’t date Asian men” I’m flooded with questions to why not?

For the record – I used to, okay. 

I grew up in Pomona, where the demographic is predominately Hispanics. Now, living in New York, I am bound to meet people from different backgrounds and ethnicities. I am surrounded by diversity, and I cannot help who I like! It’s 2016, where interracial couples are common, right?

Also, note that Asian men don’t date Asian women like me. I discovered this through my college years – I have strong opinions and some men aren’t very fond of that. If you have not seen Ali Wong’s Baby Cobra Stand Up comedy bit, you need to watch this. She nailed it!

Although, I know my relatives’ intentions are well and they don’t mean any harm, they come from a time period when you are 22, you are already married with your first-born while trying to make something of yourself if you are presented with such an opportunity. I understand to why they’re asking me such questions – what’s next, Chary…?

I’m in this age bracket when one is “supposed to have” X, Y, and Z. Read: marriage, buy a house, and have kids.

Trust me, I do want to get married and own a home, but my timeline and preference is just a little different that’s all.

– C

PS: thank you for all chiming in to ready this – I have been requested to write a follow up to answer all of your questions. Be on the look out (:

i got the feels

May 26, 2016

Full disclosure: my parents are wonderful and kind people. Their approach has change drastically over the years, and now, we are finally in a “conventional” state.

Growing up as an Asian-American, I struggle with unwanted emotions and how to react in unpleasant situations.

I guess you can also say, scholarly, there was a lack of “emotional intelligence” in my upbringing. In our household, my parents always held themselves together – strong figures, and extremely different nurturing styles compared to what you see on television. My childhood was nowhere near or resembled Fuller House.

Hugs were rare and feelings were hardly discussed. Hugs and verbal acknowledgments were only exchanged during milestones: honor rolls, graduations, etc. Sentences as “I am so proud of you” were saved for big occasions like Graduation. For the semester grades, the expectations of passing with flying with colors were embedded in us before we even started our education careers.

My siblings and I were conditioned with a “suck it up” attitude. My Dad always told me, “Don’t cry” growing up. We don’t cry about our problems, and we don’t cry over dumb shit. Both my parents were very persistent about not crying over boys. What we were taught to do was to “move on.” There was no such thing as wallowing, or dealing with whatever it was. The act of crying is almost foreign in our home. 

Because of this, you can see why and how my siblings and I are the way we are  – we didn’t know better.

Often, society associates crying as a form of weakness. It’s a strange thought, though – as an adult I am learning how to feel and deal with the natural not-so-pretty emotions: sadness, anger, disappointment, etc. I even cry now in happy moments, this was a whole new level I’ve reached. With the reminders from friends, it took me a very long time to accept that crying only means I am human and is not a sign of weakness.

It’s fucking okay to cry! 

I want to close with this: when we express our emotions too much, there is a backlash. I know people have mixed reviews for Kanye’s 808’s & Heartbreak album because it was a sentimental side of him – what does our society say about having emotions?

You know when you say, “I hate that I feel this way” when you are referring to an unwanted emotion. A phrase that subtly implies that our emotions aren’t valid or aren’t worth recognizing. Says a lot about our society though and how having emotions is stigmatized of some sort.

Honestly, fuck it.

– C

woman seeking women

May 19, 2016

How did you guys meet? 

I answered confidently, “Online.”

Yeah, unconventional meets are kind of my thang.  

In an era where you can snag a date same-day with a swipe, this is nothing new. I absolutely have no shame in publicizing myself to find a friend. There is an even a lady-friendly app for that. 

I can understand why this is a brow raiser for you or why would anyone want to post an article online about making friends. You might as well say I am putting up an ad on Craiglist under “women seeking women.”

I like to think, by a certain age, we have developed our close knit of friends and our local community. But there are not many talks about being a transplant, picking up your life, moving out of state, and building a community all over again – as a grown ass person. You begin to desire a connection with a person, and/or the need to create a new community.

I wrote this article when I arrived in New York about making women-adult friendships. (I wish I can share this, but the site shut down and I never clipped the piece!) In short, the piece described the struggles of an adult making friends and asking the readers/writers how does one make friends in a large city filled with people who shared the same quirky interests and passion for life as I did?

The results of this piece then inspired me to join forces with amazing women to create an avenue for those women who are looking for the same thing as we all did once. We want to revive quality content back into an age where the market is hella saturated and create meaningful relationships amongst like-minded individuals.

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If you have not done so already, please click here to get a short version of Our Story. You can also catch us tweeting and ‘gramming.

Maybe, I should put an ad out there screaming “women seeking like-minded women, but only for friendships” ?

Lastly, I want to do a huge shout out for all of those who have been supportive since the birth of this project. Thank you, thank you!

I cannot wait to see what will happen!

Best,
C

for my mother

May 8, 2016

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Mom,

Thank you for grilling my ass in my upbringing. If it was not for the constant disciplinary actions, then I don’t think I would’ve recognized right from wrong. Thank you for teaching me the value of hard work because I am not just some entitled Millennial.

Thank you for giving me enough guidance in life, but leaving room for me to fuck shit up and learning from my own mistakes. Thank you for your constant support throughout the years – for the wins and the losses. Thank you for your honesty and pure heart as now I have a heart of gold.

Thank you for being a strong woman, whom I took after, naturally. Most importantly, thank you for all of your sacrifices, so you can provide for your children.

I love you so much. Happy Mother’s Day!

Love,
Your Eldest