Category Archives: LONG READS

you deserve better

November 3, 2016

You deserve better.

Whether it is being disrespected by your colleagues or compromising your wants and needs in a relationship, it is a sentence that is often said to comfort the person, and in a way, to provoke a call to action.

Why do we say this? Out of obligation? I have always appreciated comments like this and question its genuineness, but it makes me ponder: do I really deserve better?

Before I begin, I am one of those individuals who are careful with words and don’t toss around certain words so freely. I’m intentional. So when I think of the word “deserve” I go by its definition: do something or have or show qualities worthy of.

Now let me align the definition with an example – let’s say, my job – I really applied myself, going above and beyond, and now during my evaluation, I believe a raise is well-deserved.

That is how it’s done, right? I worked hard, when the salary doesn’t compensate the demands I’ve met, I ask for a raise because I deserve it. Yet some people, including my younger self and recent graduates, refuse to accept any offers that are entry-level salary or don’t pay enough because they have a degree and two internships.

Why do we think and feel we deserve more? 

Shifting thoughts now – if I think I don’t deserve any better, what does that say about me? That I don’t value myself? That I battle with self-confidence? But what if I truly believe i don’t deserve better because I know that I did not applied myself 100 percent?

What if I felt that I didn’t earn it?

So ask yourself: do you truly deserve better? 

sex and the city

October 16, 2016

It’s Sunday night and I just finished hanging out with Carrie, Miranda, Samantha, and Charlotte.


I finished six seasons in one entire week – I know, this is hardcore binging. I have never seen the entire series, all at once ever. As a kid, the show would play late night, and I only caught a few minutes of the episodes not comprehending the plot or anything. I was never a die-hard fan.

Now having watched the series as an adult, I have a vastly different opinions and thoughts. Three in particular – One: wow, what a huge disservice to women in New York. Two: Carrie is stupid. Three: Miranda is my profound favorite.

I think it’s natural for us to want to cling to a particular character – whether they have archetypes that we obtain or aspire to have. Of course, like with most women-relationship centric shows, I try to find myself in these characters. While it can be for the obvious reason, I could be a Carrie, but then I realized, I am not quite like her.

I wasn’t like anyone – they all had a little something-something that summed up me, but not solely one character.

Carrie is immature in a lot of ways. Though her humor is fabulous and so is her shoe collection, a columnist who cannot prioritize her finances was not cute. How is she making that much money and spending it on Manolos? Not only that, I think her obsession with being in a relationship was stupid. I’d never move to Paris with a man because he says, “Let’s go” or some shit. For me, you better put a ring on it if you are trying to take me out of New York. I am not kidding.

I understand that there may be a population of women who are obsessed with relationships, but let’s just say, I’ve never been the type to really, really chase for love. So yeah, that is my verdict on Carrie.

I grew to admire Miranda throughout my binge. It’s ironic because I remember when I was younger, a lot of girls did not want to be the Miranda, so I didn’t want to be the Miranda. But Miranda is a realist, though she can come off as a thousand percent cynic. I liked how she was very judgmental and asked the fearful questions because, well, someone has to do it, right? Call someone out on their shit and be that honest friend. Her life seem more attainable and the way she carried herself. Her issues were more than trying to get laid or chase some fantasy relationship. Although she did complain about not having sex in a few episodes.

I am not undermining Carrie’s issues, but c’mon. 

I did not want to write another blurb dissecting every true/false depiction of Women in New York because other major publications have done it and well, I don’t have time to do something that detailed. But I figured I share some initial thoughts as soon as I wrap up the series while

Here’s my last thought – the frequency of ladies who lunch is not attainable whatsoever….Four grown women dining together like that all the time? I have to plan weeks out to get time with the girls. Seriously.

Ta-ta for now!



writing is personal

October 11, 2016

I was asked, “Do you write for yourself?”

That may sound like a silly question to you, but it really raises the question: are you doing it for yourself or for an audience?

For me, writing has always been so personal. Before I went some sort of public with my life through Xanga, I have always confided in spiral bind college-rule pages as a young girl – a time where I was more reserved and had no one to talk to. I remember old journals filled up with sparkly gel-pens – ah, those pubescent ages. 

Now approaching the latter of my twenties, my blog and my private journal continues to be the spaces where I share my thoughts. But I bounce back to the original question – if I am writing for myself or an audience, often.

A photo by Dustin Lee.

Do I gear towards a central theme because I know it will create buzz? This is my publicity and marketing brain speaking. Or do I write about the shit I go through and just share it with the World in hopes it will connect with people? This is me talking. 

I think it is what I choose to write about that will make me steer one way or the other…

Truthfully, it’s never solely the former. However, doing the work that I do now such as heading up thecnnekt, it is a mesh of both. I want to write stories that remain personal, but can spark that connection between the audience. I want the reader to feel whatever I am feeling. I want their thoughts to be provoked!

This is because based on what our contributors and I have shared with the public – the feedback our team has received has been tremendous. I really think we are onto something great! 

But at the end of the day (and in my private journal), I do write for myself as a way to document my life – keep tabs on my development and well, sanity.

So if you asked me that question again, I don’t know if I can simplify my response for you.






a poem about poems and love

October 6, 2016

What I have always loved
about writing is
the simplicity of words
thus creating beautiful thoughts and sentences.

The same man
who made me fall
in love with
also made me
fall deeply
in love
with him.

Every line he writes
is a subtle gateway
to his mind and soul.
He never writes a poem
for a girl, he says.

But he did once
for me.

He read me his
favorite poems
by dead poets
on a warm Sunday
at Fort Green Park.

It was truly
one of my favorite
dates of all time.

I guess you can say
Poetry and love
are similar.
It can make you
filled with life
or empty.

onward, shall we?

I was encouraged to enjoy the time off before I transition into my new role. I am one of those people who always stayed busy, so when I don’t have anything to do and time off, I don’t know what to do with my time, and end up stressing out about having too much free time.

I know, I sound pretty ridiculous.

It’s because I never had that luxury. Anyway first things first, I’ll update you with that I am no longer working in PR.

And I am quite relief to be honest. 

Holding off on the storytelling of this and major announcements as I am trying to be more mindful of the now and not look backwards.

When your future boss gives you a later start date than expected, you “enjoy the time off.” So, I booked a quick trip to DC to visit The Lee’s in their new neighborhood: Washington DC.

Luckily for me, the bus ticket was only $19 because I had a discount. Talk about #winning.

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There are definitely more pictures I took on this trip, but only sharing a few because it will take forever to edit and upload and all that good stuff. You know me, I can be quite lazy. Plus, thecnnekt’s having our Soft Launch tonight and I have to get balloons. And I am nervous and excited at the same time for the turn out!


Okay, will write and share more soon!


not mia, just focused

September 18, 2016

I remember there was a specific time frame in college, where I was busy doing me, and I got a lot of shit from other people. Shit like:

Why you so MIA? 

I was just focused, obsessed maybe, with doing well in all categories in my life. That meant excelling in my academics and graduating by my goal-date, contributing to organizations, my internship (which did catapult my fashion career), and working part-time at the student recreation center, all while trying to obtain some fitness regime.

I rarely had time to go to social gatherings – or what I used to say: “fuck shit up” with my friends. I just had different priorities then, and I still do now. But back then, I carried this guilt with me. I always felt bad that I couldn’t attend a mixer, or participate in fun things because I obviously knew I had to study, work, or take a trip back to Pomona to visit my family. Trust me, I had a strong case of the FOMO before the term was even established.

I remember going to Downtown Fullerton while there were deadlines and other pressing matters to attend to. But I was young, wild, and cared too much about peoples’ opinions of me then.

But what is much different now compared to then is the guilt that was with me is utterly gone. Now, when I am working on something for thecnnekt, but missing on the latest party in Brooklyn, I don’t feel bad.

The great thing about growing up is giving less fucks. Seriously. 

My desire to go out and stay out late is nonexistent. My priorities have changed a lot, and my ass is more on the line than my wild college years (Circa 2009 – 2011) because well, I am adult now. There is no guilt and shame when I say, “I can’t make it” or “I don’t want to go out tonight.”

I am doing me – just focused on being a better version of myself right now and tunnel vision about my goals.

So, I understand why people are being MIA – they’re just busy doing them. S’all good.





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 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!




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.