The Life You Never Knew You Changed


H called me.  I was in my new second home, the university library, writing a policy memo on the conflict in Yemen.  I knew something was different about this call.  I stepped out of the library and picked up the phone.

“Hey, what’s goin on?” I answered naturally.

“Um,” she was quiet.  I listened intently.

“Derek P, you know.  He passed away today.  He crashed into a semi-truck.”

I grew up in a small, coal-mining town in Utah.  As mentioned before, I was the only half-Asian around and I was often teased for being ‘weird.’  Luckily, I had great friends to help me survive the battlefield called elementary school, but middle school was an entirely different playing field. read more

The Double Standard of Diversity in California


After growing up in Utah, living in Southern California for three years has given me a different perspective of the United States.

For one, white is no longer the majority in California (at least, in the big cities anyway).  Almost all of the friends I’ve made here are either Hispanic, Asian, Arabic or Black.  In fact, I’m sometimes hard pressed to find a white person here and it’s a great thing.  As someone studying international affairs on a professional level, diversity warms my heart and it makes for a very interesting place.  Now, after three years in diverse Southern California, I’m dumbfounded by how white dominated Utah is every time I return. read more

I’m Going to Graduate School at 30


Remember how I said I’d update you on the most recent events of my crazy life?

Whelp, I’m going to get a masters at the ripe, old age of 30.

In my ‘turning 30’ post I wrote back in February, I mentioned some big life plans in the works that might involve graduate school–and, well, let’s just say it all worked out.  I got in.  I committed.  I accepted the student loan.  I live in graduate housing (aka, a dorm) and, somehow, I live with a Chinese family.  Don’t ask.  At least I’m not sleeping on an inflatable bed anymore. read more

Stories of My Irish-American Family

As far as I can recall, my father always had white hair. When I was only five years old, he was already fifty—yet he refused to act his age. I remember playing basketball with my father at the nearby courts of our humble apartment. He used to urge me to get my head out of the books and go out to the track and run alongside him. Although he was decades older than me, his energy was infectious.

Like myself, in his younger years my father was all about adventure. When he hit 28 and felt lost in his career, he signed up for the army and volunteered for Vietnam. What possessed him to go to a war torn country and dodge bullets is anyone’s guess, but I imagine that he was hungry for what most young people my age are looking for now: excitement, travel, and meaningful work. read more

Southern California vs. Northern California… and a Life Update

I somehow live here now?

I somehow ended up living in wine country

So, my life has been flipped upside down.  I am now kinda, sorta, living in Northern California.

A month prior to my Asia trip, my boyfriend told me he wanted to take a job offer in Northern California.  Although I’m kind of itching to get out of California, we both knew that taking this job was the right thing to do.

So when you get back from Japan and China, boyfriend said, we’re moving up North.

And… here I am.  North of San Francisco in a place I never, ever expected to find myself in. read more

Moving Abroad And Saying Farewell: It Never Gets Easier

Cloudy Skies in Shanghai

I woke up to cloudy skies.  I wanted sunshine for my final day here, but I knew a clear day was a rare blessing in Shanghai.  The weather reflected the feelings in my heart: uncertainty, haziness, fear.

I walked out of Z’s room to find she was already in the living room, staring out into the sea of Shanghai’s skyscrapers from her 25th floor window.  Her apartment wasn’t big, but it was cozy.  My suitcases were lined up neatly near the door, my entire life packed into two large bags and one carry on.  My heart winced as I looked at them. read more

What I Learned in My 20s… And My Big Announcement


Last Sunday, I turned 30.

I ran away to San Diego for 4 days and enjoyed myself immensely.  Despite all the anxiety I felt on the verge of turning 30, on the actual day of and after… well, I felt the same as when I was 29 (and 28 and 27).

I feel good.

I couldn’t think of a better way to turn 30 than in the company of my boyfriend, my best friend and my beloved coworkers… on the beach.  In San Diego.  In paradise.


coronado beach surfing

As I look back on my 20s, here’s some valuable life lessons I learned and lived by: read more

My Chinese New Year 2016 Gone Wrong

Happy Chinese New Year!

Happy Chinese New Year!

In America, it’s easy to forget that Chinese New Year is even happening.  Akin to Christmas in China, no one in America gives a flying crap about a holiday based on an outdated calendar.

My boyfriend was no exception.  Although he’s Chinese, he was way more excited about the super bowl.

“Am I allowed to watch super bowl?” he pleaded.

“What about Chinese New Year?” I frowned.  “I thought we could make jiao zi (dumplings) together and watch a Chinese movie or something.  You know, get in the spirit.” read more

What it’s Like Dating a Doctor

My doctor!

My doctor!

I remember being at some random party in university, holding a beer and looking at the throngs of people around me who were drunk and stumbling.

I walked over to a table of women and eavesdropped on their conversation.

“I always study at the medicine library, but I still haven’t gotten lucky yet!”

“Oh yeah? Still trying to get a doctor?”

“I went on a few dates with some, but none of them seem serious about me.”

“You gotta get them while you can! Once they’re a full-fledged doctor, they will be harder to snag!” read more

Reflections on 2015, Goals for 2016 and Favorite Posts


Happy New Year!

Every new year I look at the goals I set for myself the previous year and see how many of them I actually accomplished.

I wasn’t going to do it this year, but since I crossed off more than half the list I felt kinda proud of myself.  Plus, making goals for oneself is never a bad thing (even if we never reach them all).

What I accomplished in 2015:

  • Learn Advanced CSS, HTML, and Javascript; as well as Photoshop, Illustrator and In-Design.  I took a web design course and made a pretty impressive website.  I also spruced up Ruby Ronin’s layout. I still need to learn Illustrator and In-Design, but I’m using more photoshop!
  • Become an Irish Citizen Yup.  Did it.
  • Pay Off My Student Loans.  Aaaand they’re gone.
  • Visit at Least One National Park.  Went to Joshua Tree, although it’s definitely not Yosemite.
  • Run a 5k.  I participated in a color run and I actually thought 5k was too easy.  Time to upgrade to a 10k.
Joshua Tree at Sunset

Joshua Tree at Sunset

What I need to work on:

  • Update this Blog Once a Week and Really Commit to The Ruby Ronin.  Again, fail.  I think in June 2015 I didn’t even post once.  That’s horrible.  I need to make this priority #1!
  • Learn Italian and Sign up for an Italian Class.  Again, didn’t happen.  I tried to look for Italian classes in the LA area, but they were all 1.5 hours (by car) from my house.  Looks like Italian gets put back on the back burner…
  • Lose 20 pounds–and more importantly, lead a healthier life.  I didn’t lose 20 pounds, but I do lead a healthier life.  I exercise 4-5 times a week and cook almost all of my meals–now I just gotta figure out how to lose weight…
Tour De Fat San Diego

Tour De Fat in San Diego: All this beer is probably why I can’t shake off the pounds…

So basically, I rocked all the short term goals but really failed on the long term ones.  Worrisome!

A Look Back at 2015 read more