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Tuesday
Sep092014

Memo to Dessy: 31 Months

Odessy,

Or more like OH-DESSY!

You're already 2 and a half and a month! You're wearing 3T and sometimes 4T clothing. You're a giantess. You're taller than almost everyone in your class except for a couple super giant kids, one of whom has a dad who is 6' 10." Sorry Odessa. Mommy had to stop somewhere.

Yes, school. You had your first day of preschool and you transferred about 87 My Little Ponies from a basket to a table, squished some homemade Play-Doh, tricycled around like a champ, and called it a day. Next up, actually dropping you off and leaving. Your classroom teachers are prepared for a bunch of cryers; they even have extra grown ups designated as "huggers" to patrol and comfort those of you who have only ever been left in the company of your parents and grandparents. You're gonna need a hugger for sure. 

You are quite...verbal. Talkative. Chatty. NONSTOP TALKER. I have no idea where you get it from. Me? No way.   You really like to narrate everything you're doing. "I eating banana." "I drawing." And you want us to always "Look Mommy LOOK!"

You've developed such a knack for repeating anything and everything that you shouldn't. We're not terribly foul-mouthed around you but even the slightest biting remark or inapproprate verbiage that slips out is immediately adopted and spit back out. You're a taunter. A two year old taunter. You hear us telling Emmy to calm down and next thing we hear is, "Just relax Emmy. Just relax." So uppity for a little sister.

You don't seem to see yourself that way though. When Emmy excitedly yelled about wanting pasta for dinner, this was your response: "You can't have pasta Emmy." Emmy: "?" You: "I eat your pasta. I eat it. I EAT IT." Followed by your chuckling at your own joke.

I don't know how or why but you have a wicked sense of humor for a toddler. Poop-based jokes are your specialty. When you poop, you like to tell us "I hold it, I eat it" and then laugh hysterically at your own genius. One of my favorite recent memories: putting you to bed at night and singing "Skidamarink a-dink, a-dink, Skidamarink a-doo." But instead of saying "I love you" I said, "I love...poo." You could NOT get enough, dissolving into giggles. Every single time. "Again Mommy again!" 

But God forbid we help you. Everything must be done yourself. "I do it myself" is your motto. You remind me of the "worry about yourself" kid.

Your hair got so crazy hobo that we finally gave you your first haircut.

Now, depending on what you're doing, you sometimes remind me of Javier Bardem in "No Country for Old Men." 

Except he had a better attitude.

In Vietnamese there's a phrase "tinh bo" which loosely translates to "expressionless" or "unfazed" or "ignoring your sister and continuing to innocently watch a cartoon despite the fact you just dropped a nuclear bomb and initiated a world war."  You will bite, hit, kick, swat or exact some sort of physical retribution on Emmy--often completely unprovoked and undeserved--and then when she's wailing bloody murder, you're calm as the Dalai Lama in lotus pose. No reaction, no emotion, no remorse. You have been in more time outs as a 2 year old than Emmy ever has in 5 and a half years. In fact, I think Emmy has been in exactly ONE timeout. I know you're not supposed to ever compare your children or do these five things (of which I have done every single one) but Odessa, you are something else for sure.

Extremes. You can be such a bundt face, kicking me right in the jaw because I dared suggest we go brush your teeth, and then minutes later you are a total love. You tell Asian Grandma "I very love you." And you tell Daddy "You are my besssssst brudder." 

You've never met a puzzle you don't love. Wooden blocks, cardboard, hologram. You can do the Melissa and Doug United States of America puzzle by yourself. You have better knowledge of American geography than anyone on your immigrant family side. And the way you say "Oklahoma" is ridiculously cute. "Ohh kla HO ma."

Your Vietnamese is definitely strong with word recognition and understanding. But you rarely use it. Only in a Vietglish kind of way. Like when you said "I didn't cắn Daddy," after you very much did cắn him.

You're just insufferable with all the typical terribles of a two. It's all first-time experiences with you because you are so different from Emmy in so many ways. But it makes us love each of you even more because you're sisters, you're ours, and you're nothing alike.

I love you little Dragon Baby. Just stop trying to overpower me when you don't want to do something. It's exhausting! And you're freakin' strong. And don't repeat that.

Love,

Mama

Saturday
Aug302014

Things People Say To Which I Have No Good Response

My reporter training, and my years as a thinking sentient being, have provided me with the ability to politely address these statements but I do wince each and every time.

1. "You don't look Vietnamese! At all. You look mixed/Filipino/Thai/Just Not Vietnamese." Who says that? And yes, I DO look totally Vietnamesey. Goodness.

2. "Did you have work done? On your nose? It's so straight. How about your eyes? No?" This is just weird. Like it's a lose-lose when I say no because either they don't believe me or they don't believe me.

3. "You're looking skinnier*." 

4. "You're looking fatter*."

5. "Congratulations!" I am weirdly embarrassed by praise and also seem to never know exactly what it's for. Not because I'm awesome at things but because I underwent years of Tiger parenting wherein my parents never said they were proud of me until I was in my late 20's and by then I was so hardened the compliments bounced off me like arrows off a woolly mammoth made of iron.

5. "You're a MOTHER? You have KIDS?" Um. Yes? Do I seem THAT unfit? Or do I not talk about my kids enough? How is it not obvious I am totally a woman with children that I bore and fed from my own person? My own person would tell you there were traumas suffered that will NEVER be forgotten. But it is truly worth it for the trade off of having two highly entertaining little humans to shake my head at every single day.

6. "You look much better in person." I know this is usually meant as a compliment but it's funny if you think about it.

7. "You look beautiful on TV." Ditto above.

8. "Is your husband white?" I feel I have to go into the whole backstory every time, i.e. we're high school sweethearts and we grew up in a super white area and he's done many things to earn his Asian card including eating durian, bitter melon, chicken hearts, etc etc.

9. "What does your husband do?" Again with the whole backstory and how I didn't marry him just because he's a doctor but because he has great dance moves and is an extremely patient human being who somehow managed to handle all this jelly for 20--OMG did I just write TWENTY--years since were 16 whole years old.

10. "So you're the newscaster." Which implies that you weirdly somehow knew there was a "newscaster" in your midst and you've been wondering who it was and AHA you've figured it out.

*Gotta love Asian relatives. No pound left behind.

Friday
Aug222014

Updated: Vicky Nguyen Ice Bucket Challenge on KNTV

Man, our newscast producers at KNTV don't miss anything.

Unbeknownst to me, they snapped up the video I posted last night and ran it in the 11PM newscast.

THe Good Doctor found out when a surgeon said, "I saw you (or your body and chin) on TV last night!" 

#sideeffectsofbeingmarriedtoaTVreporter

Game on for sure Jess, Raj and Janelle!

 You can see my full challenge, and more of Emmy's total cuteness, here:

Thursday
Aug212014

Vicky Nguyen Ice Bucket Challenge

Long time no see!

Lots to update you on.

But for now, I'm making a donation and accepting the double ice bucket challenge from my cousin Leah, whose father passed away from ALS, and from my friend and fellow reporter Kiet Do. #StrikeOutALS

Please consider making a donation of your own to www.ALSA.org or a charity you believe in.

I nominate Raj Mathai, Jessica Aguirre and Janelle Wang!

I almost did it in my Speedo with glacier water on top of a mountain, but this guy beat me to it.

Wednesday
Jun182014

EmmySF 2014

So it's come and gone and what a tornado. KNTV NBC Bay Area took home 13 Emmy awards--the most for any station this year. It's a testament to the commitment our management has made to bringing compelling, original reporting to local news in a meaningful way to cover the issues that matter to our viewers and to prompt meaningful change. It's also a testament to the hard work and talent at our station as we make the most of these resources and rise to the challenge.

I am not usually so rah rah, although cheerleading was part of my high school and college DNA, but I really am proud to work alongside some of the smartest, nicest, and most competitive people in the business--not only at KNTV but in the market. I'm inspired by the work of my colleagues and they push me to up my game. We do a job that can sometimes be thankless, and often stressful, but for a few nights a year, we get together and celebrate some of the wins. And this year, special Nguyens :) Mr. and Mrs. 

 

The night was especially amazing because we had SEVEN tables of KNTV staff and their families to root us on and scream like banshees when our names were read. It was amazing because of the combination of team and individual craft awards we won. And it was amazing for me because this year cemented some of the most meaningful career relationships I've ever developed. Investigative work requires another level of messy. It involves trust under fire, strong wills locking horns, unspoken understanding, and a belief that you're in this together--even when it gets so so ugly. This was an awesome moment with Jeremy and Kevin.  

We only get 30 seconds on stage to say anything and usually that's more than enough for me, evidenced by the times I've blabbed on senselessly in the past because I lost all composure. But this time I kept it together enough to make a semblance of a speech that I eeked out on our last win of the night in the continuing coverage category. 

I had the honor of presenting some of the awards this year with Matt Goldberg, the inceptionizer of the Investigative Unit at KNTV and someone whose name was mentioned repeatedly in thank you speeches throughout the night. 

Because I knew I'd at least make it on stage one time to present -- I spent a ridiculous number of minutes searching the internet for an appropriate dress. Only to discover it was in my closet. Where it's been since 1998, literally trucked across the country and back, never worn because I never had the appropriate place to get so glammed up. 

The gown is a Tadashi. It was generously donated to the Asian American Journalists Association as a silent auction item for the Chicago convention in 1998, according to Nicole Wong, former journalist and good friend now doing amazing things for Yahoo! In any case--the silent auction people asked me to wear it around to "model" it. Me being me agreed. 

So I'm strutting around with this crazy gown safety pinned in key places and one of the sponsors of the event, Skip Rhodes, who had attended many of these functions on behalf of Chevron, eventually put in the winning bid on the gown. It was several hundred dollars -- a crazy amount for a dress to someone who was on financial aid and work study and eating cafeteria food every day. Then he said, "It's yours! Wear it to the Emmys someday," and with a warm smile, that was that. I asked about 17 times if he was sure and I tried to say it was too generous and then I asked if he really was sure and then I accepted the dress, the Tadashi people altered it and sent it to me and then it sat in my closet until this weekend.

 The lovely folks at Padis jewelry sponsored the event--a brilliant partnership created by Julie Watts. So all the presenters were allowed to get crazy bling to borrow for the night. So. Fun. And instantly--the Tadashi gown was the exact right dress for this night--glamorous and grown up and a nice complement to crazy amounts of real diamond jewelry. Like I had a Honda Accord on my neck, a Camry on my ears, and a Prius C on my wrists. I equate expensive jewelry with foreign cars. 

Kay, pictured on the left--with me and Alexis--saved the day after a mix up with the original necklace I picked out was actually reserved for someone else. She surprised me with the art deco piece you see and it was a perfect fit with the gown. 

So Skip--thank you.

The gown you bought at a silent auction in 1998 to support scholarships for Asian American journalism students really was worn to the Emmy Awards in 2014 and it was an extremely lucky charm that brought me home three golden ladies!