Stranger Danger

We have been struggling with Emmy's reaction to people outside of me, The Good Doctor, and Asian Grandma. She spends the majority of her time with the three of us, and she has a terrible bedside manner when faced with the prospect of being held, or God forbid, PLAYED WITH, by anyone else.

And wouldn't you know it, that's all White Grandma and White Grandpa wanted to do during our visit this weekend. Can you believe those people?

But on our way home, we stopped to see my aunt, who hasn't held Emmy since she was a couple weeks old. The second she saw my aunt, who is Asian Grandma's older sister, Emmy broke into a huge grin. Big, charming, open mouth smile. My aunt was going bananas, loud, clapping, high pitched voice. The Good Doctor and I looked at each other like are you KIDDING ME?! We just spent 36 hours telling everyone NOT to do that because it guarantees Emmy will scowl, then break out into a wailing cry, complete with fat, juicy tears.

Then we realized Emmy was being so charming because she thought Asian Aunt was Asian Grandma. Turns out, even babies think all Asians look alike.



When I was growing up, my parents and I clashed not only on the generational level, but on the cultural one as well. I see my little cousins going through the same battle as they grow up Vietnamese American. They are dealing with the typical issues that all teens have with their parents, but add the layer of Vietnamese-y culture and expectations, and they are basically screwed for the next 10 years. 

Annoying things about Asian Parents:

They openly complain about how lazy/fat/impolite/quiet you are when they see their friends or relatives, thinking that will motivate you into becoming a busy/skinny/polite/loud child.

They don't say "I'm proud of you." 

Getting a report card full of A's is nothing to celebrate. It's something you do. Like brushing your teeth or breathing. 

They insist you not lick your fingers when clearly, it states "Finger lickin' good" on the bucket.

They say things like, "that's so annoy." 

They think it's okay to talk about you like you're not in the room. When you are. And you can HEAR EVERYTHING THEY ARE SAYING. 

They think you will break your neck if you take gymnastics lessons.

They disapprove of everything when you first suggest it, then later love the idea when they see other people's kids doing the same thing.

They want you to be a doctor or engineer.

They love to go to buffets.

They talk about how much everything costs and ask everyone else how much everything costs.

They want you to buy a house with a granny unit.



TV Interns

We have all been in your shoes. I started at the now defunct CNN San Francisco bureau back in 1999. If you asked the news staff what I was good at, they would have  said, Who? Oh... her? That one. That sits there. Quietly with a semi-panicked expression? Oh, she's good at sitting at the desk and answering phones. She shows up on time and she appears to be studying some form of organic chemistry all the time. Yeah. That one doesn't really GET it.

And I didn't. I was too nervous to really ask anyone if I could go out on stories with them. I was overwhelmed by everything. The fast-paced environment, the busy people, the newness of being in news. I had NO CLUE what I was doing or what they were doing or what I should be doing. So I brought my homework and between picking up the phone and saying, "CNN SF, this is Vicky," I really didn't do much that helped anyone there, especially not me.

I figured it out over the following internships I had at KPIX, KTVU and CNX Media. I learned there are some real assholes in news, but there are also people who will offer guidance and mentorship. Now that I'm a reporter, I get shadowed by interns all the time. I try to be patient and helpful. But some interns are insanely clueless. Here's what I tell those who work with me, and want to become TV journalists.

Every now and then you will run into an insecure reporter/anchor who views you as a threat. Or they are just a jerk in general. Don't waste your time with those people. And don't take it personally. They will die alone surrounded by their 83 cats and porcelain clown collection.

Do your homework. Know the station's main anchors, reporters and when you get there, find out who does what. Assignment desk, producers, photographers, writers, editors, etc. Try to remember people's names. Bring your A game. As in, dress professionally, carry yourself like you know what you're doing, even when you don't. Ask pertinent questions and take notes on the answers so that you have a reference.

Figure out what you want to learn and do. Then go to the person who is doing that and introduce yourself. Ask how, not if, you can help them with whatever they are doing. Can you make a call? Can you print out an article or do some research? Can you pull some file video? You're getting a soda, would they like one too? Seriously, finding a way to make yourself useful will endear you to the person you are trying to learn from. You are then not just a barnacle. You are a symbiotic creature.

Let them know exactly what you want to do. I would like to go out with you on your stories. I would like learn how to report. I would like to make a resume tape. I would like to shoot a stand up when you and your photographer have time. I would like to learn how to write. I would like to learn how to produce. Be direct and be concise. 

If you are unsure, ask. And always carry a notepad and pen with you. You're here to learn and remember. And unless you have a kick ass memory, write some stuff down. 

Read local and national news websites and have a clue what's going on around you.

And if you are worried, have faith. If you saw how broke down I looked and sounded when I first started, oooh girl, you will know that tenacity and persistence actually pay off. 

I will find a picture of me from my intern era and post it someday when I've had too much to drink. It might be a while, since I don't really drink. I don't have that enzyme that breaks down alcohol. So I look like I've been badly sunburned. Not cute.


Asian Makeup

You would think after nearly 10 years in TV, and 8 years of experimenting with makeup before that, I would've figured it out by now. But after returning from maternity leave, and subscribing to Comcast HD, I realized I needed some H to the E-L-P. I was looking pale, wan and washed out. I'd been blog stalking wedding photog Jennifer Skog and saw that she worked with Thi Cosmetics, a brand created by Vietnamese makeup artist Taylor Pham. Her line specializes in Asian skintones and the products looked really natural and pretty, with nice coverage.

Confession: I've never had my makeup professionally done before. Well, once a lady touched up my makeup before a shoot, but I've never gone to a makeup artist or counter or MAC store and sat down to have someone go at it with their products. Have you seen the women that walk away from those experiences? They always look like clowns to me. But I was game this time because this makeup was FABA. My spin on FUBU. For Asians By Asians. And I was not disappointed! Nor did I leave looking like Bozo. Double plus.

This is Grace, a Korean Marvin. She had feeee-yierce tats, including one of her cat's face that looked like a photo of a cat's face. Apparently her tattoo artist is in talks to join LA Ink. Grace taught me how to use concealer. And gently suggested it was time to grow up, and apply eye cream, to which my fine lines and I sighed and nodded in agreement.

No, I am not chewing tobacco here. This is me requesting that my husband take some photos of the studio and 'action' shots. Which he did, after I threatened to confiscate his Palm Pre and stash it in my pants. He was engrossed in trying to install some program to work with his Touchstone charger. Don't say I didn't warn you about malware from third party apps, tsk tsk.

And this is Taylor Pham, owner and creator of Thi. Super gracious and very nice with a rocking iTunes playlist. She was watching Grace doing my eye makeup, and she kept saying, tightline her eyes, make sure you tightline. And let me tell you, I learned some very cool techniques that day. And boy, do I love a nice tightline. 

But what Taylor eventually did was what no man or woman before her has EVER done. She PLUCKED my eyebrows. Until this day, I thought I had been doing a pretty decent job, tweezing here and there, gently shaping and scaping. But ever since I was old enough to wield tweezers, my mother always said don't overpluck. SOMETIMES EYEBROWS NEVER GROW BACK. EVER. So that kept me afraid, very afraid, of overplucking. Because I didn't want my brows to NEVER GROW BACK..ACK...ACK. It echoes in my head.

But up walks Taylor, shop owner and makeup creator, and she goes, when's the last time you plucked your brows? And I'm like, umm, a few days ago? And she goes, do you notice those points? And I was like, ummm, yeah, actually I do. And she goes, hmmm, do you mind? And tweezes out 3 hairs from the top of my left eyebrow. And I looked COMPLETELY different. She plucked a few more hairs from each brow, and I looked at myself and was like, damn! I looked GOOD. Those 7 rogue eyebrow hairs were holding me back! Who knows how much sooner I could've gotten into market 6 had I just known how to define my arches!!!

My mom rushed over to inspect. And...nodded in approval! Then she started telling Taylor how she's noticed that sometimes, when you overpluck, EYEBROWS NEVER GROW BACK. 



We live in the Bay Area. Where white guys + Asian chicks = 97% of mixed race couples. So many, in fact, The Good Doctor and I invented a code name for the children of these mixed couples. Marvins. That way, when we're at Costco and we pass a mixed couple with a kid, we can say Marvin, and the other person knows to check out the kid to see if he's ugly or not. It sounds cruel but really it was just a little pastime we developed when I got pregnant. We wanted to establish a mental database of what mixed kids looked like so that when our Marvin was born, we'd have a point of reference.

Because let's face it, there are mixed race hotties, and there are mixed race notties. It's harder with kids because most are pretty cute with their big heads and chubby cheeks and freckles and whatnot. But we've all seen the combo gone wrong. The worst of both sides. For us it would've been: my round face with his long nose, my small eyes with his wide eyebrows, my slightly buck teeth with his giant jaw...So naturally, we were studying ALL the Marvins.

Before you say that is so superficial and children are gifts from God and how dare we be so shallow and just for that our next child will be hideously ugly and need to wear a baby toupee, we know and we hope not and does anyone know where to find a good baby toupee? Anyway, it was too late to worry. The seed had been planted, how do you like that picture, and we were not going to love our baby any less even if she did inherit my husband's wonky toes and his birthmark and his one eyebrow that goes straight up just so. Which she did. She has my chubby cheeks and giant head. And definitely my ears. I was staring at her little ears during one of her midnight snack attacks lying on her Boppy contentedly sucking away with her eyes closed. Then I went to my Mom the next day, pulled back my hair, held Emmy up next to my head and said, Mom, I think Emmy has the EXACT same ears as I do. And she was like, I KNOW! I was thinking the SAME thing. Now if she is as poor a listener as I am, we'll definitely know she's my child.

Anyway, this is Emmy at about 4 months, next to a picture of me when I was about 8 months. Our family had just landed in a refugee camp in Malaysia and this was my ID picture. Hopefully there's a big ole brain in that big ole noggin. Looks-wise, I think we have a pretty cute Marvin.