Monday, September 25

This morning, we saw a marriage therapist. It is a good start to try to forget all that's happened in the past year.

My "Shelly Bunny" wrote this poem a few days ago. Frankly, I am surprised by her writing. I love it.

The beauty of a man

is not in the sound of his voice,

or in the way that he touches.


The beauty of a man

is not in the way he smiles,

or in the way that he looks.


The beauty of a man

is the way he loves me,

not because of my beauty,

but because of who I am.

Wednesday, July 12

Pib kho kuv lub neej

if you can't read hmong, cut and paste the text below here: and have it read to you.

ib ntus no tsis tau sau kub blog li lawm. muaj ntau yam uas tau tshwm sim tiamsis tsis tau sau xwb.

kuv yuav sau ntawv hmoob vim hais tias kuv yuav xav li hmoob xav. peb phaj generation ces kawm struggle between hmoob thiab meskas lub kev ua neej. xav ua li hmoob los tsis qhaub lawm. xav ua li meskas los, tseem yog hmoob. thaum teeb meem tshwm sim no tsis paub yuav siv kev xav ntawm hmoob los meskas lawm. kuv no ib txwm tsis muaj kwv tij qhia hais tias ua ib tug txiv neej yawg no yuav tsum ua li cas thiaj zoo. li ntawv es kuv thiaj li mus ua tus meskas lawm---tus liberal guy. kuv tsuas xav txog kuv tus kheej xwb "i no care what you say this is my life." xav li no tsis yog lawm. muaj mi tub menyuam xav tsis tau li ntawm nod.

muaj ntau yam kuv xav sau tiamsis lawv yuav muaj tib lub ntsiab lus xwb: kuv tau ua phem, ua tus neeg siab dub, tsis nam thwm kuv poj niam thiab ob tus menyuam li. kuv yog ib tug neeg kawm ntawv siab tiamsis tsis tau txawj ntse. tsis siv lub hlwb los tuav lub neej kom khov tiamsis cia lub siab ua lwj ua liam. hnub no, kuv yuav thim rov qab los ua tus neeg zoo. kuv tau leeg txiv ntawm pojniam lawm, thov nws rov qab los ua lub neej dua nrog kuv. nws chim siab heev rau kuv tiamsim nws hlub kuv heev thiab. wb tau sib sau kev ua neej tau 14 xyoo, kuj tsis zoo tso lub neej mus yooj yim. nrhiav tus tshiab los tej zaum twb nrhaiv tsis tau ob tug zoo npawm wb. kuv los kuv tseem hlub kabao heev tsis kheev tso nws mus thiab. nws tau mus tham laus nraug twb ua kuv khib siab kawg li, qhia tau tias kuv tseem hlub thiab tshua nws heev. yog li no, wb tau txiav txim siab los pib duab part ob ntawv wb lub neej es cia bygones be bygones. txhob muab cov teeb meem ntawv los hais dua li lawm. start fresh with a clean slate.

Wednesday, May 17

Valeng, an apostle?

A few days ago, a cousin of mine called me to tell me something very eerie. Pa is in late 20’s and was close to my Grandfather who was a very religeous man. She said she didn’t know how to tell me other than to just say it. Pa said that from the moment she met me and shook my name, she felt a “spiritual energy” coming from me. And it shook her. To the point where “nws nyob tsis tswm”. This is what she said to me (I actually took notes b/c it was so over the top and interesting):

“Valeng, from the moment I shook your hand, I felt this spiritual energy. Something in the supernatural is disturbing. Make no mistake that your missing appointment with your pastor just before making your soul-searching trip, AND the stolen books (The Purpose-Life Driven, a religeous book) in Fresno were signs that an evil presense was trying to keep you from reaching God. God has a plan for you! Don’t think you have a sad story to tell. It’s about overcoming them through victory. There is a reason for everything. Make God a priority in my life, seek god, turn your ways, and start to heal. YOU HAVE A CALLING. YOU MIGHT BE AN APOSTLE. I believe that a great prophet or apostle will come from Yawm Txiv’s seed. Pray and ask God for guidance.”

Ok, you guys tell me if she’s cookoo or not. For a brief second or two, I actually was nodding in agreement with her…haha. But told her that she might be mistaking my leadership qualities for something else. She said no that wasn’t the case. Said that she has a thing for feeling these things out…you know, one of those spiritual mediators.

Wow. *twilight zone theme song*

More thoughts

My grandfather’s passing evoked several emotionals. There is sadness for his loss and regret that I never really go to know him. But his death also made me realize how important family is to me. How important family is to my life. This experience made me regret that peb cov kwv tij hmoob Cha is not closer. Nim ua rau kuv ntshaw ntshaw kwv tij tiag. Growing up the Cha’s have always been a small group. And because of a corrupted leader, all the uncles now hate each other—even blood brothers. So, us Cha cousins never bonded and grow up with clan pride.

I feel so loved by all my aunts and uncles. I told them that even though I’ve never even seen some of them in my life before, I feel more love from this family (mom’s side) and all of my life from my dad’s side. The beginning of my speech at the funeral:

“Kuv yog Vam Leej Tsab. Kuv yog Mai Doua tus tub hlob. 30 xyoo dhau los txog hnub no, kuv li mam rov pom kuv cov dab laug thiab cov niam tais. Mam li los pom niam tais Oo thiab tais Ntxawm uas yog ob tus zov kuv thaum kuv tseem yog baby xwb. Peb tau sib ncaim ntev kawg li.

Kuv yawm txiv yog noob zoo. Vim li cas kuv hais li nod? Kuv ces, hais tiag no, yeej yog stranger ntawv nej. Tiamsis ua cas thaum kuv tuaj txog Stockton 2 lub week tas los nov, nej nim sib txeeb hlub kuv. Sawvdaws mas nim caw kuv mus pw tim lawv tsev. Kuv twb tsis muaj caij kiag li los, tseem chim taus thiab! Peb phaj cousin los txawj sib hlub kawg li thiab. Nag hmo, Joshua, Timothy, thiab Bruce pab kuv kho kuv lub cheb tau lawm. Cov kwv tib, tu siab heev, peb cov Hmoob Tsab tim MN tsis txawj sib hlub li nej. Nej puas kam kuv los ua Hmoob Lee na?”

It’s true. I wished my mom was my dad so that I could carry the Lee clan. During my stay in Stockton, both before and after grandpa’s death, I earned tremendous respect from all my aunts and uncles. They praised me and said very good things to my mom. One told me that I have so much leadership skills, he’s counting on me to keep the family together. Another uncle insisted that I help him start of a family business in Grandpa’s name. Many told me, including my grandmother, that it was God’s will to have me at my grandfather’s funeral. They thanked me for the tireless hours of work…and I have to say, I did a lot! Created grandpa’s program, scanned and organized hundreds of family photos for picture slide show, and running many errands for the uncles (Christian funerals are different from regular Hmong funerals). I just feels so good, so right. Why is this important to me? It's not about ego. It's about my place in the family. And it's about making my mother---a strong Hmong woman who never remarried---proud of her family and son. In some small ways, it's also about overcompensating the love and respect I never received from my own father and clan. This funeral was the first time, really, that I exibited tus txiv neej yawg in me at a large family event. I was the only grandchild right there with the elders.

After grandpa’s burial, there was family meeting. At the end of that meeting, Yawm Txiv Waying thanked me and unexpectedly solicited to all the family members for $ donation to help me because I told him a few days before that my car was broken into while in Fresno. I received $970 from my aunts and uncles. I was just speechless. I love this family.

All Grandpa's children and spouses (12 kids)

I have 68 first cousins on my mother’s side. About 45 of them attended the funeral. One of my grandfather’s dying wish is to see that all his children and grandchildren love one another. So I rallied up all the cousins for a dinner at a chinese buffet. Said a few words to all the cousins about grandfather, how special he was, what he wanted for his grandchildren, etc., and asked the older counsins to also say a few words. It was a nice bonding evening for all of us.

Find "Valeng"?

Our buffet get-together in Stockton, CA.

One thing I noticed about my cousins and maybe Cali ppl in general. Most are not very motivated in school and career. Most work blue collar type jobs. Out of 69 grandchildren, only Xes and I have B.A. and beyond. There’s something about California and the SW that’s not very promising. Too laid back. Maybe it’s the hot sun? E.g., I remember talking to my 17 year old counsin, Rebecca, about her relationship with her boyfriend. She had already made plans to marry him in a couple years. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Here is this smart, beautiful, independent young woman...about to throw her life away by making plans to get married already!! So I told her (and her dad) my story and the stories of countless others. I insisted that she goes to college like she planned and not be too serious with the only guy she's dated since...the 8th grade! My goodness! Rebecca's looks reminds me a lot of my sweet Jasmine when she was her age. *sigh*

Friday, May 12

Misc photos with people

Kou Chang and I -- reunited after 30 years of seperation. We played together as kids when were in Hawaii!

Summer is one of the most passionate people I know. She runs a radio program in Fresno, she started a new nonprofit, she's organizing college students to be active in politics, she's leading the 28 missing children effort in Thailand, and many other things. Spent four days with her. She tired me out!! She's dynamite, a person to watch for in the near future. A superwoman in the making!

Oh and she teaches K-3 students!! These are Hmong students who just came from Thailand.

Met the infamous MsDolly from PH. Had a blast with her. Love her outgoing personality. We picnic'd at a park in Sacramento. Wb ua thaj "cool" thiab "stuckup" na She called me this morning and said that we had "chemistry".

Doll took this. These mini-daisy's were everywhere.

More funeral photos

My grandfather, one week before he passed away. I am grately I got to see him before his death. He prayed for me and Kabao.

My mother fixing the inner bedding of grandpa's casket before burial.

Mom and I.

David and his daughter. I didn't know he was the composer and keyboardist in Illusions (the hmong band).

Lowering of the casket.

Mom and Grandmother.

Mom and Niam Tais Ntxawm.

I wrote a song for grandpa and sang it at his funeral.

Wednesday, May 10

Buacheng Lee 1916-2006

My grandfather passed on May 1, 2006 at 11:07 p.m., but official records say midnight on the 2nd. He leaves behind my grandmother, 12 children, 68 grandchildren, and 40 great grandchildren. He was a good man. A man everyone respected. A man of God. He was 89 years old.

(Will write more of my thoughts later)

Sunday, April 30

It’s almost midnight. I sit at a pool’s wayside at a motel in Sacramento, CA halfway across the country, feeling a little homesick. I’m up here with a friend for California’s Democratic Convention. Even though the people here are nice, I miss the familiar. I feel like I’m in a whole new world. This trip was supposed to be a soul searching journey – about life, career, school – but I’m not sure what it is anymore. I guess I’ve been introduced to one too many people, one too many city, one too many motels. Either that or I’m still pissed off that my car got jacked. I go to dinner events without proper shoes, socks, and belts (stolen). Goodness. Steve has offered to take me to Yosemite National Park tomorrow. I might just take his offer. Maybe I’ll continue to head up north to Oregon and round back home. I don’t know if I want to drive all the way to NC and NYC anymore. My stereo got busted and I don’t know if I even want to buy a new one. But that drive would be torture. I’m feeling pressed for time and, well, money. I have exceeded my budget. *sigh* And I haven’t even gone swimming with the fishes.

Thursday, April 27

The Best and Worst of Fresno

Wow, what an interesting 2 days I've had. On my first night in Fresno, my car was burglarized outside of my motel. They stole a bag of my clothes, misc wires and camera acessories and cables, books I wanted to read on my trip, and worst of all, all my Modern Talking, Blue System, and Bad Boys Blue original CD's that I've collected over the past 15 years. They are more than just the hard earn cash I paid for them; they have a lot of sentimental value. I felt so violated I just wanted to pack up and go back home. Equally disappointing was meeting a girl I have been communicating with for the past few weeks. Let's just say she's nothing like she portrays herself online. It's a lesson we all have to learn the hard way.

I had a much better day today. Spent most of the day with a good friend of mine, Steve, who is here in Fresno. We've known each other since my days with Hmong National Organization. We had a really nice open talk about women and relationships (how often does that happen between guys?). Went on his AM radio talk show (Hmong and Asian listeners) as a guest and commented on marriage & divorce in the Hmong community. It was fun! Played tennis afterwards...boy, did I need the workout since I last jogged in St. Paul! Then we went out for drinks and he introduced me to a friend (playing cupid). Wow,...instant chemistry. I'll just leave it at that. :)

Saturday, April 22

West Bound

More photos from my trip.

Me in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado heading west. This is a beautiful scenic stop site. Just behind me you can see a small stream evolving from the melting snow caps.

In the Rockies still. Love birch trees so much, I didn't care if it WAS at a gas station! LoL

Beautiful sunset as seen through my sun shades.

I would be blinded by the sun without these babies.

I love the backdrop here. It's so desolate and western.

Looking out west.

Salt Lake City, Utah sits almost in a bowl surrounded by mountains. The city is beautiful! Very clean and scenic. Here's a small park right next to the state capital. Love the colors.

The Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. This is not that far from Salt Lake City.

Apple blossoms at the Motel 6 where I stayed near Salt Lake City.

Who hasn't taken this shot with their digi cam?

This is a nice shot of Utah's landscape on Interstate 80. It's not as dry or boring as I thought it would be. Did some real deep thinking here.

Finally arrived in Cal. This is 2/3 of "Puddles Over Antarctica", my virtual band. We jammed a little in Stocton then went out to eat. Gossipped about HOL and PH people. LoL!

Got bored yesterday so went to the park and wrote a song. I think it sounds nice!! Will post a demo later.

Finally, my grandparents in Stockton, CA. When I greeted my grandfather at the hospital for the first time, I broke down crying. I haven't seen him in 4 years. When the entire family prayed, he prayed for me and my life (he heard about me and Kabao). I was so touched by his thought, I started to cry during prayer. He told me that if he was younger, he'd follow me across the states just to make sure I was safe. My grandpappa is so sweet. I will miss him dearly.

We just got word last night that his condition has gotten worse. Apparently, his neck and chest area is swelling from air that is escaping the lungs. With so many health complications and considering his age, doctors don't think he can make it. We may only have a few days. This could delay the rest of my trip but that's okay. It's family. Plan on being at the hospital all day today. It will be sad the next few days. Hoping for the best but expecting the worse.

Monday, April 17


I've been in Denver a day now. It's a beautiful city...very new and clean. The city has been blooming like crazy. Lots of new development. Went sight-seeing with a friend and her sister. Had a GREAT time! Ate dinner in downtown Denver and even played my guitar there! No tips though...hehe.

Here are some photos.

Red Rocks Overlook (don't remember the actual name)

Me, same place.

Me and Linda (my tour guide) in downtown Denver doing dinner.

Saturday, April 15

The Starting Line

I am leaving on my cross-country trip this morning. It feels exciting. I'm hoping to get to Denver by tonight and crash there. See the town a little bit in the morning then head to Salk Lake City and onto Sacremento/Stockton. Hopefully grandpa will wait for me.

There are lots to think about during this journey. Love, family, kids, god, career moves, my education, etc. I hope to catch many moments of inspiration. When I do, I'll try to put them in the form of a song.

Friday, April 7

Grandpa may be dying

We just got a call today that my grandfather (my mom's dad) just suffered a serious brain aneurism. The prognosis is not optismic and we're all fearing that he may go. He suffered a heart attack not long ago and his diabetes is getting worse. He's almost 90 years old. My mother is flying to Stockton, CA tomorrow along with two aunts. If it's serious, I may join them a few days later. But if it can wait, I'll drive instead. I guess instead of driving eastcoast first, I'll go west. is so sad right now. I'm so damn depressed.

Rented 4 romantic comedies tonight. I have so much on my mind right now, I'm going to cry myself to sleep tonight (tearin' right now) :( *sniff*

Thursday, April 6

An epiphany

"People love you, they just don't love you in the way YOU WANT them to. And that's where we falter."

While talking to a friend tonight, I had an epiphany. All along I've been questioning why everyone who I've ever loved leaves me eventually -- my father, sister, God, church, close friends, Jasmine, and now Kabao. What if it's not they who left me, but I who left them...or at least don't want anything to do with them after the hurt and disappointment. I have to admit I am notoriously the point where I shut people out of my life completely. And I'll hold a lifetime grudge if I have to (16 years and counting with my own father). This is not good, I know. Why am I like this?? (hmm.....thinking....) I think there are internal and external root causes. Internal because I can be demanding on people (a pefectionist, high expectations) and external maybe because I've been hurt one too many times. After my parent's divorce, my father left me, his elder son, in the dark during my adoloscent and young adult life. He wouldn't even do my wedding and said that if I died, he wouldn't come to my funeral. God, the one person who I thought I could trust, took his side it seems. To think I used to be such a Bible-tooting church goer. Betrayal is something I know all too well. I'll be a friend, a lover, a family member, but the moment I smell betrayal and disloyalty, I will turn on you like a mad dog on its owner! You can say it's a defense mechanism I've built over the years. People who know me know I live a sad and lonely life, despite a normal facade. I'll have to think some more about this during my cross-country trip.

(Betrayal....something I've learned do well myself. *Sigh*)

Sunday, April 2


It's raining hard here in Minnesota for the first time. Vincent and Alycia are sound asleep on my bed in my "little house", a guest house outside my mother's home on her property. I've been living here for 2 weeks now. It's the first time the three of us are sleeping in one room without mommy.

We just watched a couple movies (Ice Princess & North Country). The main storylines were great and all but it was the subplot that jerked my tear. Both exhibit how loving parents are of their children. That we will do everything in our powers to protect and love them. Just watching my babies (teenagers now, but they are still my babies) sleeping next to me here makes me both happy and sad. I love them dearly. Sometmes, they are my only motivation in life.

Earlier in the day, we went to the mall. Pigged out at this Mexican restaurant...oh, they got awesome nachos and mango salsa (free!). Bought a couple of mice for $3, but $4 on food (did we get con'd?). Named them brownie and marshmello. Then went to the movies and watched Ice Age 2. A great movie (funny!)! Had a great day with the kids.

Monday, March 27

I'm thinking of using this pose for my debut album. What do you guys think? Too flaky? Yeah, maybe the arms locking ain't that cool. LoLz. I just love the Bono shades, don't you? "But I still haven't found what I'm looking for..."

Today was a good day. Went to visit a family member's grave in the morning, did lunch at relative, napped, bought hmong sausages, stuff wings and fried chicken thighs in St. Paul, came back home to change (to what I wore on the right) and went jogging around Phalen Lake. After that, I had a heart to heart talk with my youngest brother about love & relationship and my seperation with Kabao (first time I told him). Came back home (mom's) and watched a good movie (Jet Li's "unleashed") with the family then talked to a couple of good friends on the phone in the evening. Yep, what a loooong day!! Wished there were more days like this.

Wednesday, March 22


Wow, I've been doing a lot of singing and songwriting this week! Picked up this book not long ago and got inspired.
Here are a few song thesis/ideas/lines:

"Breathing your breath"
"Refund on life"
"A lifetime curse"
"Things I would never say except in a song"
"You don't know how many Phalens I've cried"
"Women are like a box of chocolate; you never know what you’re gonna get"
"Don't try to be a detective when you're not licensed"

I have a few more song ideas in the voice recorder on my cell/pda. Like a writer who keep a notebook closeby for those spontaneous moments of inspiration, I record my thoughts and melodies in my PDA. I never leave home without my cell anyway!

Random subject change.... I want one of these babies come Spring. Varoom!!........

Monday, March 20

Winter Storm

A few days ago we had two big snow storms, accumulating over a foot of snow. I like to take pictures of Minnesota's snowy landscape, esp on my new Sony Cyber-shot 7.2 megapixel digital camera (a new toy).

I was driving when I snapped this photo. I love the contrast between the brown, cabin-like siding and white snow. Feels so cozy!

I had to pull over the highway to snap this shot. Beyond the trees is the Mighty Mississippi.

Shot at my mother's property.

A desolate field. That black spot out there is our dog, Buddy.

Eerie trees along Highway 61.

Life withering away...

...but the evergreen is unaffected.

When we take the time to examine the mundane up close, it can reveal itself in new ways you never imagined.

Wednesday, March 15

The Big Talk

Last night, we had planned on talking to the kids about our separation but I pulled out at the last minute. I left the house and called a good friend to cry a little. I thought back to my own parent's divorce and how it devastated me over the years. One of greatest fears is becoming my own father, who made me his pawn in his sick game with my mother. Today, I worked up enough courage to tell the kids, without Kabao.

Some excerpts from my talk with my angels this afternoon:

We’re going to seperate.


Cool? Kind of.

Kinda, kinda. (Alycia)

I’m glad you can say that

I mean, I think it’s better (Alycia)

I’m going to live with grandma and Jeri in the little house


Just as long as there aren’t a lot of spiders. Cause there are spiders there (Vincent)


So there is a possibility?

Yeah, there is a possibility. But there’s a possibility that we’ll make it work again, right?

This isn’t really surprising, just to let you know. Yeah. (Vincent)

So it’s kinda like okay. (Alycia)

We’re really not that worried (Vincent)

Okay, as long as I know that. Because I was very worried about you being worried.

Oh, *laughs* (kids)

Not worried.

But sometimes people say that just to psych themselves out too.

No, no, really not worried!! (Alycia)

No, we’re not worried (Vincent)

We’re just kinda like, oh, okay.

I know a bunch of kids who are divorced! (Vincent)

You know a bunch of kids who’s parents are divorced? You mean like Meskas people?

I know a lot of like most of them! (Vincent)

Yeah, I know a lot who’s parents are divorced. (Alycia)

And they’re okay right? They’re not like all devastated.

No. (kids)

But you know what, I was also a kid when my parents divorced and it was hard on me that’s why I was scared that it might be hard on you.


To me it’s kinda like thinking it’s better for you guys. Because it’s kinda like well if you guys aren’t really happy then it’s kinda like o-kay, I don’t know. (Alycia)

That’s good to hear. I’m glad to hear this from you guys because society is changing so much that I think kids today is use to that thinking. Back in our times it’s so traditional when you hear a couple divorced, it’s like “Oh, REALLY!?”

(Big laughs)

Really? (Alycia, sarcastic)

The one thing I want to say is that whatever thing is not working out between me and mom, it’s not your fault okay?

Uh-huh. (kids)

And you can never ever think that it’s your fault. Nor can you have prevent it. Do you understand that?

Or help it (Vincent)

Yes, or help it. Okay? And nothing you do will impact whether mommy and daddy will come back together. That’s our decision, something we have to work out.


I mean, if you guys get seperated, in a way, in a way, it’s kinda cool. (Alycia)

Yeah, why is it cool?

Cause if you live on your own, like in an apartment, we can go to your apartment.


*Laughs* (Alycia)

And you’ll have two rooms and not one.

Yeah. Two. (Alycia)

We’ll have two computers and two of everything (Vincent)


I’ve never seen kids take it that positively. *laughs* But that’s good, right? *laughs*

And it’s not very shocking, in a way (Alycia)

Tuesday, March 7

My Wife,...Hotness!!

She thanked me for making her look better than ever. (haha) She lost 10 lbs in the past month. This is the sexiest I've seen her in years. Grrrr...

Goes to show that looks aren't everything. *big sigh* (Shut up, Rose!)

My Son, The Musician

My son Vincent called me on my cell phone earlier (I'm not home very much these days) and asked me "Hey dad, how do you play Green Day's 'Jesus of Suburbia' again? I forgot where I put my fingers" I feel bad for neglecting our guitar lessons these past few months. Afterall, that's why I bought him that red Fender Squire guitar. I was teaching him how to play power chords (diagram on right). Green Day and many punk rockers use a lot of power chords. It's really fun to play, and easy!

Shhh!!...don't tell Vincent this but I hope he becomes a famous rock star someday (Okay, maybe that's a stretch. How about a good musician?) Maybe, then, I can live my rock dreams vicariously through him. (frown)