Tuesday, February 28

My New Toy

One of the ways I cope with stress is to buy new expensive toys. Here's the lattest!! A PDA, phone, camera, mp3 player, web browser/email access, instant messaging, and whole lot more. These material things...they make a good band-aid, don't they?

Friday, February 24

My Daughter, The Writer

My daughter Alycia is smart but you'd never guess it underneath that overbearing teenage attitude (she just turned 13 three days ago). I know it in the way she stays up late (like her brother) to finish her homework assignments, ignoring even my nag that they go to bed! (lol...reminds me of myself back then). An hour ago, Alycia hands me a paper she has been working on all evening. Here is her 7th grade writing assignment on the 60s, and my edits. I hope to groom her into a good writer someday.

(click on image to enlarge)

Wednesday, February 22


Now THIS is good candy! LOLz!

Tuesday, February 21

High School Pix

Ramdom pictures of me back in high school. Check out the hair-doo. Wooser, what a stud!!

One of many senior photos. Took a number of these with Kabao at a photo studio. I don't know how this pix got so solarized. I can't find the original scan.

Me and Kabao, back in 1991, our HS graduation year. This was taken at the overlook in St. Paul. We had some great memories then.

In my room, getting two shots in one. Ingenious!! Do you see my golden tassle hanging on the mirror? I don't know where I placed it. It's very meaningful to me.

Are You A Pebble?

I'm looking outide a window overseeing the rooftop of the level below mine. I see hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of pebbles -- black, white, silver, brown, beige, red -- all laying next to one another, lifeless and insignificant. View St. Paul from an airplane window and you see the exact picture. If you singled out anyone of the stones and vaporize it with your thought, would that make any difference one way or another to the cosmos? As we compete with the pebbles around us -- building our careers, finding fame and fortune -- in the end we are still not just a pebble? We're all just living predetermined cookie cutter lives anyway. You finish high school, go to college, get a job, find a mate, have children, buy a house, go to grad school, build your career, become someone important in your field, spoil your grandchildren, and then die. It all seems so fixed. So planned. Life should not be so organized and predictable! It should have a little bit of random. A little bit of fun. And carefreeness.

Now...I'm gonna get me some randomness. Who's with me!??

Monday, February 20

In Search of My Soul

In the next couple of weeks, I will be searching for an apartment or place. You would think that I am saddened by this reality, but I am actually looking forward to it. Kabao said to me last night, “Gee, you look like you’re so excited to go.” I couldn’t say anything but my heart was nodding in agreement. It’s not that I want to leave her and everything that’s familiar to me. More like looking forward to a much needed vacation. Looking forward to escaping the suffocation life has been choking me. Looking forward to cleansing the mind, searching for answers, finding the soul. Deep down, I need to find out who I am, what is important to me, and what I want to do. This will be my moment to regroup, recharge, chart a new course, and plow forward.

My life is so much more complicated than love and compatibility issues with my wife, or should I say "ex". What I face is beyond the physical and into the spiritual. You see, I believe my soul is ill and may be in fact dying. Unless I call it back and make peace with it, my physical body will continue to move in a destructive pattern and direction. Two years ago, something tragic almost happened to me in Maui. Yog nej coj kev cai qub no, tej zaum nej yuav ntseeg hais tias kuv tus ntsuj plig khiav kuv thaum ntawv lawm, vim nws tu siab heev rau kuv. Ever since then, I keep dreaming of swiming with the fishes in Hawaii. Sometimes, I think I'm going crazy. I don't know. Maybe I just need God back in my life. So here's my plan: I'm going to take out a personal bank loan and do my trek...my spontaneous, cross-country, soul searching journey that I've been dying to do. And I’d like to start, or end, in Hawaii where I believe my soul departed me and is now roaming. I will plant myself somewhere along a white sandy beach -- perhaps at the place where we had plan on wedding -- and just think. Think, meditate, feel, cry, love, and heal. I want to have a personal lunch with Jesus on that sandy beach, hold his hand, cry on his shoulder and decompress. "Please show me how to live my life, or take me back."


Friday, February 17

The Last Walk

It was minus 9 degrees outside as I strolled the neighborhood streets where I live in Cottage Grove. The sharp, freezing wind pierced through every garment on me, finding its way in-between cracks and crevices along the body. It was so cold, I had to go back to the house to layer on another pair of clothing. The only exposed body part were my eyes, which is no consolation for they too fell victim to the artic winds. In fact, I had to close my eyes once in a while, even fearing they will give up on me if I didn’t come to my senses! But the occasional tears I would cry kept them warm and damp.

Nothing was going to deter a much needed walk. The tundra conditions outside could not match the coldness in my heart. This would be my last walk before our divorce. The only thing on my mind was how I was going to adapt. We’ve been together a long time, 14 years in marriage plus 2 years before that dating. As I recount my sins, I can’t blame Kabao for being so hard on me. I said I would own up to everything I did, up to and including a divorce. Through the tiny speakers on my iPod, Joshua Kadison had some interesting words to say,

'cause if you're really set on one of us to leave,
I guess there's really nothing left to say.
It seems like such a shame,
but baby, I could never blame you, baby,
for leaving this old story far behind...

I was 7pm in the evening, the sun had already set. I went to the playground where I frequently walk our dog. I sat on a bench not knowing how to feel or think. Walked to the jungle jim, stood there, stared down on the snow then started weeping. Tears fell for two people, my wife and Jasmine. It's a classic love triangle, a sick game life throws us. My closest friends, you guys, try knocking sense into me asking why I can't love my wife, who have been a "perfect wife" so far! All I can say is, the heart feels what it feels. I have little control over it.

Two hours and a half-frozen body later, I headed home. The house was empty—how symbolic, I thought. Kabao was still out, probably being consoled by her friends. A moment later, I found myself talking to a long-time PH friend. Sometimes friends enter our lives at the most perfect time even if you’re just BS’ing about nonsensical things. You thank God for them because they remind you that you’re still human with flaws. Thank you, Papaya and Rose.

Thursday, February 16

More ramble

Last night we talked again. Kabao told me that she no longer has any love for me. Nws hais rau kuv li no: "Kuv txoj kev hlub rau koj zoo li lub nab-kuab. Tiamsis koj kev siab phem los yaj kuv li dej kub. There's nothing you can do to reshape that cube back to its original form." That's a powerful analogy. Kuv hnov nws hais tej lus no ua kuv siab phoob kiag. She was dead serious. Nws hais tias kuv tsis yog nws tus Vam Leej thaum ub lawm.

Hearing her repeated say that there is nothing left in her heart for me hurts me. It hurts more than anything, for I know how much this woman loved me. Would this be my greatest sin that will always haunt me? I now know the invitable, that we're going to let go. It's still hard to imagine. I'm crying here just thinking about it.

Life Priorities

Priorities after seperation:

#1: love Vincent and Alycia. Always, always put their needs first.
#2: build CSARE, fundraise, start research projects.
#3: finish my long overdue M.A.; look into the dual MBA program or a PhD program in management & leadership.
#4: write beautiful music, release an album, do something special in the music world.

Wednesday, February 15

A Mid-Life Crisis?

We made sweet love last night on Valentine's day. But we both know that things are not okay and that we still need to finalize our talk. We still need to make a decision on how to let go, IF we let go. In the last few days, I've heard hints from her how she would accept me back completely if I promised to change a few things, including searching for that soul mate of mine. This woman loves me so unconditionally. She knows about my full-blown affair, yet still allows her heart to love me. I know I will never find another woman who will care for me as much as Kabao. My female friends remind me of this regularly. I grow increasingly curious if there's a secret love manual in an underground estrogen society that I'm not privy to.

I'm not sure what state of mind I am in right now. I think I need time and physical space to sort my thoughts and feelings. Some days when the wife and kids are together, my heart goes to this wonderful family of 14 years. But on miserable days, my soul cries for change. I don't know if I just need more time to heal from Jasmine's death grip or something more. But I hate that bitch so much already; it has to be more! So I sought the advice of my favorite virtual friend, Google, and came to some interesting information on mid-life crisis. Here's what I found (bolded are my emphasis):

The term "mid-life crisis" refers to a time when adults realize their own mortality and how much time they may have left in their lives. A mid-life crisis can include:

  • Discontent with life or the lifestyle that may have provided happiness for many years
  • Boredom with things/people that have held great interest and dominated your life
  • Feeling adventurous (travel work, motocycle) and wanting to do something completely different
  • Questioning the meaning of life and the validity of decisions clearly and easily made years before
  • Confusion about who you are or where your life is going

Small, nagging doubts may appear, perhaps followed by a series of dramatic, apparently irrational events leading up to great change. During it all, men and women ask themselves questions such as: Is this all there is? Am I a failure? Symptoms and behaviors during mid-life crisis can range from mild to severe, including:

  • Boredom and exhaustion, or frantic energy
  • Self-questioning
  • Daydreaming
  • Irritability, unexpected anger
  • Acting on alcohol, drug, food, or other compulsions (PH!)
  • Greatly decreased or increased sexual desire
  • Sexual affairs, especially with someone much younger
  • Greatly decreased or increased ambition (true)

Could I be facing a mid-life crisis so soon already? I exhibit all the right symptoms. Feeling empty, needing to accomplish, wanting more in life, etc. My goodness, perhaps I need to change the focus of my therapy sessions! Haha...(sigh)

Fond Memories

One of the best memories I have with Kabao was our trip to Yellowstone National Park in 2004. We drove home without the kids because my mother wanted them as they detoured through Colorado. Kabao and I spent an entire day touring Yellowstone Nat'l Park, stopping every now and then to take in nature's beauty. I've never witnessed such a breathtaking, picturesque place in my life. There were fresh water streams filled with rainbow trouts, thunderous waterfalls cascading from rocks that's been there since creation, a superabundance of geisers and hot springs (they are scalding hot!), indigenous wildlife like the bison, and lush green pastures like you've never seen.

You always hear about these grand places from PBS or Discovery TV, National Geographic magazines, and scenic wallpapers we download from the internet. You know they exist in pictures, but until you've actually experienced it, you can't begin to comprehend its aura. I think love is a lot like that.

Memories like these will make the life ahead difficult.

Sunday, February 12

She said...

As we are preparing for our "big talk" tonight, she says to me five minutes ago,

"kuv hlub hlub wb lub neej na. I feel like you're not in the right state of mind to make rational life-changing decisions. I feel like you're ready to move on because you've had so much time to think about this already. And I've just had a week."

The more she talks, the more my heart breaks.

Friday, February 10

A Bitter Sweet Chapter

So much have been expressed in the last 72 hours. We've come to a conclusion that we are ending our 14-year marriage. But we are ending it with mutual understanding and civility. More to say on this later.

Tuesday, February 7

Cross-Country Trip Derailed

Three nights ago, I had another one of those hard cries. The kind that wakes her up in the middle of the night. Wild thoughts ran through my mind, including thoughts of death.

Two nights ago, I talked to KB about “taking a break”. It was my way of asking for a separation. Of course in our community, this is unheard of. That’s what she said anyway. I stayed up all night thinking about life, but my red, weary eyes eventually gave in around 7:00 a.m. When I woke up at noon, I listed three pages of items I would take with me. I had decided that I would do a week-long, cross-country trip. It was the trip I'd imagined even years ago, blasting my Blue System CD's as I weave through the Grand Canyon. I was going to get some cash, borrow my mom’s van, and just leave. Leave everything behind. Leave my past. Leave KB, leave Jaz, leave everything that is familiar. I was going to do some much needed soul searching. But KB found my note and spoiled my plans. One thing about this woman, she’s very good at derailing my plans.

Yesterday, we talked…again. Fearing that she would lose me forever, she fought hard to comfort me. You’d think she was fighting for her life. In fact, she was. It was again a chilling reminder how loving she is to me and how ugly I’ve become. How I hate Jasmine for ruining this beautiful heart. This loving heart. Now, the only thing it’s capable of is hate.

Leave All Failure Behind

I was surrounded by a group of people, some of them, my peers. Was this a classroom? A community function?

“I’m the Vice President of Unknown Corporation,” he said. He seemed like an acquaintance but I couldn’t make him out. This thirty-something Hmong man was clean-cut and dressed in business attire. He continued to say more about his work and that he had contemplated becoming the President of a college as a stepping stone to what he currently do.

To the right I overheard a white woman react in amazement, “My god, a stepping stone?! Being president of a college is enough!” That was interesting, I thought. To hear a white person speak so highly of a Hmong man.

The dream I had this morning was disturbing. It reaffirms my biggest fear: becoming insignificant. Whenever I see a Hmong colleague in the news accomplishing some great feat, my body tense up, my stomach churns, and my breathing intensifies. Could these be symptoms of an anxiety attack? I call it my "Leave All Failure Behind" act. For the rest of the day, the sky falls and I become people-little trying to save myself from inevitable doom.

I have always been a competitor and a winner. I refuse to lose. Failure is not an option. There is no second chance in life. And all those clichés I’ve come to believe. I worry so much about this that I’ve developed a disorder called Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or GAD. The condition is exacerbated by an unstable emotional upbringing, of me feeling like I’m always having something to prove.

I do have something to prove. Not to anyone else but myself. I cannot waste anymore years living in mediocrity. I need to feel like I’m doing, executing, leading, achieving,...living! I need to finish my education, get that dream job, find that dream girl, and save our ailing world before the sky falls! I just need change. New surroundings. New people. New stimulation. A new beginning perhaps.

Monday, February 6

My Golden Eagle

In 1991 when we married, my wife gave me an eagle necklace made of solid 18K gold. It would only be five years later that I betrayed her trust and love. Though I would hardly call it an "affair", the brief extramarital online activity profoundly affected her. And she would never be the same again. Not once did I take my necklace off. But in 1996, she took back her wedding gift as if to signify that our love can no longer soar. Every now and then, I would ask for it back. Of course I knew these sarcastic requests would be shot down with anger.

This morning, I got my eagle back. It was placed on her 3-foot jewelry cabinet, the one I had bought her this past Christmas. It came with a card that read:

Something for you...


My eyes watered when I saw this. This is siginificant. Would this mean she has given up? You see, to my wife, I am everything. She asked me not long ago, after sensing my frustrations with our marriage, if I believed in soul mates. I replied, "I don't know. Am I your soul mate?" She answered, "that depends on your answer."

It has been 10 years since I saw my eagle necklace. Much have changed in this period. The wear and tear in life takes its toll on the heart and soon you forget about the teenagers who were in love. I remember the eagle pendant being larger back then. Funny how time distorts reality.

Seasons Change

Originally posted Saturday, Feb 4, 2006:

It would take a terrible fight with my wife to provoke my first blog entry. We are both close to calling it quits. I stand before an unfamiliar crossroad and I've lost all sense of direction. Should I turn left and loop my way back to the familiar, or veer right and take a second chance in life--to relive the dream I've always imagined, to unleash the potential that's been capped by a stale marriage, and to find the love of my life, my soul mate, kuv tus tav. Never have I had so much riding on one decision. If I was stronger and less of a coward, the decision would be easy. But my heart, oh my feeble heart, how it bleeds...for so many people. It wavers back and forth like a fallen leaf in fall's cool breeze. It seems a bitter winter season is inevitable.