Bitter but Blessed: 2017 Year in Review


Hello, dear friends, it’s been awhile. As you might have noticed, I took a blogging break this past year, but I’m striving to restart blogging again this new year. For now, let’s recap 2017! Continue reading


I Miss Sweet Potatoes

Reaching over, the parents handed steaming hot, half peeled sweet potatoes to their children. One for each.  Their kids, actually, growing teenagers, grabbed the sweet potatoes with huge smiles and bit into them, steam hitting their faces.

“Wah! I really miss sweet potatoes!” I declared, watching that TV scene. It reminded me so much of my family. “Did you ever eat sweet potatoes with your parents growing up?” I nudged my husband.

“Huh? No,” he continued reading. He didn’t bother looking up from his book, sitting beside me as I watched a Kdrama.

“Ahhh… but I love sweet potatoes,” I sighed.

Growing up, Continue reading

Locked. Unleashed. Leaving.

In honor of Veteran’s Day, reposting an old blog post that includes a vignette of one of my patients.

For all those who have served our country.. a sincerest thank you.

~ ~ ~

April 9, 2010

He glanced out the window, then looked at me. “I’m 92. I’ve been through a lot.”

He began to story tell. “It was winter time, and I was stationed in Europe during World War II. At night, we wore all of our gear and slept in the trenches. They were these deep, buried holes in the Earth. I thought it was going to be cold, but that first night, it was rather warm. Then in the morning, I emerged from my trench, and Continue reading

The Definition of Home

the definition of home

my students leaping with joy

Waiting at the gate to board, I searched for my boarding pass. My hand brushed against a Ziploc bag.

Fresh coconut slices.

I held the bag in my hands. It was a bit of a nuisance; if the juice leaked from the bag, it would soak my journal, laptop, chargers, and travel pillow. My backpack was already cramped.

But Ba had insisted.

~ ~ ~

Before coming to the airport, Ba stood in the kitchen, holding a fresh coconut.

“We have fresh coconuts?!” I asked, a bit bewildered.

“It’s for you, កូន (daughter), drink the juice,” Ba grabbed a mini axe, the size of a butcher knife, then hacked away at the head of coconut. He flipped the coconut upside down and drained the clear coconut juice into a tall glass. He carved the pearly, white flesh out into thin slivers, and packed them into a ziploc.

“Drink.” He pointed to the glass. “For the plane ride.” He handed me the bag.

It was a short trip home, and I didn’t get to spend as much time with my parents as I had wanted. Actually, I spent the least time with Ba. It was the weekend before Father’s Day, and I was not able to stay another week to celebrate Father’s Day with him either.

Yet he continued to care for me, in the best way he knew how.

Food. Continue reading

Healing Scars

Growing up in America,
oblivious, naive I was…
The Killing Fields
it’s just a movie, right?

So I imagined.

Grueling 16 hour workdays,
daunting ESL classes,
who has time to grieve?
Oh, the plight of my refugee parents…!

So I ached for them.

Starving in a labor camp,
crying in upset skies, and
imprisoned by the Khmer Rouge,
my parent’s memories, too horrific… Continue reading

Upset Skies

photo courtesy of

“Do you know what we call this sky?” Mak asked, glancing up. Her hands clasped the steering wheel.

I peered through the windshield. Low lying storm clouds hovered above us, against a dark gray sky.

“During the Khmer Rouge, we called it, Maig Bee Bak Jet. Upset skies…”

“Why, Mak?” I turned towards the driver seat to look at my mom.

She bit her lip, paused for a moment. Then, her eyes began to water.

“Because during the Khmer Rouge, only when the sky looked like this- with dark clouds like it’s going to rain, that is the only time when I was free to cry.”

Her grief unleashed quiet, painful tears from the corner of her eyes.

Continue reading