Monday, September 22, 2008

the election keeps me up at night . . .

. . . as does my job. i'm wrapping up a fun-filled weekend by getting home from the office after 1 am early monday morning (after a near all-nighter on saturday night too), with an 8 am conference call to follow. alas, my hours at the office go with the whole "lawyer" territory, so i shall not complain. but i digress. the point of this post is to encourage you to pick up the latest issue of rolling stone (oct. 2, 2008). i just read the article titled "mad dog palin" during my car ride home and it got me all fired up. although matt taibbi's often over-the-top pieces on religion have the tendency to irk me, overall i love his (angry, sarcastic, hilarious) writing. please take the time to read his piece on sarah palin. it's not available online yet, but is well worth the price of the magazine (or a quick read at the grocery store if you're feeling frugal). i've had my panties in a bunch over palin over the past few weeks and i'm pleased to see that someone else does too. until you're able to read the article for yourself, check out this quick little sidebar that accompanied the taibbi article.

this snl skit was pretty good too. tina fey = comic genius (she may look like palin, but she sure brings a lot more to the table!)

seriously, read the article. i'm even willing to mail my copy of the article to anyone who is interested.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

too little, too late?

Late last night I read a short piece in the New York Times about the U.S.'s recent pledge of $1.8 million to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. The ECCC is a hybrid court system (a combination of United Nations and Cambodian efforts) tasked with the responsibility of trying the surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge for atrocities committed in Cambodia between April 1975 - January 1979.

Most of you are likely familiar with what I mean by "atrocities," but for those who are not familiar and are interested in learning in greater detail, I recommend A History of Cambodia (David Chandler) and The Pol Pot Regime (Ben Kiernan). Or, if you're interested in a quicker tutorial, read the relevant portion of A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide (Samantha Powers) (which is one of my favorite books and definitely worth reading in its entirety) or watching the movie The Killing Fields (this is the really easy way out, but I still find the movie worth watching, especially for the Sam Waterston/Haing Ngor combo).

My mom and dad lost almost their all of their immediate family members (both sets of parents, seven out of nine siblings, plus countless extended family and friends) during the Khmer Rouge regime and the preceding bombings of the country. I cannot begin to describe what my parents or other Cambodians went through because now, even after many years of trying to wrap my mind around it, I cannot even begin to surmise what that level of loss might feel like. There are certain acts that speak volumes on their own and provide lucid illustrations of what loss looks like: My parents' prolonged silence when they are struck by certain memories at inopportune moments; my surviving aunties' matter-of-fact manner of discussing horrific acts committed against and in front of them; every one's intense dedication to family and community . . . . well, sometimes loss simply cannot be articulated through words alone.

I don't mean to use this post to dwell upon my family's personal losses, but I must first say that it is possible to miss something that you never had. There is not a day that goes by where I don't find myself thinking of my family, of our people, and allow myself to acknowledge --- even if only for a fleeting moment --- that pang of loss that stems from a recognition of an absence in my life. I may not have ever met my grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins and others, but their absence has played a significant role in shaping who I am today.

But I digress. Back to the article. I'm pleased to see that the U.S. will provide some financial support to the ECCC, especially since the tribunal has made some steps to adhere to guidelines established by the international community (in an effort to combat corruption, etc). However, I'm still left with the question of whether this tribunal as a whole is simply too little, too late? Can justice truly be served decades after the commission of heinous crimes, after the main instigators of the crimes lived free to die of natural causes?

This is something I hope you'll contemplate. I have many more thoughts on this (no surprise), but I'll have to pause here for now. Bedtime calls, and an early day at the office awaits . . . .

Sunday, September 14, 2008

10 year high school reunion. yes, i'm that old!

Last weekend, Nick and I flew back home to the 'Couve for a 3-day weekend in order to attend my high school reunion. First, I can scarcely believe that 10 years have already passed since I graduated from high school. A lot has changed since then, but at the core I feel like the same person. The party was held in Troutdale, Oregon at McMenamins Edgefield. I thought the venue was pretty great. There was even a rockin' concert going on that night (Black Crowes?), but the focus for us was definitely the reunion.
Although the event was pretty well attended, with between 100 - 150 folks there, given the huge size of our class (600+), attendance was fairly low. I definitely wish that more folks had showed up, at least from a better cross-section of our school! But planning this sort of event is terribly difficult to do, and the organizers did a good job. I was especially happy to see folks in my core group of high school friends, most of whom I've known since junior high:

These folks were my oasis during high school. The most kind, funny, caring, supportive and smart folks you could ever dream of as friends. Seeing the group together over the weekend reminded me how lucky I was to have such amazing, well-rounded folks as my closest friends during high school. I'm glad that a small handful of us still keep in touch --- the girls' trip some of us took to Aruba last year was such fun, I can't wait to start planning the next one (Greece, maybe?). All I know is that I plan on keeping in touch with these folks; they're far too important to drift away from.

It was also nice seeing friends from back in the day that I've lost touch with. Everyone is so grown up now --- most are married, many have babies, all were nice to talk to, even after all of these years!
My best friend (who I will refer to as "Bestie" until or if she gives me permission to use her first name) is even more gorgeous than before (if that's even possible)! I made them do the old "prom '98" pose, which seemed fitting given the occasion. It's the closest I'll get to the prom for a long time.

I've known these two crazy kids since we were in the 7th grade and they both lived right down the street from my family. I can hardly believe that they're all grown and married to each other now. TY is truly one of the kindest souls you'll ever meet, and EY is a great fit for him. JV is one of the sweetest women I know from high school. I hope to keep in better contact with her from now on. Thank goodness for MySpace (or Facebook, which I am still hesitant to join).
Just a small sampling of pictures. I also wanted an excuse to post the picture directly above. J-town looks ridiculously cute (as always!) and Jenn looks like she's having way too much fun!

All in all, Nick and I had a fabulous time. He was especially stoked to meet many of the people I talk about as being a pivotal part of my life back in the day. And they love meeting him too (how could they not?). The organizers did a great job, especially considering how much work goes into that kind of event and the number of people they had to try to get to attend the event.

The next day, my family, Nick and I went for a quick trip to the Rose Gardens in Portland. The flowers were still in full bloom, and absolutely gorgeous!
A close family friend was visiting from Cambodia, and she was astounded by the flowers --- given Cambodia's tropical climate, roses are something she has rarely seen. It was sweet to see how excited she was about something as simple as flowers.

Later that day, Nick and I joined the core group of high school folks for lunch at Panera Bread (I miss suburban food chains sometimes --- it's in my roots!). Given all of the folks who were at the reunion the night before, it was a nice to sit down and catch up in a quieter environment. Me, being the sentimental cheeseball that I am, made everyone (+ significant others, where applicable) pose for a picture outside of the restaurant.
After visiting another friend at her baby boy's second birthday party, we cleaned up and joined my family, Bestie and Mr. Bestie, and about 200 folks from the Portland/Vancouver Cambodian community for a party honoring a dear family friend due to his retirement from Costco. As per Khmer tradition, there was tons of food, plenty of Hennesee, and enthusiastic dancing for hours and hours.
Taking a break from eating for a quick picture.Mr. Bestie was a little too excited about winning one of the Hannah Montana door prizes.
My parents cutting a rug, which is one of their favorite things to do.

The next morning, Nick and I (and our bleary eyes) flew out of PDX around 6 am. The weekend was a whirlwind, and I'm terribly pleased that we were able to make it back for the short visit.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

my first blog, my first post!

I love the fall season --- the crisp air in the mornings, leaves changing colors overhead, an extra layer of clothes to start the day . . . Maybe it's because it I'm still pretty fresh out of school, but this time of year symbolizes a fresh start to me even moreso than the beginning of a new calendar year. With that in mind, I decided it was about time I finally committed to starting a blog. I've had lots and ups and downs over the past few years, and for the first time in a long time my life is feeling settled enough where I can take the time to collect my thoughts and share what's going on with me. I know the whole idea is a bit self-indulgent, but I do think it's a pretty good way to keep in touch!

I hope to post fairly frequently, maybe once a week? That may be a lofty goal, but one that I will try to accomplish. We'll see how well I do, especially with work getting busier and busier now that summer is over. I'll probably do a bunch in the next few days to recap some recent events.

Anyway, I'm happy to finally start doing this and hope to have at least a few folks read my posts. Thanks for indulging me! : )