Category Archives: Family

O Brother, Where Art Thou?


These are my brothers.

We hang out.  We have a good time.  We look alike.  Our favorite pastime is sending awkwardly close-up selfies to each other in group texts.

The one on the left is older.  The one on the right is younger.  I’m the oldest.  The youngest just turned 21.  So they came to visit me, and we explored San Francisco and the Bay Area.

Here is what we did.

Lands End with the Brothers.  A Photo Essay.




Traveling with my brothers, while exhausting, is a rare pleasure.  They both live in Maryland still, where our parents are, and I don’t see them often.  Even though technology allows us to communicate easily and frequently, it isn’t the same as seeing them in person.  They’re both still in school (graduate and undergraduate), so traveling out to California to see me is difficult.

But when they’re in town, I love being able to show them all my favorite places– from my favorite photo opportunities to the best cafes and bars.

And it’s also good to get to know my brothers better.  I’ve known them both their entire lives, but little things that occur in day-to-day living are missed when you only see each other once in a blue moon or through the lens of a text, snapchat, or post on Instagram.  So when we’re face to face, especially after it’s been a long time, it’s like I’m hanging out with a completely new set of people.

Plus, being the older sister, I am still sometimes astonished that these younger brothers of mine, long thought of as babies, are actually thoughtful, deliberate human beings with ideas, beliefs, and opinions of their own.  It’s like they’re adults.  Or something.

We have a good time.

This is the first of a couple posts I have in mind for documenting their visit to see me in August 2016 and celebrate Baby Brother’s birthday.  We spent part of the trip in San Francisco just eating and wandering and enjoying the life of a San Francisco tourist.  This part of the trip included wandering the cold edge of San Francisco: Lands End and Sutro Baths.

For those of you who have never been to Lands End and Sutro Baths in San Francisco, you need to do it.  It’s a beautiful park, with paths to walk and beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean.  Where ocean waves create lace on the grey sands of Ocean Beach.


// All photos taken with my Canon AE-1 on 35mm film (Portra 400, if I recall correctly).



This is Skylar.  She’s my niece.  To clarify, she is not one of my brothers’ children.  Rather, she is one of my cousins’ children.

If you ask her, she will tell you that she is four years old.  She will also let you know that her favorite color is pink.  Sometimes.  Other times, it’s purple.  Or rainbow.  But not black.  If you ask nicely, she might even tell you her favorite colors in Chinese.  She’s in a bilingual preschool, and she can count, declare her favorite colors, and sing Lunar New Year songs.  Just ask.

Or, depending on her mood, she might ignore you altogether.  (“When are you leaving,” she asked me bluntly the other night when we were over for dinner.  It wasn’t so much a question as a declaration.  You’re leaving, her tone said.  Oops.  Cutie-patootie was tired.)

Skylar Lulu-7

Skylar Lulu-6

But, occasional, fatigue-induced mood swings aside, Skylar is a cheery, happy-go-lucky girl. We have great times together.  But more on that later. Skylar Lulu-5


This is Skylar’s sister, Lulu, sitting on her mother’s lap.  For the first year of her life, she regarded me with hesitant apprehension (“stranger danger” much?).  There was nothing I could do to get her to laugh or smile.  But!  Over the last few months, she’s finally started warming up to me.  Smiles!  Giggles!  Success!

At some point, maybe because Lulu finally recognized I was no longer a stranger, her parents decided I was responsible enough (ha!) to babysit.  We went over for an afternoon of fun and games with the girls while their parents went for some me-time at a nearby brewery.


What I find fascinating about this new generation of children is that they’re so used to immediate gratification.  A photo taken on the phone or digital camera means that you can see it seconds later on a bright, tiny screen.  I shoot film, and so when most kids hear the click of my camera shutter, they circle around, hoping for a glimpse of their faces.  They’re bewildered to discover that my film camera has no screen for displaying the recently shot photo.

I usually bring my camera when I visit and when I babysit, so Skylar’s learned that my camera won’t yield immediate results.  She’ll still pose, however!

Skylar Lulu-2I told Skylar to pose for this photo.

Sweet face? Sure.

But, say cheese? Eyes to the camera? Nah.

She held this pose for a few minutes, waiting for me to take the shot.

No other poses were forthcoming.

Skylar Lulu

Skylar did have fun with putting stickers in her sister’s hair.  I bought a bunch of fun stickers during my layover in Taiwan earlier this past January and brought them over to babysit.  If you look carefully, you’ll see stickers on random locations– on a shirt sleeve, pant leg, in their hair . . .  I’m pretty sure my cousin’s going to be finding Taiwan stickers in random crevices of her house for some time to come.

Skylar Lulu-3

Skylar Lulu-4

Lulu says, “Chee–!”

I can’t wait until the next time I get to babysit these Littles!

// 35mm film photography with a Canon AE-1 Program; the top set of photos in a restaurant were taken at Pho Ao Sen in Albany, CA.  The bottom set of photos were taken a couple weeks ago while babysitting.

Trailing Into Autumn: Sauntering along the Billy Goat Trail



How does one enjoy a free trip home in late-October courtesy of a work trip to the nation’s capital?  Go for a hike with the parentals and shoot lots of photos of the East Coast in all its fall glory, of course!

And what a glorious day it was. 



The sky was blue, the waters were bluer, and the film in my camera was eating it all up like candy. 

How is this even real life? 

The Billy Goat Trail is a trail that I’ve been hiking for almost my entire life.  It is part of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and located between the C&O Canal and Potomac River near Great Falls in my hometown of Montgomery County, Maryland.  



While my parents and I were walking along the banks of the C&O Canal and I was reveling in the beauty of the still waters in the early morning, we heard a cacophony above us.  A flock of birds was flying by, and they were also enjoying the crisp, fall morning, singing and calling to one another as they roamed the skies above.

But in addition to the birds’ voices, there is also the roar of the falls.

What’s fantastic about this hike is that people can cut across from the canal-side to the Potomac River side and see the Great Falls.



It’s like a painting.  The swirls, the eddies, and the roar of water, captured in moving stillness in these photos.




A walk among the trees and beside the water is perfection.  Absolute perfection.  Especially when I get to do it with my parents. 


// 35mm film photos taken with my Canon AE-1 one bright, October morning along the Billy Goat Trail in Potomac, Maryland.


Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland Antics

Snow!  Snow snow snow!

Maryland Home Maryland Winter Wonderland

In true California-style, I am a self-admitted weakling afraid of cold. Snow is painful now.  Especially blizzards such as the one I encountered in Maryland.  Thank goodness for heaters and double paned windows.

I am also way overdue for a post. Lots of movement has been churning up my life lately, and things have gotten a bit off kilter. But nevermind that. I’m happy to announce that my hard work has paid off, and I’m moving on to a new phase of my life at the end of this month. I’ll probably write about it soon, but for now, it still hasn’t quite sunk in.

I traveled back east at the end of February to visit my folks to celebrate Lunar New Year.  Happy year of the ram!  I love my family—they’re adorable and loving and weirdly hilarious. My brothers and I get along extremely well, and we have a ton of fun when together, despite a total age disparity of ten years. See them there, above and below, with their antics in the snow?

Of course, in the time that I went back to visit, it snowed. Twice.

What the heck.

I’m currently writing this from the heat of the southern California sun, where my family and I are celebrating a cousin’s fortieth birthday (Geezus, Jimmy, you’re old!) and simultaneously having the first family reunion where there are grandbabies involved.  Pictures of them, obviously, to follow.

Footprints Deep Snow

But for now, I’m reliving the cold winter morning of last month. I had landed in Virginia to 11 degree weather, and I suddenly found myself bundled up in as many layers as possible, shooting photos in heavy snowfall. I had written a card for my boyfriend—you can see it sitting in the mailbox —and I didn’t want to wait several days to send it, so I waded out into the snow with my Canon AE-1 and shot some shots after I placed it in the mailbox.


At some point, my fingers froze and I couldn’t take any more shots, and I remained at the doorstep, shooting my family as they dug out the driveway and sidewalk.

So much for going on a photoshoot in Maryland. I got a couple shots in DC after lunch with a buddy of mine a few days later, but the majority of my photos were taken on that snow day.  Next time I’m home, I’ll go for another shoot.     

BW Brothers

Also, one of the perks of being the only daughter with two brothers—no need to ever shovel the driveway or mow the lawn or rake the leaves! Thanks, brothers, for being there to do the manual labor! They’re silly, aren’t they?  (By the by, ladies, they’re single!)


(T-Minus 2) A Thankful Ten Days Before Christmas: Mama and Papa Yang

Mom and DadI may be somewhat biased— okay, I’m definitely biased— but my parents are the cutest parents on the face of the planet.

Day -2: I am thankful for my parents

There isn’t enough I can say about my parents to express my gratitude for them raising and loving and caring for me. Where does one start?

Mom in a Park

My mom—I talk to my mother daily. She’s full of stories from her childhood, the newest gossip from her friends’ friends’ friends (you know how it is), and general advice about life. One of these days, I’ll write down the stories she tells me. They are absolutely fascinating. She’s fiercely protective of her children, so don’t ever think about messing with us! Her English is surprisingly good (although she refuses to admit it), and is the result of years of reading the Washington Post from cover to cover, watching her favorite American and British TV shows, and just generally being a very educated, up-to-date lady.  Plus, she’s hilarious.

Mom "Working Out" Fall TreesMom and DadMy dad—he’s a bit more of your stoic, rather reticent Asian Dad. It’s hard to get photos of him– This is a man who refuses to obtain a cellular mobile. Our conversations usually occur accidentally when he picks up the phone and I’m on the other end. Sometimes he will awkwardly try to carry on a conversation if my mother’s unavailable, but THE SECOND she wanders into view, he immediately states “OH! Your mother’s here. Okay, bye.” The next thing I hear is my mother saying, “Uh, hello?” I could be mid-sentence, but he’s already handed the phone over. Ah, but he cares about his children. And his witticisms, often cringe-worthy, were a staple of our lives growing up.

I am supremely thankful to have had two wonderful people to look up to my entire life. I love them without reserve. I can’t wait until the next time I go home to see them!

[Photos taken with a Canon AE-1 in Maryland, except for the last one, which was taken by my Rebel T1i.]

Previous thankful days:

(T-Minus 4) A Thankful Ten Days Before Christmas: Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum

Playing pool/billiards at the University of Maryland Playing pool/billiards at the University of MarylandOnce upon a time, many years ago, when my brothers and I went to the beach for a family vacation, I was lying on the beach, sunbathing, when all of a sudden, I felt cold ocean water being dumped on my back.  A pair of voices appeared.

“It’s a BEACHED WHALE!  Hurry! We need to keep it wet, otherwise it’s going to DIE!”

“Yeah! It’s a WHALE!”

The two little buggers thought their joke was immensely hilarious and were proud of their little prank.  There was a fit of giggles as the two boys scurried back into the ocean, out of reach of my angry lunges at them.

Man, if I hadn’t already grow somewhat attached to my brothers already . . .  *shakes fist in the air*

They’ve since grown a little since then.  I love them regardless of their shenanigans.  So today . . . 

Day -4: I am thankful for my brothers

Growing up, we moved a lot.  From Alabama to Texas, North Carolina, New Jersey, and Maryland, I only had my brother.  We learned to take care of one another, and we grew incredibly close.  When our youngest brother came along when I was 10 and Jon was 8, we were excited to have an addition to the pack.  It was like all the perks of having a pet, but with none of the responsibilities.  And the added perk that said pet eventually began speaking and acting like a normal human being.

Despite their age difference, my brothers are two peas in a pod and get along as if they were twins.  They came to visit me in July with my parents, and while I was undergoing surgery, they wandered Japantown during the Great Ramen Festival.  The two of them showed up that evening with a fat stuffed creature in the shape of a loaf of bread.  It was fantastically cute, and I named it Loaf of Bread, L.O.B. for short.  (LOB sounds like Love.  Get it?  Oh, I crack myself up sometimes.)  It’s sweet.  I’m leaning against L.O.B. now.

When I went home in October, I went to visit the youngest one in college– he’s studying bioengineering at my alma mater, University of Maryland.  It was weird to see someone I saw as a baby grow up to be such a hulking beast.  And such a hustler at billiards.

They’re thoughtful and caring, and I couldn’t imagine life without them.

Even if one of them still acts like a petulant, moody teenager whenever his sister wants to take photos of him in the early hours of the afternoon . . . right after he just woke up.


But he’s a good sport.  Thanks, baby bro!

Previous thankful days: