This Saturday my body will have revolved around the sun 28 times. To commemorate my 28th year I’ve decided to write 28 memories that I will cherish forever. I am very blessed to say that choosing only 28 cherished memories was extremely hard. I sometimes forget how blessed I truly am, but making the following list was a good reminder. If you’re ever feeling down I challenge you to write a list like this one and see how your mood changes for the better.

Thank you all for sticking with me these past few years. Thank you for your encouraging words, multiple FB comments, and for helping me create a small but much cherished community. I can’t wait to show you all what I have in store for 2017.

Now, onto the list:

1. My Birth

Those cheeks! I still have them today.

There was a lot of drama involved from my understanding. Natural labor turned into a C-section, my mom hearing angels sing when the anesthesiologist walked through the door, and other made for movie moment. Despite all the theatrics I give it a 10/10.

2. Being a really cute toddler

My memories are a bit hazy but I’m comfortable with saying life is way easier when you’re a cute Asian toddler.

3. The Philippines

#UnimpressedSam

I’ve been going to the Philippines since I was less than a year old. Summers and Winters spent with cousins, eating delicious food, riding questionable modes of transportation. These memories stack up on one another and I’m thankful for all of them.

4. Breaking my arm at Chuck-E-Cheese

Not the actual breaking, but the fact it happened because I was a super cool 3 year old and thought jumping from the ground into the ball pit that was 1 foot of the ground was cool. I made that jump plenty of times, but this time my foot slipped and I landed on my arm. I went to my mom, not because it hurt but because I couldn’t move it. After trying to manually unbend it my mom realized something may actually be wrong with her kid. A trip to the hospital revealed it was broken. I didn’t cry. Not during the actual breaking, not during the car ride to the hospital, not when they were putting on the case. If anything, I know there was at least one time in my life when I was a total badA$$.

5. Putting on plays

in my friend’s front yard and forcing people to watch us. We also charged them 50 cents.

6. Ditching school in 2nd grade

to watch a movie with my dad. I usually only saw him every other weekend, but for some reason or another he had me on a school day. I didn’t go to school. Instead we went to the movies and watched The First Kid starring Sinbad. I don’t have too many memories with my dad, but this one always pops up when I go through my memory rolodex.

7. The birth of my brother

At the time I was not a happy camper. My mom started having contractions on my birthday and I remember telling her “you better not have that kid today.” I was seven. But almost 21 years later I can say his birth was a pretty defining moment in my life, but don’t tell him I said that.

8. Making my little brother walk on my back to message me

9. Getting lost in Japan as a child

When I was a kid I lived in Japan and though I went to school on a military base, we lived in off base housing. Our school bus would shuttle us military kids from our off base housing to our on base school and vice versa at the end of the day. This one time I fell asleep on the bus and when the bus driver woke me up I realized I had missed my stop, but instead of saying I slept through my bus stop and asking for help I ran off the bus pretending that this was my stop. I had absolutely no idea where I was. But through a lot of prayer, I was able to find landmarks and make my way home. 2 hours after I had hastily ran off the bus I made it home to my waiting mother. She didn’t realize I had been missing. If anything this moment showed me I was capable of handling stressful situations and when it comes down to it I can take care of myself.

10. Going to Washington DC

3 of the 4 teammates. I have no idea who that white kid is.

In high school my classmates and I won a science competition for our region and we got to fly, on the Army’s dollar, to Washington DC and compete in nationals. We spent an entire week there. We went to the Pentagon, we saw the Lincoln memorial, we went to the capitol, I met the guy who invented Post Its. We were representing the state of Hawai’i and we were interviewed by Hawai’i news via satellite. I remember thinking that this is how celebrities must feel, but what I’m experiencing is better because this is for SCIENCE!

11. Life in Hawai’i

Blurry photos of me in a cave during my 8th grade field trip to the Big Island.

I lived in Hawai’i for about 5 years. My childhood was anything but idyllic, but my time in Hawai’i made up for a lot of it. The great thing about living in Hawai’i as a minority is that you’re not a minority. People from all over the Pacific lived there. It truly is a melting pot.  Whatever your family situation was someone else had it just the same. You want to know who stood out? White people with traditional nuclear families. My time in Hawai’i has impacted my life more than I can think of. That’s where I learned the true meaning of Aloha, where my love for Spam really flourished, and where I got most of my street cred

12. Being 1/4th of the Four Amigas

My Birth and 27 Other Memories I'll Cherish Forever

Us through the years. And yes, I did dress up as Elphaba from the Broadway hit musical Wicked.

13. Going to New York City after graduation

The Four Amigas went the week after graduation. It was such an eventual trip that the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants would have been jealous. We did everything all musical theatre nerds should do. We watched shows on Broadway, many with the original Broadway cast, we ate real New York pizza, we took the subway, we went to the Statue of Liberty where we saw X-Men being filmed, we ate Italian food in Little Italy, and last but not least I was kissed by a man old enough to be my father because the Yankees had won. To appease your concerns, I turned my head quick enough so only the very corner of my mouth was accosted.

14. Falling in love twice

The first time was with a guy who didn’t even know I was in love with him and is now currently happily married to his girlfriend of 6 years. The second time was with my best friend. He ended up being for dudes. As an adult I can say with confidence I was never actually in love with either of them, but every person should experience the angst of teenage life.

15. Being compared to Tina Fey/Liz Lemon

The second guy I thought I was in love with told me I reminded him of Tina Fey/Liz Lemon and to this day it is one of the best compliments I’ve ever received.

16. Watching Celine Dion in concert

She was singing to me. Even the French songs I know she was singing them to me.

17. Being an actress

For a solid two years in college I was heavily involved in theatre. This was one of the few times in my life I really felt like free. I worked with some of the most amazing and talented people in the world and I’m so glad I still call most of them friends today.

18. Going to ECD Las Vegas

I want to say I wore this shirt ironically, but I honestly have no idea what’s going on in this photo.

It was actually horrible. It was hot, my friends and I were technically working 12 hours shifts, we were sleep deprived, and there were about a million too many sweat bodies in my vicinity. But my friends and I bonded, I can laugh at the bits we did with one another due to sleep deprivation, and I have a bit more of appreciation for EDM music.

19. Spending a year in a dark room

I didn’t actually live in a dark room but I was there so often if felt like I did. I took two darkroom photo classes one year and it help me discover who I am as a creative and made me hone my skills as a photographer. Only after I took those classes did I feel worthy of the title of photographer. Hours upon hours developing film, being on my feet, developing photos, redeveloping them because my timing was off, waiting for the darn drier to be done with my photos, and I loved every moment of it.

20. Going on a European cruise with my family

I don’t mean my immediate family, I mean everyone. I think our total party had 26 people? Imagine it if you will, 26 Asians on a European tour. It was loud, a lot of people got lost, a lot of people saying “open your eyes” when taking photos.

21. Walking through the streets of Paris with my mom

She had fallen of the bike during a family bike tour and couldn’t continue. The rest of the family continued on while my mom and I opted to walk along the Seine River. I used my elementary French to hail a taxi and ask for directions. We made our way to the Eiffel Tower just in time to see the lights go on. We got on a boat and drank a diet soda as we sailed along the river underneath Paris stars.

22. Spending a summer at camp

I learned what hard work was, I was a part of amazing friendships, I walked 5 miles every day, I rode a freakin horse. Best summer ever.

23. Going to Israel

It was life changing and life affirming. I also rode a camel and acted like royalty.

24. Riding an elephant in Thailand

You guys, this had been my dream since I was a child and knew what an elephant was. I should also mention that seeing my friends and celebrating Greg’s birthday is also a cherished memory blah blah

25. Getting my Masters degree

My mom sacrificed a lot for me to accomplished all I have academically and for that reason alone getting my Masters of Science degree is a cherished memory.

26. Traveling solo to Japan

This was my first international trip by myself. I was scared and anxious. It ended up being one of the best experiences of my life.

Me at the Robot Restaurant in Tokyo. I made quick friends with a woman at my hostel and we decided to go together. To this day I have no idea what happened, but it was amazing.

27. Discovering I was a feminist

Looking back I can say with confidence I’ve been a feminist since the day I was born, but it was just recently that I realized all these feelings and beliefs I have actually have a name. Realizing this I have been able to give direction to my passions, my thoughts, my actions, my words.

28. Jesus

It’s hard to explain this one because it’s not a single moment or even many moments, but all moments. I cherish every moment I’m alive because I am able to serve my creator and savior.

***

Like I said earlier, it was extremely hard to only choose 28 memories. I am very blessed to say that. I’m also very blessed to be doing what I love, to have the opportunities that I have, to live the life that I do. Thank you for letting me share my stories with you and if I know you personally, thank you for being a part of my life.

Til next time.

Much love. Always.

-Sam