High Maintenance.


I’ve been a fan of the HBO show High Maintenance since their early days as a web series.  The show doesn’t subscribe to traditional storytelling but basically paints a series of vignettes riffing on the lives of New Yorkers we meet following a nameless weed delivery guy played by Ben Sinclair.  The characters are all over the map from all different walks of life.  And the perspective definitely carries a palpable hipster liberal millennial vibe while the tone is mostly comedic sprinkled with moments of drama. As a fellow New Yorker and occasional toker, there’s a lot to like.

The first episode of their second season establishes the backdrop we’re currently living in by casting a light – or shadow, I should say – over this milieu of general outrage, disappointment, and fear as we realize that outside of our cosmopolitan bubble of home brews, artisan coffee, and avocado toast is a world of hate potent enough to elect Trump as our President.

If you didn’t vote for Donald, chances are you believe in things like decency, integrity, journalism, the environment, world peace, human rights, equality…stuff like that.  If you did vote for him, well, you’re probably not reading this because I’m an Asian female.

Anyway…as a fan and an actor, I was happy to get cast in their third episode. The material wasn’t a lot, but it was funny.  My character was not a main character, but the scene was more or less getting a glimpse of the cracks in the veneer of a seemingly perfect couple.  It was enough for me to find it worthwhile and fun.

I watched the episode last night. I woke up this morning feeling annoyed. And then furious. And now instead of playing Uno with my three-year-old, I’m writing this.

Every Asian character in this episode was either a side note or basically background. Including me. Half of the scene I was in got edited out. It could have been to tighten up the footage since an episode can only be so many minutes long or because of sound issues (I do recall the sound guy that day having problems because wardrobe gave me super jingly loud earrings) though 30-40 seconds could have been afforded and there’s always ADR to fix sound problems in post.  The bottom line is, all the funny stuff that showed the underpinnings of this perfect couple was nowhere to be seen. Not a huge deal as you watch the show. But here’s why it’s more of a huge deal to me.

I’ve watched many if not all of the episodes of High Maintenance since the beginning and, as I recall, one was a sneaky lying thief – likely inspired by the real life Hipster Grifter – and the others were immigrants who did not speak English.  The other three Asians – oh wait, I think there were four. See? Not memorable — in this particular episode are all roommates who don’t communicate with each other resulting in the weed guy having been there three times in the same day.  It’s not funny. It’s not dramatic. It’s…uninspired.  The only attempt at making any of them remotely interesting was showing one as a crazy skinny dude tickling a girl, who was watching some virtual reality, with a feather.  And she does not utter a single word.

I’m not sure what’s more infuriating. Traditional network television that casts a handful of Asians as doctors and immigrants, or shows like High Maintenance or Girls that try so hard to seem cool, young, edgy and hip but are just as exclusionary.  Hey guys, there are a ton of Asian Brooklyn hipsters. They’re not all freaks or nerds or sneaky assholes.  Just like not all black people are thugs and gangbangers. Just like not all whites are uptight and humorless. Thank you for showing people with less than perfect bodies having hot sex. Thank you for showing lesbians and gays. Thank you for showing women referencing the Women’s March.  But I’m really fucking sick of the rest of us being thankful for just being invited to the table. Everyone is clamoring for each guest to be treated equally.  To get a chance to eat, so to speak.  So where is our plate?  And no, I don’t want Chinese food all the time.  I’m definitely not saying we should have everyone equally represented at all times in a way that would restrict storytelling. I’m just saying why can’t we depict Asians the way we really are? We’re not all doctors or bodega owners or nerds or side kicks or perfect.  There are actually quite a lot of us here.  And we’re equally as human, as flawed, as funny, and as interesting as anyone else believe it or not.

Can’t we do better than this?

It’s probably also telling that on that day that I shot this episode, I was mistaken for another actress by one of the producers. He was so complimentary and thankful until as he was gushing, he says, “Oh, I just loved you in—“ and then named a play I never did. He confused me for another Asian actress.  I think in the past, I would have graciously saved his embarrassment with a joke or brushed it off to avoid any awkwardness, but this time, I just stood there and let it be awkward and uncomfortable. And he apologized.  I mean, I know we tend to all look alike – trust me – I see a tall white guy with glasses and think it’s my husband almost daily.  But honestly.  It takes 2 seconds to Google on your smart phone.  Or maybe don’t gush or pretend to care that much.  I know I’m an actor, but I don’t need to be buttered up.  If you’re gonna be a show that has this modern, liberal, conscious voice depicting NYC, then please stop perpetuating this narrow view of Asian Americans.  I really hope I’m wrong and that we’ll see an Asian with an actual storyline or playing a person with some dimension later on in the season.  [And as a side note, this was a great crew of people who were for the most part genuinely happy to be there which made for a positive experience shooting this thing – aside from when a carful of assholes yelled flat-ass Chink at me during lunch, but they were just regular civilian dickheads not at all associated with the show.  It’s just the final cut part of this that everyone sees and the tendril-like ramifications on our society that I’m bitching about.]

I don’t enjoy adding my screeching voice to the chorus of others right now but I can only continue participating in this fucked up industry if the unspoken rule of being feared into silence is broken.  I don’t want to believe this is always intentional on the part of writers and producers.  I know it’s not.  But how can you know what you’re doing if you’re not aware of how it’s coming across?  How could you possibly be aware or sensitive of issues if nobody ever says anything about it?

It’s hard not to feel as though when we’re all on some sinking ship and someone needs to get kicked off, they throw off the people who make the least noise. Makes sense. Easier to toss aside or dismiss someone who’s quiet than someone who puts up a fight kicking and screaming, right?  There was a time I took for granted that anyone even needed to scream.  Then I felt too tired to scream.  Then I had my son.

I was watching some of the speeches in LA during the recent Women’s March as they were celebrating and emboldening the Me Too and Times Up movements.  I listened to Constance Wu express her disdain for the fetishization of Asian women and denouncing inequality.  I’m so glad she was up there but to be honest, she lost a little power to her punch for me since she’s most widely known for playing a character who speaks with a thick accent on a show called “Fresh Off the Boat.”  A talent like her, she could have easily been the lead on a show that did not have to justify her race.  Lucy Liu is doing it on Elementary.  The more risks we’re willing to take, the more they’ll see what is possible.  There was a time the industry didn’t believe there would be an audience for a female driven show. That certainly has changed (See HBO’s Big Little Lies – but also, zero Asians.)  It’s changed for African-Americans. It’s changing for Hispanics. There is certainly room for more.  And the change is long overdue for Asians.  I mean, c’mon.  Can we at least pay the few that we’ve got fairly? (See Grace Park, Daniel Dae Kim, Hawaii Five-0.)

I certainly did not pursue acting to go into politics. I really don’t want to talk about this shit or open up to being attacked, but it’s important and I’m fucking pissed.  I want to see more Asians being depicted in non-stereotypical ways IN LARGER ROLES because I want us to stop perpetuating these images, to stop perpetuating the tolerance for treating Asians – or anyone – with anything less than equality and not approach us with preconceived expectations or ideas about who we are.  Not all of us keep our heads down and work hard. Some of us are lazy fucktards. Not all of us are cut-throat competitive or meek and submissive.  Some of us are interesting and surprising.  Some of us are terrible at math.  Some of us can even be funny without speaking broken English.  There’s a whole range from negative to positive just like everyone else.  We may come from a culture steeped in hard work, respect, and reservedness (is that even a real word? See, I’m Asian and I don’t know this) but we can be just as hurt, just as angry, just as dangerous as anyone else.  And what we have so far in television is great, but it’s not nearly enough.  Why do I care about television?  Because for better or worse, that’s where most people go for entertainment, and for some, that is a sizable bulk of their education.

So while we’re all clamoring for equal rights, for equal pay, for women to no longer be depicted as victims or seductresses, for Muslims to no longer be depicted as terrorists, for African Americans to no longer be depicted as drug dealers, for gays to no longer be depicted as flamboyant and wounded, yes, there is all that. But there’s so much more too. Let’s do better. More importantly, let’s do better for all of us.

My son is Korean, Italian, and Dutch. When he was born, his first encounters were three women. An African-American, a Filipino, and a Jew. At three years old, he has friends who are black, yellow, brown, white, gay, lesbian, young, old. He’s smarter than I expected and it’s not because I’m doing any Tiger Mom shit.  My husband is probably guiltier of that than I am and he’s Dutch-Italian. I don’t want him to treat or be treated differently because anyone seems different.  I try my best to teach him to only treat people differently if they’re rude assholes.  So I don’t want to be polite anymore. I don’t want to save you from embarrassment.  Certainly, if you’re not going to acknowledge our existence, or attempt to even educate yourself to know what that means or what that might even look like, then I’ll go down kicking and screaming. I think our kids deserve better than that. And God help us if we can’t make everyone feel included so that the temptation to elect someone like Trump never happens again.

Let’s not take anything for granted. Let’s be clear. No means no. I don’t want to see your dick. Two people doing the same job deserve equal pay. Status is not a license to be inhumane. If you want to project a belief, then believe it. Murky waters and disrespect are a breeding ground for evil doers. Let’s do better. Keep screaming.



Today is my son’s first birthday. Hard to believe it’s already been a year since I became a portal to the world. I’m still amazed at how much we – or I guess, really, I – take for granted…What women go through as mothers.  What parents experience and sacrifice.  And more generally, the hardships people go through that are sometimes too much to share.  In a world where it’s a favorite pastime to complain about slow internet service or bad coffee and publicize it on the internets as though it was somehow newsworthy or meaningful to anyone, when you don’t complain or express your pains, aches, and sorrows, I think we tend to assume you’re moving through life just as mindlessly as we are.  I realize just how profoundly foolish I’ve been.  Thanks, Life, for reminding me of this.  Yet again.

This past week prior to my celebrating one year of keeping another human being alive, we’ve been dealing with a lot of death.  Our sweet dog, Sunny, had a growth in her left lung which didn’t seem to bother her much until a couple months ago.  She is actually so sweet, I wanted to name her Sweetie when we adopted her.  But we agreed it might reveal too much sappiness and sentiment to be heard calling out “Sweetie” in public.  My second choice was my favorite name, “Bud,” but that seemed a bit too masculine for our sweet bitch.  Sunny (often presumed to be “Sonny”) seemed just right.

On Monday, Sunny had a difficult time breathing and we had a difficult time watching her struggle.  On Tuesday, I took her to the vet.  Actually, I tried to take her to the vet.  I strapped the baby on, had the leash in one hand and an umbrella in the other, and made it about halfway through the park on our way to the neighborhood clinic when she decided she couldn’t go any further.  If I could, I would have sat right down beside her and waited as long as she wanted.  But it was raining.  Great thing about dogs is they’re always happy to see you and they love you just because, and they never complain about anything.  But I know Sunny hates the rain.  And I didn’t have her yellow slicker on her.  I was determined not to let her stand in the rain if this was going to be her last day on earth.

After some phone calls along with some begging and pleading, the clinic finally sent someone to help.  He stayed with our dog while I ran back with the baby to get the car.  He felt that Sunny was in no shape to be carried.  After a couple hours at the vet, my husband left work to meet us there.  It’s not easy saying goodbye.  And she was really our first baby.  If you’ve ever had to put a pet to sleep, you know how much that sucks.  I’m tired of saying goodbye.  I couldn’t go through that again.  And I had to take our human baby back home to eat and sleep, so my husband served as the portal this time and shepherded our sweet Sunny back out of the world.

Wednesday, we packed up the car and the baby and headed south to Virginia for my father-in-law’s 80th birthday.  A lot of Leos in the family.  Just a few months ago, we were planning on throwing him a big blowout to celebrate this great milestone.  But plans changed.  We discovered that my father-in-law had been diagnosed with cancer two years ago but he did not share this information until he couldn’t hide it anymore.  He went through chemo and then dialysis and has decided he’s over the accommodations at the hospital.  We got the official word yesterday that there’s nothing more the doctors can do.  It’s time to go home.  We celebrated his birthday with immediate family, an ice cream cake, and an unlit candle.  No open flames near oxygen tanks, of course.  Happy Birthday, Pa P.

On our drive back home late last night, another soul I would have named Sweetie, my cousin – more appropriately named Grace – texted me as she has been, checking in on how my husband’s father is doing.  She’s much younger than I am and an only child.  My brother and I used to change her diapers.  She moved back east from LA to help out her parents.  My aunt is in the hospital up in Boston also fighting cancer with chemo.  Grace has accompanied her mom to every doctor and hospital visit acting as dutiful daughter and translator and primary caregiver and all the roles no young woman should have to shoulder alone.  She sends my kid birthday gifts and wants to make sure I’m okay and offers relentless positivity and optimism when I’ve found myself having none.  Grace, indeed.

There’s a lot of other stupid crap on top of this mountain of crap.  And I’d be lying if I said I’m handling it well.  I try my best to lean on gratitude and recognize that so many people bear a much heavier burden.  I’m not dodging bombs hoping I make it back alive when I walk to the store for eggs.  I’m not trying to figure out where to sleep after a natural disaster has taken my family and home.  I’m not in a prison camp sifting through feces for bits of food being forced to watch loved ones get executed.

And in the midst of all this bullshit, I have this tiny person next to me who smiles and laughs and sticks his toes up his nose with glee. I have friends and family – not many – but they leave me messages or call or send texts and remind me that I’m not floating around in space untethered or drowning in an ocean of doom.  I don’t know why but for some reason just knowing someone sort of gives a shit gives you just enough air to keep trying.  I will be sure to pay it forward.

I think going through any one of these things is unpleasant and stressful.  Going through all of these things at the same time while trying to raise a baby in NYC living as an artist?  I’m not sure I’m capable enough or as strong or as smart as I thought.  No, I am sure.  I’m not.  I miss the days when my biggest dilemmas and complaints were bad coffee and what to wear.  But these days, it’s amazing how much happiness you can glean from someone holding the door or just time spent with a friend or watching a little human discover what it’s like to hold a soft teddy bear for the very first time.  It’s hard to believe there was a time I actually cried every day for two months straight because I couldn’t believe how happy and lucky I felt.  I know I am lucky still.  I can walk.  I can communicate.  I have a bed to sleep in and food to eat.  I’m just really tired.  And I feel really sad.

Dear Life,

You’ve beaten me down.  You’ve made your point.  I get it.  You’re hard.  And you will go on with or without us.  I don’t take you for granted.  I hope to have more compassion for others and never assume someone is not struggling or in pain.  I’m really tired of witnessing suffering.  I’m not cut out for feelings and emotions.  I hope I don’t need any more reminders of what’s really important and what happiness really is.  You win.  I lose.  And thank you for my kid.  Because without him, I couldn’t do any of this.

A Confession…


Just because I’m Korean, that does not mean I know or even care about every other Asian person you’ve met…not your dry cleaner, not your pedicurist, not your neighborhood bodega dude, not your dentist or your cousin’s adopted kid.  I’m sure they are wonderful people.  But no, I don’t know them.  And I highly doubt we are related.

O My Dumpling









1 lb ground turkey meat
1/2 block firm tofu (optional)
1 package wonton/eggroll skins
1 onion
1 egg
sesame seed oil
Bragg’s Amino Acids (or soy sauce)
lemon or lime
Cock Sauce (aka Sriracha)
peanut or canola oil
seasoning: salt, pepper, you can also add curry powder, cumin, thyme, whatever you like

In a mixing bowl grate a carrot and a zucchini. Add a chopped onion and a clove of garlic. Add ground turkey, tofu (pat dry with a paper towel first to rid of excess water), an egg yolk (save the egg white), a good dollop of sesame oil, season with salt/pepper etc.

Mush together with your hands or some utensil if you’re anal.

Scoop a spoonful of the meat mixture into the center of a dumpling skin. Wet the edges with the egg white and pinch it closed either into a triangle, some fancy dooda, or go crazy and make some other weird shapes. If meat oozes out the edges, you’re adding too much meat.

Heat a skillet with a couple dollops of either peanut or canola oil over medium heat. Drop in some dumplings and turn over after a few minutes to brown on both sides. Test one to make sure it’s cooked in the middle. Get a platter with a paper towel on it to put the cooked dumplings on.

For dipping sauces we like Bragg’s Amino Acids (or soy sauce) with some lemon or lime juice squeezed in and some chopped scallions. Or dip your dumpling in Cock Sauce if you like to spice it up. Another great dipping option is Hilda’s Peanut Sauce (sweetened peanut butter, fresh lemon juice, sweet Indonesian soy sauce, water, and Sambal mixed over heat to taste).

Eat them all.

If you can’t enjoy life and prefer to steam them, go for it.




#dumplings #mysecretrecipe #EatThemAll

My New Lifestyle Site


what’s gook?

Gook is a derrogatory term used for the purpose of describing a Korean and a digital media and e-commerce company founded by Hettienne Park.

the weekly publication
Hettienne started gook in the spring of 2014 to share all of Asian life’s positives. From creating a delicious dumpling recipe to finding the perfect kimono for spring, Hettienne began curating the best of Asian lifestyle to help her readers save time, simplify and feel Asian. Determined to publish a genuine and resourceful issue each week, for many, this gook has become their most trusted girlfriend on the web.

Gook has since grown into an eminent Oriental lifestyle publication, dedicated to informing and positively inspiring its audience. Gook gives readers exclusive access to recipes, travel guides, fashion, wellness tips, cultural notes and more. Incorporating the knowledge of expert contributors and tastemakers, along with our own slanted eye and uncompromising style, issues are delivered straight to your inbox every Thursday. Additionally, the publication in its entirety can be found right here on the site at any time, making gook.com a wealth of knowledge and an indispensable resource for all who love to make, go, get, do, be and see Yellow.
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the gook collection
After years seeking out the Asian in any particular category for the weekly issue, finding all those must-have items for gook readers, our passion for collaboration and design grew. Rather than talking about the products we loved, why not apply the same discerning ancient Chinese philosophy of our publication to products and create them? Each week, gook premieres one exclusive limited edition collaboration and our edit of a favorite brand. Whether it’s a wardrobe staple, a home accessory, or a beauty must, we believe these are the curated Far Eastern essentials for you, your wardrobe and your home.

#GOOP #consciousuncoupling #yellowisthenewblack #http://www.goop.com/about/whats-goop


“That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald



Top 10 Reasons Why it’s Cool to be an Asian Female






(Art by Liu Ye)

1. There is nothing more satisfying than the look on someone’s face when they watch me parallel park in one try.

2. Most of my best friends are gay guys and hipsters.

3. Straight guys with yellow fever hold doors open for me and buy me drinks.

4. I can magically disappear by blending into a group of other Asian females.

5. Strangers on the street rarely ever talk to me because they think I can’t speak English.

6. I get to amuse myself by making people uncomfortable by pretending to be offended when they reference anything remotely Asian.  For example:

“Can you pass me that fortune cookie?”

“What the hell did you call me?!?!”

7. I can lie about my age and get away with it.

8. Crazy old dudes tell me amazing war stories about their days during the Korean War.

9. Crazy old dudes start speaking to me in Japanese or Chinese and I pretend I understand by giggling while covering my mouth and looking away.

10. People think I am way smarter than I really is.