I was recently asked to share my visual story in response to the questions “where are you from?” and “where are you going?” for The Where Project, which was a bit nerve wracking (ok really nerve wracking, my stomach might have turned quite a few times). I did enjoy it once I finally formulated the story I wanted to tell (huge relief), which has been a work in progress for some time. I am a HUGE fan of the Where Project, curated by my friend the amazingly talented Vichet Chum, and it was nice to be included in a different way. My previous roles have been as their event photographer for their other installments, but I recently started a new gig so could not make it out to this one, which was for the better, I was really anxious about being present while my slides were being shown. I’m ok with sharing it here, hiding behind the internet does take that edge off.
If you have a chance, please check out The Where Project, and keep an ear out for their future installments!
The Where Project is a two act storytelling event. Artists, writers and performers share stories in response “Where are you from?” in the first act and “Where are you going?” in the second act. In answering these questions with dynamic, heartfelt storytelling and original music, The Where Project hopes to cultivate and share meaningful, hilarious, human stories that capture where we are right now.
Fall is just around the corner… This past weekend Karla and I went in to the city to see Dengue Fever live at Le Poisson Rouge. Love seeing them perform! They put on a great show and we finally got to meet the super talented and beautiful Chhom Nimol. We also ran in to some friends at the concert, a nice surprise to be able to catch up with them over drinks after the show.
We had seen Dengue Fever perform at this same venue back in April of 2013 during the Khmer New Year as part of Season of Cambodia (a festival highlighting Khmer arts and culture through out NYC). It was a wonderful experience then because, not only did they rock out the show, we made new friends in the audience and even got to hang out with author Loung Ung of First They Killed My Father (which is being adopted in to a motion picture directed by Angelina Jolie). Long Ung’s book really opened my eyes to the experience of surviving the Killing Fields, so I’ve always been a fan. So honored when she was standing right next to us and didn’t mind me being a little star struck, instead she joined us in rocking out to the show. There really are not a lot of Cambodians in NYC, so the few Cambodian concert goers that night were clustered in the same, front, right standing row, and we all sort of gravitate towards each other trying to find solidarity in our similar background.
In our quest of connecting with other Khmers in the audience, we ended up befriending this lively Cambodian family who grew up in NYC. It was a loud and crowded club, but this woman opened up and told me this amazing story about how she and her siblings came to be where they were. After losing their parents in the genocide and escaping the khmer rouge, they were sponsored by a church organization that resettled them to a small apartment in the Bronx. Here is this family of young kids, post trauma, on their own in NYC, who don’t know the language and don’t even know where to get groceries or understand how to get around. So every day her brother would stand outside waiting on the side of the street, which caused the neighbors to worry that he might be a drug dealer or something else. Luckily, this man in the building took the time to knock on their door rather than calling the cops and what he found was a family of young refugees who were left on their own. When he realized that, he decided to take action and adopt them. Here they are now, over 30 years later, in NYC listening to a band that idolizes Khmer music and reviving the sounds that were almost lost to an era of violence. I was so deeply touched and inspired by the magic of that night.
Back to this same venue and Dengue still put on a phenomenal show.
Multiple day wedding for the Roeun family! My brother finally made it official and married his long time girlfriend this past weekend. Several family members came in from out of town to share in this day. So nice to see how big our family has gotten.
The bride and groom did a traditional Khmer ceremony on Friday, multiple costume changes and all at the bride’s home. I served as the family photographer for the day, Karla served as one of the bridesmaids. There was a live traditional Khmer wedding band that accompanied the different parts of the ceremony. It was absolutely beautiful to see the different wedding acts.
Then on Saturday followed the big American style wedding and reception with over 400 guests in attendance. Karla and I were honored to both be bridesmaids for this one. A lot of dancing, a lot of people, such a crazy fun night. I only wished my father was alive to come and join in the celebration. It was really nice to see my oldest brother Pek fulfill the role of my father and accompany my mother alongside everything.
Very cool brewery and highly recommend a visit if you’re interested in science, or beer, or just the science of beer! Definitely take the tour, it’s fairly inexpensive, you’ll learn a lot, and a plus, they give you beer to try! I love how they turned around the old historic US Baird building in to this beautiful factory and pumped so much life back in to it. It’s really impressive that they just started brewing a couple years ago (still considered a start up), but they already have expansions on the way and putting out some great craft beers.
We ordered a flight and found that Karla and I are partial to the Honeyspot Road White IPA, it had a nice clean crisp taste with a smooth sweet aroma to it. So so good on a hot summer day. Enjoyed it with some unhealthy fried goodness and serious layered baked potatoes from The Spud Stud food truck, parked outside for your convenience. (Check out the Two Roads website for their food truck schedule)
Great visit, and from their website, looks like they have lot going on, so if you like good brews, definitely check them out.
It was really hard to take good pictures with beer in hand, and beer on brain = tipsy.
Grab a beer and have a seat at Two Roads
All kinds of brews!
The Honeyspot hits the spot!
I suggest you try them all.
Samples for everyone!
What do you see in there?
The foam is a good thing.
wanna try some veggie mite…
almost my last name, almost…
Supporting the local brewery with Two Roads gear from the shop.
A swanky food-centric birthday party got me photo gigging at Blue Hill At Stone Barns. Such a gorgeous place on an absolutely lovely day. A very big Happy Birthday to our friend Tim! And a big thank you to Tim and Christine for the honor of documenting the day. We had such a great time with his band of merry friends. The food, the setting, and the company were all amazing.
Back in September I had a post about visiting an uncle in Lowell, he has since lost his battle with cancer. This weekend we were up there to pay our respect to him and his family.
In khmer tradition, the son or grandson of the deceased person would be required to shave their head and become a monk during the period of the funeral taking place. His younger son took on that role of becoming a monk in honor of his father and his daughter-in-law read read a nice eulogy for him. We made our offerings to send good karma in to his next life and sat in prayer with the monks, it was a very nice, peaceful ceremony.
I was also impressed with how well the funeral home coordinated with the khmer community in organizing that the proper services take place with respect to our traditions. From transportation from temple to the crematorium, it was all very well organized, the local businesses work really well in understanding the large khmer community in Lowell.
May he rest in peace, and his soul continue on to the next life.
This year, our Khmer community in CT is bringing back a big celebration for the Cambodian New Year. Unfortunately, I’ll be missing out on it, traveling to Savannah, GA. I’m proud that the community has come together in such a way to honor and celebrate for all. It’s a wonderful thing and really great for the next generation to celebrate their heritage and traditions. It shows how strong our community is and dedicated to rebuilding after all that was lost.
This year also marks the 40th anniversary of the Khmer Rouge takeover of Cambodia. April 17th, 1975, when my parents were in their early 20’s with two kids in tow, they were forced to leave their home in to the wrath of Angkar. Where, eventually, 2 million people would perish, including my two sisters among many other family members.
Those were the events that lead my parents to the U.S. When they escaped to the refugee camps, my parents decided they should start their new life in America. I can’t imagine going through what they went through and to pack up with nothing but their children and the traumatic experiences they just lived through… it’s incredibly brave and inspiring.
My parents wanted us to have a better life, and in my opinion they achieved that. I am very fortunate to have the freedom and opportunities that this world presented me. I know my family went through unimaginable hardship to get us here, suffered severe losses, but still pulled through so that I can be here today.
Now, 40 years later, we must always remember and honor those that haven fallen under the hands of such cruelty. Take time to pay our respects for those loved ones, lost and still with us today. We must also celebrate life by ringing in the new year with much gratitude and happiness, because those before us would want us to live our life going forward. And still among us, the generation that carries deep scars from their wounds under the Khmer Rouge, recognize those wounds, and be inspired by the bravery that brought them here. Get to know their legacy, their strength, and understand that’s where we come from.