Mad, Mere, and Papa, Christmas 2012

I've had a lump in my throat for over a week and it's showing no sign of abating.

It started last Friday night, the 20th, with a text from Mad: “Daddy's been in a really bad car accident with Mere and Papa, please call this (random) number.”

And she's just a kid; she doesn't understand about FIRST saying, “Daddy's ok, I talked to him.” I would have done the same thing at her age. But for a couple of hours there, I thought her Daddy and her grandparents were all dead. And I did the Alias-pilot-Sydney-Bristow-silent-open-mouthed ugly cry in a restaurant parking lot for a while before springing into action and calling that paramedic's number, during which conversation I screamed such gems as, “JUST TELL ME IF HE IS DEAD! WHO IS DEAD? I WANT TO KNOW THE AMOUNT OF DEADNESS THAT THERE IS OMIGOD MAN JUST TELL ME WHAT THE SOUTHERN-FRIED HELL IS GOING ON!” And so forth, until he needed to hang up and call a mental institution.

I am clearly great in a crisis.

Vince called me an hour or so later and told me about the accident: they were on a highway, stopped in traffic, their car was rear-ended at great speed, Vince was driving, etc, etc, oh God do the details even matter right now? We determined together that he was, in fact, all right. We joked about how well people could gauge his hotness even all bandaged up, in a hospital gown. His mom, he reported, was all right, too. And then: “My dad didn't make it.”

Insert tandem ugly cry here. Insert panic, helplessness, and immediate booking of a flight.

So that's where I was last week. First in Texas, where the accident happened, then in Monroe, tending to my Chaos, who are all still and will always be my family. Vince's and his mom's injuries were relatively minor, and they are physically on the mend, but the family's grief is profound and colossal.

This story isn't really about me, of course: I lost a father-in-law, a man I adored, who was funny and generous and who never failed to make me and everyone around him feel loved. But the Chaos lost a husband and a dad, and my little girl lost her grandfather. I know what that feels like, to lose someone so suddenly and violently, and I know how it takes you right out of your body and into some surreal state of shock, interspersed with great crashing waves of grief. I am so grateful that I was able to be there to help however I could when that family, who have done so many things for my own family over the years, needed it. That we were all able to be together, to laugh, cry, tell inside jokes, change bandages, clean up all of the things, eat ham, worry about logistics, and regale each other with stories about Joe Chao's always-hilarious antics (the one about his 71-year-old self high on a ladder with a chainsaw and a Heineken – at 10:30 a.m. – is one of our favorites).

Meanwhile, back in DC, my partner was admitted to the hospital on that Monday and spent the entire week there, alone. Just some fun insult piled onto injury. She is ok, too, and following the services on Thursday, I returned to her and to DC to teach a Saturday design camp to some of the sweetest, most gracious people who ever gathered in a room. They endured my scattered, sometimes teary-eyed lessons about paint and lighting and choosing furniture, even acting like they'd learned something, and it was so helpful to return to some normalcy, if even for a day. DC campers, you are the best, and thank you so much. Lastly, a huge thank you to the friends and family who buoyed us all this week: Al, Chris, George, Cher, Eliza, Matt, Nixie, Erik, Jesse, Bef, my parents, and so many others who reached out with support. You showed us this week what real love looks like, and you will never know how much it meant to us.

It doesn't feel right just yet to start talking about my favorite Etsy shops or the boots I want for fall, or anything else for that matter. But I feel like it might be just the thing to start the healing process, so please don't think I'm insensitive should you see a roundup this week about fabulous products. I would also like to ask that you gather up whatever good thoughts, vibes, prayers, etc. you can muster, and send them the Chaos' way.

Here is Joe's obituary, which I wrote with help from all the Chao boys, along with the laughter and mayhem that goes with the territory of hanging with those three nutty brothers. If you read it you will be able to see what a remarkable, accomplished, interesting man Joe was, and how many funny stories there are to tell about his crazy habits. He will be missed like no other, and although I know that time will ease this lump in my throat, and the Chao family's grief, it can't come soon enough.

AuthorAB Chao
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So, my very first month of independent sponsorship went quite well! But I'd love to have more of you interesting people/companies around, so I am offering a special holiday rate for both premium and regular ads. If you are a nice person and think you might be a good fit for AB Chao(.com), email me for a rate sheet. AND, I have some exciting things happening in November/December, so it's a great time to join in the fun.

And yes, I totally know it's already November, so I'll give all newcomers an extra few days in 2012. I ain't no cheater. Hit me up here:

Thanks, y'all! And happy November, the month of my birth. I mean, not that that should sway you or anything.


AuthorAB Chao

Internet, I have missed you! We have many things to discuss, the first being that I'm clearly not the kind of blogger who can keep up with daily posts while traveling. The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of work trips, fun trips, day trips, actual trips, and then, oh yeah, there was this:

Yes, my hair really IS that long.

HAHAHAHAAAAAA. I'm sure I care about my hair. THAT IS DREW BREES, Y'ALL. Thanks to the sweetest and best PR girl on the planet, we were invited to be a part of an event unveiling the first Vicks Vaporub commercial to ever feature a father and son only. Of course they chose the most adorable father/son they could find. Anyone remember this?

Yeah. No contest. You can see the new ad here. Try not to cry.

Thanks to the fact that Vince and I were the only ones there without children and the event was held at a bar, we were pretty much the only ones left towards the end. At which time I, powered by Abita Amber, gathered up enough courage to tell my boyfriend Drew the story of how the Saints' most recent win allowed Vince and I to register for the NOLA half-marathon at a price of $35 instead of $90. (Each point the Saints scored over the opposing team during October games was one dollar off the race fee -- last Sunday they beat the Colts 62-7.) Only, it took me about ten years to tell the story, because I was nervous (DREW BREES), and I somehow confused the terms "point spread" and "margin of victory." The less said about that, the better. But, who cares? Check it:

Best friends.

The other thing I did was attend the opening of Jamie Meares's new and improved Furbish Studio, which was almost as cool as meeting DREW BREES. Following a couple of flight delays and various travel-related mishaps, I finally arrived at the preview party, where I promptly latched on to my OTHER boyfriend, Mr. Nickolas Olsen. The night was a success, the new place is beautiful, and you should all go to Jamie's store and buy everything in it. Except, leave the ticking-striped settee for me, please. Thank you.

Photos by Dina of Honey & Fitz (whom I can't believe I didn't get to meet! Next time.)

Anyway, the weekend was fabulous, Nick and I drank all of the wine and then had to eat a lot of grits the next day, I went for my first trail run and then got a SPORTS MASSAGE at my awesome hotel, Jamie and Co. and I had dinner on my last night (shout-out to Keila and Deanna!), I watched the Saints win by a million points from the hotel bar (DREW BREES), and then I flew home. The end. I've missed y'all, and I'll be back on the daily blog track ASAP.

And no, I'm not cutting my hair anytime soon. In fact, I am not cutting it at all until after the race on March 4. (DREW BREES!)

AuthorAB Chao
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I was sitting here about to update tonight when the news of Steve Jobs's death broke on Twitter, so instead of writing something silly about all the things I love that are pink, I'll just tell y'all how Steve, and Apple, have changed my life.

I wasn't an early adopter of Apple. My parents didn't know anything about computers and we never really had them in the house (although my husband, a true stereotypical Asian, obviously had like the very first Mac). But my very first Apple computer looked like this --

-- which I bought in 1999, and with which I taught myself HTML and Photoshop. Which helped me to start a blog, ten years ago. Which helped me to launch a successful writing career, and now a business. Which leads me to this moment: typing this entry on a MacBook, creating designs on my iMac every day. Now, I am sure I could have done all of those things with other computers, but I know none of it would have been done using machines that were made like Apple made them. So thank you, Steve. I am so grateful for the work you did, and so grateful for the work you've made possible for me and so many friends, colleagues, and strangers.

Think different, y'all.

AuthorAB Chao
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Internet, I'm hard at work on your number one request -- "Dewit: Accessorize Your Objects" -- and you'll see that tomorrow.

But first, I'd like to direct your attention to my right-hand sidebar, where, after a whopping 10 years, I have finally begun to accept advertisers. And what a fabulous group of sponsors to start with. Let's take a look:

Etsy Stalker: Beatrice and Violet, the curators of Etsy Stalker, are committed to promoting professional artists and handmade goods. Their site was created to highlight the best of these on Etsy. Also, they just find some real cute stuff.


Shop Furbish: Don't you know who Furbish is, son? Well, I will tell you. It's Jamie Meares, buying up sofas and tables and all manner of sad old furniture, and re-covering that shizz to turn it into decorating gold. Also, she has super awesome pillows, jewelry, and accessories. So go there. Buy things. Tell her you sent me, so she will give me these chairs for free.


Alphabet Concepts: Ann Burr's initials are also ABC, which means she is already cool. Her site is, quote, "a place to house ideas, thoughts and creations." Now, although Ann Burr doesn't embrace the serial comma, I can tell you that her site is still great. And also, Ann Burr is a video whiz: whatever kind of life you lead, she can document it, creating a video that you will want to watch and keep forever. She also sits near President Obama from time to time. Wantist is the site you wish you had known about that one time you needed a gift for your father-in-law who doesn't like anything but Barcaloungers and bologna sandwiches. The site helps you search by person and/or type, and it is adorable to boot. So, you are searching for a practical, quirky, engaging, outdoorsy type? Wantist can help. (PS, that person I just described is annoying.) Oh, and not only will Wantist help you find the perfect gift, they will give you suggestions on how to WRAP IT. Take that, bologna sandwich!


Tomato Nation: Sarah Bunting, aka "Sars," aka "Hateful Buntsy" around these parts, has been writing online since you could smoke cigarettes on an airplane. She is also: a) my former editor at Television Without Pity; b) a grammarian without peer; c) able to match me glass-for-glass in any sort of drinking contest; d) a pretty lady; e) a brilliant writer; and f) a nice friend who bought an ad because she loves me.


iSockit by Blythe King: Blythe invented iSockit in 2005, when she needed a simple pocket to protect her computer from scuffs and scratches. She hand-crafts her iSockits from only vintage materials, mostly collected from the great states of Louisiana and Virginia. Aside from the padding, no new materials are used in the making of the products. The cases will fit your iPad, iPhone, MacBook Pro, and more. Blythe cuts, stitches, packs, and ships every order by hand, and someday she will go blind.

(Full disclosure: Blythe's main man George Washington Hardy IV has been one of my best friends since time immemorial. He taught me everything I know about mint juleps.)

And that's it, folks. I'm so happy to introduce you to all of these great companies + sites, and I hope you will enjoy them just as much as I do.

And to you, sweet sponsors: We're in love. You know it. Thank you all.

AuthorAB Chao
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I was trying to think about what to write about today when I saw my girl Pam's entry about leaving roller derby. I read the post, saw the part about her haircut, and immediately texted her, "I NEED TO SEE A PICTURE OF YOUR HAIR." Because, of course, when one of your besties is going through something, the first thing you think about is the state of her head. But come on: I am her stylist for life. I expect her to consult me on these things, and I get kind of upset when she doesn't. (By the way, did y'all know that Pam is the inventor of "Dewit"? One time we were driving in L.A. and passed by a rocking chair store, and I was like, "Are you kidding me? That store is only about ROCKING CHAIRS? Have some dignity, store! And sell some OTHER CHAIRS." And Pam was like, "Welcome to 'Dewit with AB Chao'! Do you have a store that only sells one thing? Do you need to fix that? CALL ME.") And then we laughed for a million years.

AB + Pam in 2006 = Young

So, to get back to Pamie's hair, I was really upset that she didn't consult me on this new haircut. I am very invested in hair in general, as you know. So when it comes to Pam's hair, I think you could say I am overly invested. Once I even cut her hair my own self. This was when Al and Chris's house burned down, and Pam and I flew to Atlanta to help them buy things like underwear and side tables, and I accidentally cut Pam's hair one morning after coffee. (It was not really an accident.) So I cut it, and then she offered the hair to her readers in an eBay auction as a fundraiser, which, as you can imagine, went over like a lead balloon. ("Is it a BALLOON?"). It never sold, obviously, because selling hair on the internet is WEIRD. But I kept that damn Ziploc bag of hair in the trunk of my car for YEARS. I mean that literally: When we turned the car over to Madeleine, she looked into the trunk and proclaimed, "Mama. There is a bag of Pamie's hair in here." (The bag was labelled "Pamie's Hair.") I finally threw it away after that; too many years had passed, and the hair was looking pretty gross.

ANYWAY. This is all just to say that I am sad my sweet Pam has quit derby, even though I was against it for most of her time there. I have been invested in her health ever since there was a convention in Vegas about her and I made her order fried rice and helped her eat it using two straws as chopsticks. But it meant a lot to her, and she loved it so I loved it too. I am sorry that she is having to quit, even though I am happy that this means she will no longer have hematomas on her legs. Hematomas are nobody's friend.

I love you, Pamela. I loved you the second I ate that damn rice with two straws, and I will love you until we are too old to drink Blue Hawaiis (which will be never). Now send me a picture of your hair, girlie.

AuthorAB Chao
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photo via

Internet, I have been under the weather for two days. Fever, cold sweats, etc. What I'm saying is, I got chills, and they are multiplyin'.

ALSO, I am hearing that my site is up and down for a few people, which makes me stab. I am looking into it and hope it will be fixed soon.

Anyway, I'm feeling much better right this second, but only because I have a long night of lounging/television ahead of me. Meanwhile, I need your help. I'm about to order myself a Vitamix blender, and in order to justify the purchase I am going to have to make a whole lot of smoothies. So: what are your favorite recipes? Fruit ones, vegetable ones, sweet, savory, whatever. Hit me.

AuthorAB Chao
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