Wednesday, September 6, 2006

karen chuang


i moved up to the bay area in october of 2004. i knew that i’d be temporarily living with long time uci-made friend vicki and her roommate. i had briefly met her roommate one time during a birthday visit, sept of ‘04. her name was karen.

karen and i talked briefly of our first found similarity, stick shift hondas. i was amazed that she not only knew how to drive a manual automobile, but she actually owned one! she wasn't the best driver to walk the earth, but she knew how to use a clutch.

i moved into karen and vicki’s 2 bdrm 1 ½ bath appt in san jose. i shared a room with vicki, more accurately i lived in vicki’s room and vicki lived at her boyfriend's house. karen and i sat at home on weekdays watching tv, eating takeout, drinking beers, and playing on our computers. karen loved, enjoyed knitting, and hated drinking "cheap ass beer".

i'd jog, and used to run past this mexican restaurant with a goofy name. i think the name was el taco, or something of that nature. every time i ran by i promised to eat there just once. karen joined me on that “just once” trip to el taco. to this day i have never in my life eaten such crappy food, and karen agreed. the food was utterly horrible. though laughing about the experience with karen once vicki came home is priceless.

after a few months of playing three’s company karen moved to alameda, and vicki and i moved to vicki’s dad’s vacant house. in feb i moved up to sf.

after fronting over a thousand dollars of my savings to secure and pay for my new found san francisco apartment i realized that i was broke, had no food, no job, not even a can opener. karen asked me what i was up to for my first weekend in sf, club? bar? friends? i had no plans. she drove from her alameda apartment to mine and took me to the grocery store. she bought me pickled peppers, fruits for snacks, all the ingredients necessary in order to make my favorite dish that she cooked, and of course… a can opener.

we sometimes would hang out and ‘play laptops’. she’d come to my place, or i’d go to hers with our laptops. we’d sit next to each other on the couch and do our tasks. she would work on a spreadsheet while i composed a blog post. instead of talking, we’d have music playing and communicate via instant message. yes, we immed each other while sitting in the same room, everyone’s done it at one point. we geeked out and loved it.

but we still did cool things, we’d hit up bars, clubs, and concerts. karen hated paying a cover charge, hated it! i knew i could get her to come out to a club if there was no cover charge regardless of the theme. and i didn’t have to ever worry about her not getting along with my friends. a simple introduction to get karen and my friends acquainted was all i had to do. she would approach and talk to my friends with no signs of intimidation. my friends remembered her as “the girl who likes to dance”.

when she moved to sd i saw her a lot less. we’d talk just about as much over email or instant message. some conversations i’ve had with her lasted from logon to logoff, some were 2 sentences all day. but her presence was always somewhat felt. there were days we didn’t even chat but her away message would either make me laugh or think about something. i remember one of them was regarding words you can type with only one hand. i messaged her string of 5 random left hand typed only words, and right away she understood what i sent her!

i’m so sad she’s gone. i still don’t believe it. i’ve said it again and again in my head that she’s gone but my head just won’t get it. she was goofy, quirky, extremely caring, and intelligent. the last time i saw her was for my birthday in san diego. she came out to the onyx room by herself to spend an evening with me and my friends. she bought me a sierra nevada, and had one herself. we cheers’d and enjoyed. i'm glad i gave her a huge hug when she left that night.

mercury news article


David Gotfredson said...

I am a reporter researching Karen's murder. Could you please contact me at


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