A Day In The Life: Voua Her


Photo by Chris Tarbox

Name: Voua Her

Where did you grow up? I grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but lived in other parts of Wisconsin, like Caledonia, and Madison, until I was eighteen.

Where do you live? I currently live in East Saint Paul.

Who do you live with? In the Hmong community, it is customary for the youngest son in the family to have their parents live with them. So my mom lives with me.

What is your occupation? I am a small business owner. I make contracts with the local agricultural businesses and recruit people for temp jobs. So it’s more of a seasonal job. When I’m not managing my business, I work as a massage therapist. I tend to like to work with the weird or cool injuries and see how much I can affect the healing process, because it seems like more of a challenge.

When did you come out? I came out when I was 20 years old. Although I didn’t get to come out gracefully with a sit-down talk with my parents. I was more forced out of the closet by my oldest brother after a fight. The situation was that I skipped out on going with my cousins to the club to hit on girls. My oldest brother got angry with me, and followed me into the basement where I went to do laundry to avoid an argument with him. Since my brother was never really good at talking… it went into a fist fight, or more like he just beat me up and kept asking why I kept avoiding situations that could lead to a potential girlfriend. After taking enough of a beating, I finally told him I was gay behind my tears. Which was followed by him running to tell my parents. Of course they came down and my mom sobbed, and kept asking if I was really sure I was gay, my dad made some snide remarks and spat in my face and tried to kick me out of the family. Of course my mom didn’t allow it, and did defend me, but the situation did not go well. It took a long time, but my mom finally came around, and is an ally to the gay community. She loves me and all my friends. 

When do you wake up? I wake up whenever I hear my alarm. I’ve trained myself to react to my alarm, so I can be fully awake when I hear it. When I work, I tend to wake up anywhere from 4:30 a.m.-5:30 a.m. If I don’t have to do anything in the morning, then I take my time getting out of bed.

Phone alarm or old school alarm? I use my iPad as my alarm.

What’s the first thing you do in the morning? The first thing I do in the morning is get out of bed and go use the bathroom.

Breakfast? If I have enough time to digest before working or interacting with people, then I usually just have a bowl of cereal.

Coffee? I don’t drink coffee. Coffee tends to have an opposite effect on me. It puts me to sleep. The way I say it to my friends is, I’m already happy in the morning anyways. My friend Nikki gets frustrated with me when we schedule working out together in the morning. She gives me the death glare and asks, “Why are you so chipper when we’re working out this early?”

How do you spend your commute: While commuting to work, I usually spend time talking with employees, am listening to music, or am driving dangerously as I enthusiastically belt out notes while singing along to my music.

If your job were like a yearbook, what would you be voted? (Class clown, best dressed, most annoying, etc.) I’d be voted weird kid or most nicest (yes, I’m writing “most nicest” on purpose). I always tell people when I meet them that I’m weird, so they know not to be surprised when I do or say something that may throw them off guard. I’m pretty open with my communication, so I’m less likely to do something passive-aggressive. I pretty much like or love every person I meet because I enjoy having friends with all different backgrounds, personalities, and experiences. It would take a really rude or mean person for me not to like someone.

What inspires you? My friends and family are my inspirations. They push me to challenge myself or provide me goals, examples, or skills that I wish to learn or accomplish for myself. Great friends make a really big difference in my day-to-day life. My brain often reminds me of the fun memories I make with them and I laugh to myself throughout my day. Like a weird person!

Do you eat your lunch while working or take a break? Depending if I’m pressed for time or not, I do eat while working, but prefer to take a break from everything while eating so I can enjoy the meal.

Is your work space tidy or a hot mess? I describe my work space as chaotic organized. It looks messy, but I know where everything is. Unless someone touches my things and misplaces things. I do clean up my work space from time to time just to keep up the cosmetic look of my work space.

What’s been your favorite job? My favorite job would have to be doing massage. I enjoy it because massage is like an art form for me. Artists have a state of mind or concentration called the flow, where their creativity just flows out of them. I enter that state when doing massage and it’s therapeutic for both me and the client. It’s also rewarding because I get to see how my work affects the range of motion, the mood, and the pain level of my client.

Who are your heroes? My heroes are definitely my friends. I’m grateful for all my friends each and every day because they provide fun memories and experiences with their unique personalities that I get to reflect on and smile about each day.

Favorite weeknight meal: Go out, take out, or cook in? Unfortunately I’m lacking in cooking skills, so I tend to go out for food more than I cook. I can cook simple things, but if asked to grab random items from the fridge to make a random dish from scratch with no previous instructions or experience… it’s not going to be pretty.

Most embarrassing moment: One of my most embarrassing moments would be when I rejoined the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus. At the end of the night for the open rehearsal, when returning members or new potential members participate in rehearsal, I approached someone who I thought was my friend from behind. Picture this, a short 5’3” Asian skipping along approaching this 6’5” friend from behind, who was talking to a group of about five people. Instead of hugging or tapping him on the shoulder, because I’m weird like that, I did a playful jumping headbutt to his right shoulder blade. It apparently hit harder than I expected because he stumbled a bit. This followed by a “What the hell?” The guy turns around, and I look up and, and… “OH MY GOD!!! You’re not Erik!” The group of people this stranger was talking to, all whip their heads around and gave me judgmental stares. I bowed a few times, apologized about a hundred times within a split second, and ran out of the room.

Of course I posted on Facebook laughing at myself and revealing my embarrassment while tagging the correct person who the headbutt was meant for, followed with the words, “Why do you have a doppelganger in the chorus?” He laughed about my story and begins tagging all the tall people with his build in the chorus. Other members read my post and started tagging people as well. Finally they found the correct person who I playfully headbutted. And he replied, “Yes I was spear tackled by a little Asian after rehearsal tonight. He (referring to me) apologized, tucked his tail, and ran out so fast, I didn’t get the chance to tell him it was okay.” So I greeted him on my Facebook post. He said, “Hell of a first impression.” That was quite embarrassing, but also hilarious for myself.

On a usual weeknight, you are doing what? On a usual weeknight I’m either reading random articles, watching TV shows that friends recommend, or playing video games. My latest go to game has been Beat Saber.

Bedtime: I have a hard time falling asleep early. So I usually go to sleep around 2am or later. I can operate on low amounts of sleep; however, it does eventually catch up, and then I need to crash for a long sleep.

Favorite weekend activity: My favorite weekend activities are meeting with friends to share in different areas of interest, dinning out with friends, and playing team sports. Even on the Myer Briggs or personality test, my personality is considered introvert, but the weird introvert who has tendency to be more social. I totally enjoy time by myself, but am not opposed to being around people I know and like.

What are you most proud of and why? I’m most proud of my empathy and my memory. It may sound weird to say that, but I do like the fact that I can, or have a better affinity towards reading people’s energy and moods and knowing when something is off. I guess I like this portion because it helps me to realize when something is going wrong, and I can use my memory to recall my actions and view the experience from the other person’s point of view. However, I’ve learned that no matter how neutral, kind, or genuinely happy you are with your words, if someone is in a bad mood, they will read or take any message you write or say to them, and treat it as if you were attacking them. Then you just have to realize it might not be you that is causing the negative reaction.

Words of wisdom to share: Be considerate of other people. Remember it’s not always about you. If all you ever do is push your ideas, your wants, and your needs onto other people and never care to truly listen to or just disregard the ideas and concerns of other people, then don’t be surprised when all those people disregard your ideas and your concerns. Be kind to others, because you don’t know what people might be going through, and you’ll never know if your words or actions towards someone may take or save a life. Also, don’t apologize if you don’t mean it, and don’t apologize just because you think it’s something they wanted to hear. An insincere apology will only make people more angry. Take it from a person who can tell when an apology is insincere.

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