21 5 / 2013
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10 5 / 2013
A commitment to creating (even if it’s crap)
I’ve been thinking lately about some of the pet projects I’ve hoped to start but never got off the ground. A novel. A short story. A personal portfolio site. A youtube channel. A video mini-series.
Anything like that, really. They seem so simple…and yet, not quite.
I realized that part of it is the fear that what I’m creating is absolute crap…and I’ll get called out for it. The other fear is that whatever I do, someone will inevitably point out that it has been done (and done better).
In the days of yore (aka dial-up and Geocities) when I was but a youth, I thought about starting a website or a blog. My plan was to proliferate it with cartoons and my musings. And BAM. I’d somehow find recognition and fame. And money. And then quit my day job and spend my time rolling in money or doing things normal people don’t do like go to a coffee shop at 2pm on a Tuesday. For no good reason at all.
That obviously hasn’t happened.
But what has happened is that since those early, clumsy, waddling days of the internet being born and taking its first steps, there are a lot of people that have done what I hoped of doing with stick figures, MS paint drawings. Even my most recent idea of doodling and writing on post-it notes has been done already. Oh, and business cards.
I don’t know if they are going to coffee shops on a random Tuesday afternoon, but I’m sure they could (and would) if they wanted to.
But I realized something - I’ve been going about it all wrong.
I’ve been fueled and motivated by the wrong things: recognition and fame. Yes, I’ve finally come to grips with the reality that there is a part of me that is a supreme attention whoring narcissist. I want to create and draw things and get that pat on the back. I want to make people laugh, or think, or go, “hm, interesting.”
Really, it’s just a desire to feel like I matter. What I do matters, and it’s lasting and has an impact on others…in a good way.
When I step back and think about it, the internet amazes me. It lets all sorts of people find their voice and share their stories. People can suddenly broadcast their passion for makeup. Their love of cats. Or their crazy anecdotes about their childhood that are uplifting and hilarious.
Simple, ordinary people are able to make an impact, even if it’s to 10 people or 10 million people.
More than anything, it’s their outlet.
Back in college, when I had the time and the energy, I used to write about random things all the time. Random musings. Random happenings. Things that didn’t really matter. Sure, going back on it now, it’s quite cringe-worthy, but I have faith that each of those blog posts and pointless articles has helped me:
1) Be somewhat disciplined when it comes to writing regularly
2) Identify what content resonates and what doesn’t (sometimes the most random posts would get two comments…which is like, 200% more engagement then my average posts!)
3) Connect with people. I remember quite a few times (okay, three times) where I was surprised to learn that someone had read my blog or enjoyed following it.
And that’s not too shabby.
So now, I will start sharing those random doodles and drawings. I don’t want to focus on the fame or recognition anymore. Instead, I’ll be happy that maybe somehow, some day, whether through this blog or ideally through a published work (or fifteen…or twenty) of mine I will have shared a story that really touches someone. That out there, I’m able to make people laugh, or feel good, or reflect.
And I hope that through this site, maybe I’ll be able to find others who have similar dreams and help give them the motivation to realize that they can do it as well.
I’m now back to working hard and dreaming lots.
At least I have this face next to me. He believes in me (for a few treats at least).
08 5 / 2013
Sending a Message in a Blog Post
Does anybody out there remember Xanga? Good ‘ol Xanga. I don’t know what possessed me to start one back when I first entered college as a wide-eyed freshman, but I’m glad I did. Recently, I had been perusing through some of my old entries just for fun. And yes, there were several angst-ridden entries rife with grammatical errors and rhetorical questions sent out to the empty void of the Internet. I guess not much has changed.
One pleasant surprise was stumbling across an entry that I wrote on March 25, 2008 (I kept the Xanga alive and kicking for a good solid five years). At the tender age of 24, I had just moved out to San Francisco. I was in a brand new city at a brand new job. My pre-frontal cortex was still going awry. And I had a small, quaint studio where I whittled away my time.
Even back then, I had high hopes that I would be a writer. Five years later, that still hasn’t happened yet. But hopefully the next five years (and the next beyond that) something will happen. In any case, I now have a little piece of the 24-year-old me that had such high hopes.
Here it goes:
I went to Anthropologie on Sunday to help a friend pick out a dress. As we perused the store, I found a book that was about women who wrote a letter to their younger selves. The women were all very notable women - actresses, CEOs, authors, Olympians - you name it. I picked it up and flipped through it, reading a letter from an actress to her former self and then from a writer to her former self.
It’s always interesting to me to read things from one mindset when you’re in another mindset. Journal entries seem like lost letters to an unforeseen future, and the letters in that book are like wistful thoughts to an earlier time when naivety reigned. One Calvin and Hobbes that made me really laugh was when he wrote a letter to future Calvin, and it basically said “you will have seen things that I never have” and he sniffled and said “poor guy.”
So, true to any sort of xanga entry that I have, I decided to write a letter to my future self and, of course, where else can I share it but in this small little sliver of the public domain?
You’re going to laugh at that opening line, mostly because you’ll remember how ridiculous it sounded in your head when you first typed it out. I don’t know where you are right now, or what you are up to - but I hope you can recall vividly how it felt to be in my shoes.
Sometimes you wake up in the morning and all you can feel is the warmth of your bed, and you squint your eyes at the alarm clock and bargain with yourself for three extra minutes of stillness under the covers. “It’s a gift to myself,” you would rationalize. Inevitably, when you would pull the comforter off your slothful self you would feel the chill of the morning air and wonder how many more begrudging mornings are in your future.
Do you remember those anxious nights where you paced around your studio on the phone with a friend, toiling about your future children’s book?
You would stare out into the vast nothingness, and let your heart pour out in the phone. You would share your dreams and aspirations, all the while fixated on the ever impending fear that you aren’t capable enough. You feel conflicted because you don’t know if you are following the right path for yourself, and quite frankly, you once again feel lost and completely flummoxed at the crossroads of life.
And you duly note that you haven’t truly hit your quarter life…just yet. But it certainly feels that way.
Your friend would offer comfort and give you three simple things to focus on -
1. Save your money, and prepare for the option of returning to school
2. Do your best at your job - learn, network, and most of all, make friends
3. Write. Write in your free time, take classes. Write.
I do hope that, you finally figured out that you are capable. I hope you take the initiative to do the things that your friend suggested. I hope that, more than anything, you don’t give up your writing. Even when you pace around the room glaring at the computer and the blinking cursor on the Word document, I hope you run to your sketchbook and scribble out the simple sentences in your head.
When those thoughts and dreams are scattered and you feel your fingertips reaching out and barely grasping them, I want you to still grasp at them. If you have tried over and over and failed, I need you to pick yourself up and fail again - more spectacularly than ever before!
I want you to finally breathe easy when you spend money (but not too much money, don’t go crazy here!) and I want you to continue to find things each day that drive you. I hope that, one day, you’ll think back on me. You’ll remember the little rug and burgundy pillow that accompanied you when you hammered out your thoughts and dreamed of hitting it big with your words.
No matter what, I hope that, success or not, you learn that you are capable - and you believe it.
By the way - if you haven’t already, take risks. Take an improv class, take an acting class. Go out and do something awkward like crashing a random social event. Dress up, take pictures. Scribble and post them on the web. Stop thinking, and start doing.
Seriously, if you haven’t done this already by the time you read this - when will you?
Ever so hopefully,
16 4 / 2013
The Boston Marathon: The Human Race
The reason that I like cliches is because they are often rooted in truth. I think that’s why they become cliches in the first place. And the cliche “ignorance is bliss” has been in my mind lately, especially with the recent horrific incident at the Boston Marathon.
I think back to my mentality during other horrible incidents. 9/11, for example. I remember very clearly that I was sitting in the computer lab, writing an English essay. The teacher turned on the TV when another teacher popped her head in and said that something happened to the world trade center.
“A plane crashed into the building,” she said, as she poked her head inside. All of us looked around at each other, befuddled: how could such an aviation mistake been made?
So we watched, and then a collective gasp resonated across the United States when the second plane flew into the buildings.
That was no accident.
I was horrified and sad, and admittedly numb to the incident. At the time, I didn’t have friends that worked in skyscrapers. All of my family members and close loved ones live in Texas. Although the world was changing, I didn’t feel the vibrations of the aftermath as strongly from my suburban bubble.
Ignorance. My narrow point of view of the world.
Fast forward a few years and suddenly, as I become older, things are having a more profound affect on my heart. The Aurora movie theater. Sandy Hook Elementary.
And yesterday, the incident at the Boston Marathon.
Perhaps it’s just human nature to be selfish. Or, maybe it’s just a natural part of growing up. Suddenly you have so much more that you can relate to, and that punches you in the emotional throat.
My friends and I were training for the San Francisco marathon this year. I’m more than aware of what it takes now to train for something like this: hours of running. Tired limbs. Sore knees. Missed social outings. All for the sheer joy of running and to be a part of something bigger. That’s why on race day, they often say that you’re carried quite a way through adrenaline. You’re there with fellow runners, and, as one piece pointed out: the spectators. The excited cheerleaders, the strangers that suddenly become your friends and advocates. They believe in you and you believe in yourself.
Most of all, I’m always pushed a little further when I see my fiance waving a sign at me and cheering his head off. He dragged himself out of bed to be there for me, and knowing he’s at the end of the finish line to give me a hug makes it even more worthwhile to force my tired legs to continue.
Every time I think about those spectators, those runners and athletes, my heart clenches. And yes, it is because selfishly, I can identify with them. I wouldn’t know what I would do should I have been put in that situation. I can only empathize, and my heart is saddened that a celebration has been marred by ignorance.
If the people who planted those bombs could feel - truly feel - what it would be like for any one of those affected, they wouldn’t have given it a second thought.
But we live in a world where people do things without regard or without any thoughts. They’re ignorant of the pain that they inflict, or they just choose to ignore it.
So what do we do now?
We do not remain ignorant. We recognize that this horrific event ties us closer to other people in faraway countries that must go through these terrifying moments more often than we do.
We recognize the helpers, the average people that became heroes that day. We listen to the stories of the survivors and remember the lives of the people that were lost. We think about our humanity and we do not become ignorant of what it means to be a part of a larger, greater race: the human race.
I, for one, will still keep training. And every step I take today and hopefully in the future, will be with those other athletes and their loved ones in mind. And I hope that every day, in some way, we can all learn to be a little less ignorant of others in this world.
I read this story on Facebook, and thought I would share.
One day an elephant saw a hummingbird lying on its back with its tiny feet up in the air.
“What are you doing?” asked the elephant.
The hummingbird replied, “I heard that the sky might fall today, and so I am ready to help hold it up, should it fall.”
The elephant laughed cruelly. “Do you really think,” he said, “that those tiny feet could help hold up the sky?”
The hummingbird kept his feet up in the air, intent on his purpose, as he replied, “Not alone. But each must do what he can. And this is what I can do.”
– A Chinese Folktale
07 4 / 2013
An American Girl in London
Part of the fun I have with writing lists is checking things off (it makes me feel extremely productive). While in the process of training for a marathon to knock #9 off my list of 30 things to do before 30, I was pretty excited that I had the opportunity to take a trip by myself (albeit for work) to somewhere new…and not just anywhere, but London, England.
I know. I’m pretty darn lucky.
My manager, upon hearing that it was my first trip ever to the historic island, said that I should take the first day off to enjoy the city. So, without much urging, upon my arrival (jet lagged and bleary-eyed) I immediately hopped in a cab, checked into my hotel….
….and passed out for two hours.
Look at these beds. Can you blame me? What’s crazy is that they are actually twin beds. Good thing I don’t need much snuggle room when it’s just me, myself, and I.
After forcing myself up at noon, I decided to take my own self guided walking tour. Since the hotel was pretty close to the British Museum, I meandered over there for my first stop.
On a random note, these signs amused me. Clearly it was needed for weary worn travelers and ignorant Americans such as myself.
Admittedly, I didn’t really absorb too much of what I was seeing (since I was running on a total of six hours of sleep over two days) but it was a beautiful museum.
If I had a few extra days, one of them would have been spent just staring at this architecture.
This was one of my favorite rooms. From one end to the other the sides were lined with books filled with all sorts of knowledge that a person couldn’t possibly absorb in a lifetime. It’s amazing how much we don’t know as individuals, but how much we collect as humankind about all sorts of things. It was also absolutely adorable because several British school children were running around being British and school children.
After wandering aimlessly around for a bit, I decided to make my way to some other famous landmarks that I’ve only read about in books (or heard in passing from British TV shows). I made my way south and found myself in Piccadilly Circus.
I wasn’t sure what else there was, so I just snapped the photo and continued on my way. It also started to rain, and being the inept traveler that I am, I stupidly wore my fabric thin (and worn out) TOMs shoes that were soon soaked through.
But I pushed forward. I’m checking things off my list, damnit!
So I kept walking…and made it to Trafalgar Square, where the National Gallery resides.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time to peruse inside, but I did my obligatory stop-and-stare-and-snap-a-few-more-photos routine. And, just a few blocks away, I was excited to see a familiar face: Big Ben.
At this point I felt like my feet were about to freeze off, so I decided to find sanctuary in a little church known as Westminster Abbey.
I was disappointed to find that I couldn’t take a few photos to commemorate this part of my self-guided tour, it was pretty breathtaking to be walking through the cloisters and the different enclaves with tombs of well-known kings and queens I’ve read about in the history books.
And…it was tea time!
Yes, this was tea for one. And it was awesome. I wish they had this in the US….
Feeling refreshed (and quite a bit warmer) I was deciding whether or not to continue my journey. But since I had made it this far, I decided to end my pretty full afternoon of wandering at the London Eye, and soak in the sights of the city from above.
To save some time, I decided to try taking the Underground.
After much fumbling and a few grumblings from locals at the clueless tourist holding up the system, I made it to the iconic wheel.
I purchased a ticket and joined the random families and cuddling couples, inside one of the glass capsules.
My reward was a pretty amazing view of a city sprinkled with lights and rain, housing centuries of history tucked in the winding roads.
After the capsule finally made its way back down to the ground, so ended my first day of London.
Although it was short, it was a pretty memorable day. More than anything, it made me realize that there is something liberating about going to a brand new city by yourself where nobody knows your name. In a sea of people, you can be alone with your thoughts and just soak in the vibe of the activity around you.
Definitely a great way to cross off an item off the list.
Just 28 more items to go!
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22 2 / 2013
Chasing the unicorn: another baby step forward toward writing (booze included)
Growing up, I felt a very close connection to Anne Shirley. Shamefully, I did not become engrossed with her story in the written form until much later (I’m sorry, Lucy Maud… forgive me?) but instead I was introduced to her through the films. They were set in the beautiful landscape of Prince Edward Island, and in the two films (never had the stomach to make it through the last one) I diligently followed her journey of morphing from a resilient, bright-eyed romantic child to an actual published writer.
And you know, the Asian child in me was envious that she aced all of her standardized tests.
I watched those movies countless times. Every time I went to the public library with my mom, I would make a beeline to the shelves and find the worn VHS case with the plastic wrapping ripping at the seams. I’d take it home and relive the magic of dreams (my dreams) coming true. Living vicariously through Anne Shirley gave me hope.
It also warped me. Because, if you didn’t know…writing a book is harrrrrd, guyssss.
And I don’t have the benefit of cut scenes in real life to skip ahead and VOILA … a book is already born somehow.
In any case, just like the young heroine (though double her age at this point, sigh) I decided to take my wobbly baby steps to making my dream come true. Sure, there might not be riches at the end of the road. But I’m a millennial in the true sense, and seeing my name in print is my dream.
Last night, I gathered up the courage to attend the Bay Area Children’s Lit Happy Hour. There, I was really pleased to meet several writers and illustrators and you know… all around nice people. I also had a chance to catch up with a friend that I haven’t seen in awhile.
More than anything, it made me realize that it might feel like a lonely road, but it doesn’t have to be. It was great meeting people who have succeeded in getting something published and are working as writers.
For the record, yes…I had to refrain myself several times from leaping across the table, grabbing them, and shaking them and hissing, “How did you do it? HOW DID YOU DO IT? TELL ME, DAMN YOU.”
Baby steps forward! Although there will most likely be times when it turns into a slow, withering, piteous crawl.
I’m glad that, at the very least, the melodramatic part of me seems fairly well honed.
18 2 / 2013
Five ways dogs live better (and how you can do it too)
As a dog owner, I never wanted to be one of those people that constantly talked about their furry little baby. I used to poke fun at my friend when she threw her sister’s dog a birthday party.
“A birthday party?” said incredulously. ”You do realize that she, in all likelihood, and as astute as she might be as a dog…wouldn’t realize it’s her birthday? Because of the glaring fact that she’s a dog?”
I think I was a little nicer than that, but you get the gist.
Fast forward a few years later, and I’m also one of those people throwing festivities around a milestone my little peach-sized brained dog wouldn’t be able to distinguish (or remember) from any other day. And, of course, my friend has no problem pointing that out to me - which, yes, I deserve.
Our dog is about to turn two-years-old (so a romping teenager in doggie years … my how time flies) and I realized that I can’t imagine my life without him. It’s crazy how quickly a furry little creature can worm their way into your heart after such a short amount of time.
More than anything, I also came to the realization that there are, as cliche as it sounds, quite a few life lessons I learned from him about how to live life…and no, it doesn’t just involve lounging around, playing whenever you want, and getting food handed to you (though that would be pretty awesome).
Being curious about everything.
They say that curiosity killed the cat, but most likely it was rooted out by the dog first. As a puppy, and even now as a quasi-adult dog (I’m still in denial) anywhere we go his nose is to the ground and he’s checking out everything. Sometimes, he often finds treasure in the form of a stick (perfect for chasing around) or…leftover food.
Being friendly and happy…almost all the time.
Part of it is nurture, and part of is nature, but the definitive reason why dogs are a man (and woman’s) best friend is the fact that they always (for the most part) so friendly. As a dog, Moose’s ears perk up whenever a person’s voice goes up an octave, and just like his attention-seeking adoptive mother, he’ll go after it. His butt wiggles fervently, his tongue lolls out with delight … and who can resist a greeting like that? Maybe not in the same execution, but you get the idea.
Never taking anything for granted.
People always talk about how we spoil our dog (and we do) and I had the realization today that one of the reasons it’s a pleasure to ‘spoil’ our dog is because he can never truly BE spoiled in the real sense of the word. Children get spoiled because they come to expect toys and attention, and they start to demand getting things the way they want it. But no matter how many times I bring out a new toy, or give the dog a new treat, he loves it like it’s the last nice thing he’ll get on this earth. It makes me want to continue to ‘spoil’ him, only because I know it’ll never make him demand it from me. (Though he does stuff his nose under my hand a few times for belly rubs, but that’s just adorable).
Napping whenever possible.
Life goes too fast. When you can find a sunbeam, bask in it.
Going with the flow…and being a good sport.
Nothing gives me more joy than to ironically dress up the dog in all sorts of get-ups. He’s been an airplane, a turtle, a hipster, donned Mickey Mouse ears, and even a samurai knot…and he does it all quietly and willingly. Which makes me want to treat him so much he explodes (but I won’t because that’s irresponsible). People like a team player, especially one that won’t take themselves too seriously (and won’t mind being dressed up once in awhile).
Happy frolicking, everyone!
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20 1 / 2013
Cars make you evil
Ever since last week when I started my hour long and then some commute, I’ve been wondering what it is about a car that turns people into…well, assholes.
I’m pretty sure the people on the road are (for the most part) just normal people. I’m sure many of them are lovely. Maybe they are a doting mother, or a sweet thoughtful grandfather. Surely someone out there loves them and thinks the world of them.
But when they climb into the car, it’s like they put on an anti-hero mechanical suit. A suit that gives them the power of mobility and thus seeps into their brain and warps their sense of decency.
I started the new year repeating the mantra to myself, “Be good to each other.” I wanted to treat strangers with, you know, respect. Kindness, even. All of that goes out the window when we are all shrouded in a metal suit of evil. Maybe one day we’ll all be forced to use automatic drone cars that take the power right out of our hands. In the meantime, I’ll just continue to gnash my teeth and pull up next to offending cars and glare as menacingly as I can.
Marathon training wise, I did a short little jaunt today. I eagerly wore the Nike pulse band, only to realize that the only reason it registered for my last run was because the sensor was in the fiance’s shoe… not mine. Blah.
Tomorrow is a rest day (hooray) even though I really should run another three miles to work off the Sprinkles cupcake I just indulged in. One step forward, three bounding leaps back.
The Lion King was randomly on tonight. Sigh. I love Disney.
16 1 / 2013
Here I come, 2013
Sometimes I wonder if I bite off more than I can chew. But at the same time, if I hold myself to doing a lot of things and only obtain just a percentage of them, doesn’t that mean I ultimately do more than if I just set the bar low?
That’s what I tell myself anyway.
But for now, I’m excited (and scared) to say that I have fully committed to running the San Francisco marathon. That’s right, the whole thing. There isn’t a “half” thrown in there to save my soul.
And, in the process of training to run a marathon, I have just recently started a new gig, I’m trying to plan (and attend) our wedding, and doing a few more side projects in the spare time that I don’t have.
I wish that I were one of those people that didn’t need much sleep.
I started a basic first marathon program that I found online and did my obligatory 3 mile run. I was a little ambitious and tried to run at a faster pace (6.8 mph, <9 min mile) but ended up taking one mile a little slower. Tomorrow is a nice 30 minutes on the elliptical.
Oh, and interesting stuff I read today:
Women need to realize work isn’t school (thanks Laura O.)
Crazy Korean plastic surgery makeovers (I just can’t resist)
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15 10 / 2012
Talking To Yourself Can Make You Feel Better
“The way you see things depends a great deal on where you look at them from.” — Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth
One of the things I’ve struggled with in the past is how to be happy. If happiness were a muscle, then I have scoured as many exercise books as I could to figure out how to properly exercise it. One thing I’ve found is that a lot of times it comes down to perspective. Another fabulous quote from my favorite author explains it very succinctly:
“Things which are equally bad are also equally good. Try to look at the bright side of things!”
Isn’t that crazy? Happiness really is a choice. And as cheesy as it sounds, I can’t repeat that to myself often enough: usually the thing I have the most control over in a situation and in life is how I react and how I feel. How I see things.
Because I’ve been repeating this to myself over and over, I thought that (hopefully) this might help someone who likewise has been in my situation (or is currently going through something difficult). It’s easy to stumble and fall…and keep rolling downhill. But it’s definitely possible to grit your teeth and pull yourself back up no matter how painful or difficult it can feel.
A key to happiness might be the way you communicate to yourself. Here are three simple ways I’ve shifted my internal monologue:
Before: “I didn’t get the job because there is something wrong with me.”
Now: “I didn’t get the job because it wasn’t a good fit for me or the company, and it’s better this way.”
Before: “I failed at this, and that means I’m not good enough.”
Now: “I didn’t achieve the outcome I wanted. But, I learned a lot and I have grown from this.”
Before: “Nobody likes me. I feel unattractive. I feel stuck and things are not going my way. I’m spinning my wheels. Is that cramp in my neck from sleeping wrong? Wait, why is my coffee order wrong again? Did that person really just say that to me? ARRGHH.”
Now: “I am definitely not having a good day right now. But hey, things change quickly and it’ll all work out.”
And when in doubt, eat something processed and sugary and nap it off. Or you know, take a quick run around the block. That might be the better choice.
(I’m still working on the self-motivation exercise-speak).
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