Family Vacation

December 20th, 2014

“No,” I repeated every time my parents suggested a family vacation.

Years of traveling with my parents and the realization of my adulthood (aka I can make decisions on my own now) turned my shaky okays in college to a firm no. For years, I resisted the cruise ship invitations and the possibility of traveling with them on a package tour across Europe. By then, I had discovered the millenial way of traveling—the DIY style of seeking out passions, planning via online reviews and blogs, and the joy of figuring it out all on your own. Falling into snobbery, I could not stand the idea of following a tour guide holding a red flag from attraction to attraction lamely nodding my head to a voice in Chinese as my eyes drifted and my stomach growled.

Besides the occasional trip for a family wedding, I avoided family vacation for more than a decade.

But for my parents’ 35th anniversary, I relented knowing how much they craved family time. My sister and I planned a trip to a farm surrounded by our cooking. In doing so, we remember why family vacations are not our preferred way of spending time together. It’s not that we don’t get along. It’s that my parents vs. my sister and me have grown in separate ways. Our identities have separated and the way of living is so different. The expectations of when I was young is different. I have more worldy experience than my parents and catch the vocabulary. But that certainly doesn’t make me better. Being a child and being a parent is different when the children are in their early 30s. And vice versa, the parents who used to take care of everything now are slower and weaker.

And yet, it’s not only that. It’s the moments and how we want to spend those moments, we can’t appreciate each other in those moments where we believe in relaxing. Instead, they are soaked in the decisions and memories of decades. But I admired my parents as they sang invited by our farm host. Their voices offtune and filled with Chinese accents still spiraled out Christmas songs.

And yet, if we were strangers, I would smile across the dining room table and say, “That was delicious, wasn’t it?”

My mom or my dad as a stranger would nod and say, “Why, yes it is.”

I would have watched The Interview

December 19th, 2014

Let’s be honest.

If Chris wasn’t at a General Assembly class (that was booked months ago) and if I wasn’t having a case of anti tag and bag (aka take everyone’s electronic devices and have them unsecurely checked in outside the theater), I would have been at the Metreon in line to see The Interview.

I am not the first one to admit that from the trailers which I have seen on multiple occasions that I was unimpressed. Fart jokes. And more unseemingly jokes. Sexist and racist jokes. And a mcguffin that seemed preposterous. Yes, it wouldn’t be a movie that I would go out of my way to see.

But you see, the topic. North Korea. Sometimes I do admire Seth Rogen and James Franco. And even with her bit part, Lizzy Caplan, why not? And fellow Asians, well why not?

But then I started hearing news of potential terrorist attacks. I declared that I did not want to die at a movie like this. I didn’t want to go down in history as a victim of someone who went to see a movie that was about people who were making idiotic jokes. And more.

Then stuff happened. And I was just so close.

After doing NaNoWriMo…

December 17th, 2014

…for the second time in 11 years. I discovered that there’s NaBloPoMo.

Here’s the funny thing. Until the last few years, I used to blog everyday. I used to write anything that came to mind in a post. Usually a theme, a scene, a moment. That was so easy for me (obviously evidenced by the more than 10 years in the right column). I am shameless in blogging. In this blog. It’s easy to write short form and I have practiced it for so many years.

I almost laughed out loud. But then I realized that I had always done it, so it comes so naturally to me. All I had to do was build time for it, which by now, had become part of my daily routine.

But to write longform? To write an entire story where I had to set the scene, build the tension, build characters, carry the story with short moments, then long moments, then the arc, and the character transformation? That, my readers, is hard.

In doing all of this, it seems easy because you haven’t experienced it. The consumption part is the easy part. The actual creation part, people think, is easy, because it was so easy to consume. It’s like how people think a company name is easy. It’s how people think designing an mobile app or logo is so easy (look! you can just do it with just a single pen stroke!). It’s how people think that deciding the right color and font face is easy. It may be, but then that person is just very lucky.

It’s not easy until you have experienced it. Then it becomes easy because you have done so often. That you have built a thick skin and have established your body to expect these moments…that it seems easy.

Back in my day, we went to school in the rain

December 11th, 2014

I envy school shutdowns.

The recent storm closed schools in San Francisco and Oakland. Because of the dangerous rainstorm. Now it’s not the rain that caused the danger, it’s the old infrastructure (like in an earthquake) that causes the danger.

When I was in Pittsburgh briefly, I hoped that I would experience a snow day. A glorious day where the snow piles are so high that the only thing to do is huddle inside around a nice fire. No such thing has ever happened in my existence.

Nor has work ever told me to stay at home (except of course of illness). Today was an off day, so I spent it as I would have at home. Huddled around my computer, writing and getting distracted by the Internet. With the exception of strong winds, nothing was amiss.

The only thing that I can think of while the water drips all over the Bay Area, while people moan about poor city storm drains, the floods blocking multiple lanes on the freeways, and the downed power lines caused by wind gusts is…will my favorite fruit be better this summer?

I hope so.

#EatenAlive doesn’t really mean #EatenAlive

December 10th, 2014

Americans hate being fooled. When box of butter has a picture of a redfarmhouse and a happy cow, the butter better be made in a red farmhouse with a ebullient cow standing outside in a grand bucolic environment. When a Youtube video says that it’s going to show the entire movie, it better show the entire movie even if it has 1000 views and 90% downvoted. When a sign says “Do not park here”, Americans certainly have a right to be angry when a car parks in that very spot.

So that brings us to the super fascinating show that promises that a man will be eaten alive by the Amazonian predator the ANACONADA.

Let me be honest here: I am an intellectual. The idea of forcing an animal to consume a person as a stunt is ludicrous and a waste of money. But the idea of going inside? YEAH. And there’s that itch that comes up for every American—I love seeing spectacle. It’s practically part of my blood. It’s partly why I take a quick look when I see a car accident (yes, my heart also goes out for the injured) or listen to arguments taking place in front of my apartment.

So I settled in to watch the special with Chris. In 15 minutes, I fell asleep due to the repeated declaration that a man has decided that he wanted to be consumed by an anaconda. Now, I have seen one man CG consumed by an anaconda and that was Jon Voight in the so-so movie of Anaconda. He winked.

But! Fortunately, my internal alarm is quite accurate and I woke up to find that the man was completely in the anaconda’s grip. Then he suddenly calls for help. Then he says he’s too tired now and that he will continue to find the biggest anaconda in the world. Apparently, he insisted that the armor on his arms and legs be removed. And that’s where the anaconda coiled its powerful body around and nearly broke his bones. Then it ends.

WHAT! What happened to the #eatenalive?

PETA is quite right in being angry for the treatment of the anaconda. But they also are very right in that the anaconda was deceived of its meal. That’s cruelty. Sometimes if you give me a plate of spaghetti and meatballs. My eyes tells my stomach, mmmmm….yummy foodie going into my tummy! The tummy roars in delight and then to have that suddenly taken away, that’s painful. That hurts. I will go into a rage, but because I am a small non-physical person, all I can do is pretty much whine and complain.

So I can say is that Stephen Colbert is right. It’s cruel and unusual. For Americans, we were deceived like the anaconda. Instead of #eatenalive, we got #cuddledalive (#squeezedalive).

Seeking mind-numbing experiences

December 9th, 2014

Every so often, there’s that day.

The day where you get an email from a former flame who wants her record player back, because one year ago, she really wanted you to hear the way that Beatles sound on vinyl. Specifically, the Revolver album.

It’s also the same day when you get into a fender bender on the freeway during heavy traffic at night. A car rear-ends you at a slow speed. You step outside, look at the damage, but you’re so shocked that it happened. You get the driver’s business card and you think five minutes, “The insurance information!” And it’s too late as you see the driver speed off two lanes over.

It’s the day when you spill a little coffee on your white shirt, a pen stain on your hand, and when someone cuts you off in line.

You think to yourself, This isn’t a bad day. This isn’t a bad day. But the moment that you get a text saying that your library books are overdue and your friend cancels dinner, you start to believe that there’s bad luck even though for your sanity, you had to swore bad luck off 5 years ago.

So it’s 8 PM and you seek mind-numbing experiences. Where will you begin?

I was shocked that he came over

December 7th, 2014

…and it wasn’t a good thing.

“They are probably all tools,” Chris said. “Just look at them.”

The party was entering its third hour. The music and the crowd seemed to increase in volume. People stepped all over us as we sat near the bottom of the stairs in faux granite bean bag chairs. Following Chris’ comment, I watched a guy coming down the stairs. He wore a button-collared silk shirt with a print that repeated throughout the material. He was Asian with a short-trimmed haircut and carried a drink in his hand. The guy noticed my eyes studying him and headed directly for me. I could feel Chris laugh silently as I brainstormed options for retreat.

“That looks like a nice chair,” the guy said, hovering above me.

“It is,” I said and mentally kicked Chris for getting me into this situation.

“What are you drinking?”

“Water.”

“Not a drinker?”

“No.”

“A good girl, huh?”

I stopped myself at that moment, frantically thinking of something that would make him go away instead of myself having to leave. “Are you in user experience?” I asked politely.

“Sort of. I heard about it and came here.” He swirled his drink and took a sip.

I narrowed my eyes and became testy. “So what is it? What is user experience to you?”

“An experience for an user. A user that experiences. An experience of an user.”

“I see. It doesn’t sound right.”

“You got me! I am not in user experience! I like your boots.”

I didn’t respond. He leaned over and touched them. Then he tapped my arm and said, “What’s your name? My name is John.”

“I think that my friends are leaving so I am going to go,” I said and stood up, exchanging an angry glance with Chris who sat mute and amused.

“See?” Chris said moments later. “He completely proved me right.”

Broken Windows

December 4th, 2014

This is what I won’t write in my police report:

“Value,” I said. “You just have to show value.”

My friend looked at another friend and me. We had spent the last 45 minutes talking about how to negotiate salary when someone says no. The party was winding down and the noise had decreased to the 3 conversations happening in the room. “Thank you for helping me,” she said.

“Just remember, show value!” I said. “Let me know what happens.”

We hugged and I walked to my car. In the next 10 seconds, I thought about how I had succeeded in building a successful career, about how nice it was that a small boutique agency hosted the party, about where I could get the toffee that was served, and all the lunches/coffee that I needed to set up with colleagues. I pressed the “unlock” button on my keys and sucked in a breath when the car honked back.

It meant only one thing: someone/something had touched my car and the car alarm went off. But I didn’t see anything in the barely lit street. I opened the driver door and gasped to find that the window of the front passenger side door was completely smashed. I walked to the other side of the car and found that the wing door of the back passenger door was smashed. The glove compartment was closed but its contents were all over the seat. The center console was open and its contents was dropped in the backseat and the front seats. I looked to see if anything was missing: my garage door openers were there, the fast track was there, the three cords I keep for car charging still there.

Shocked, I called Chris unsure what to do. Was I supposed to call 911? I remember calling 911 several years ago when I was hit by a car while on a bike and they refused to come since no injury occurred. Was I suppose to file a police report? In the past, I have always done it wrong, losing money in the process. I agreed that he would help me assess the damage.

“Are you okay?” he said when I arrived.

I worried about my bikes and my laptops at my place. Those are my valuable items. I thought about the wallet I lost in DC and how when I got it back, $200 in cash was missing and a few weeks later, my credit cards were used. I thought about how I tossed the wallet shortly afterwards feeling the filth of a malicious stranger. I touched my wallet and my phone in my bag, which was next to me the entire time at the party. I thought about how I keep multiple addresses in my car and whether they would confuse thieves to where I really lived. And then I thought about what a thief thought about my last name of two letters.

Chris observed that my pens and an old pink GPS were missing. He taped up the wing window and told me how the process worked. He had more experience with this than I did, having experience theft more than 3 times.

I decided to go back to my place into my garage where I parked awkwardly. As I diligently put my paperwork into a box, I came across a shard of glass with a red mark. I imagined the thief smashing the window and his fingers grazing the glass. But I didn’t see blood anywhere else. I thought about how I could bring this as DNA evidence and the laughter a cop would say, “That’s not enough to convict.”

So then I went into my apartment. Chris had emailed his police report when his car was vandalized several months ago. I wrote up a police report, and said only a part of what was above.

Phone Meetings

December 1st, 2014

“Um, I am going on mute.”

“You’re breaking up.”

“There’s a bad echo. Can everyone go on mute if you’re not speaking?”

“Can you hear me?”

“Who is the organizer of the meeting? John says that he needs the audio code.”

“Who just joined?”

“Sorry I am 15 minutes late. Can you quickly repeat what you just said?”

“I can’t see your screen.”

“I can’t hear you.”

Bark Bark.

If only everyone I needed to work with were all located in the same place, I would be a happy person. But they never are, so I will always have to listen to conference calls.

Memory is only what we choose to remember

November 30th, 2014

So then, is time what is the function of memory? That time multiplied by personality is what makes a memory?

As of this moment, I believe that my fingers are tapping on the keyboard, giving my thoughts the graceful contemplation. I am sitting in a slouched position in my bed. Half of my body is underneath the covers. Three layers of covers. Outside, I hear the occasional car drive by swirling the water that has fallen from the sky. It is silent now, except for the movie score playing from my speakers. My throat is slightly dry, perhaps due to allergies or hoarseness.

But will I remember this moment? Beyond reading this entry years later? What I will remember will not be this moment, but the sum of all these moments writing these types of entries. I will remember how I love to think, to contemplate, to analyze, to philosophize. The memory of these moments before I close my eyes for the night will return the joy of turning an item over and over again, looking at it at different sides, tossing it up in the air wondering if it will land the same way.

I will remember that. But what I won’t remember is the memory of the time. The time that others will say that I wasted in doing this. It is not productive. How can you hack that time to make it useful?

But I will continue to lie back in my bed with poor posture, my fingers expressing themselves, dancing across the keyboard. Declaring that even if there was a choice, the memory of all of this was already destined because of who I am. I would always make this choice.