During shelter-in-place, I realized that there are certain things that I am starting to appreciate (of course, recognizing my privilege) which are:
Since I was last in the office. Since technically shelter in place started for me in effect when work mandated that everyone across the company work from home.
I remember distinctly how it felt then. I was angry at the people who were congregating in small spaces. I had a cold or a flu (but not covid) and was acutely aware of how I was going to be perceived by others. I was annoyed at everyone. I was also annoyed at myself for catching something.
But I was thinking that it was going to be temporary.
In fact, that Thursday, I left around 6 pm as I noticed coworkers saying to each other, “I guess that I’ll see you next month!”
I had been pulled into some intense meetings earlier that day, missing the initial company-wide announcement. It wasn’t a choice I wanted to make. And so when I stepped out of those intense meetings, I felt like…something was different. But I gathered as much of my personal things as possible and went home.
And then it was wfh then.
And then things got bigger. There were moments of light. Then it became dark again.
I settled in a routine. Happy with things. But then filled with a certain kind of existential dread. What does this means for my future? What does this mean for the plans that now won’t pan out? What does this mean for everyone I know? What does this mean for the people I hope to know? What does mean?
In some way, most of my goals in life can now be accomplished digitally. I have done almost many things that required to be in person whether it’s travel or being public. But what about all the opportunities that could have been there?
Sadly, it’s not like the apocalypse in books. Society though…hasn’t crumbled. Society is still hanging by a thread. But is this the beginning of the end? Stories always jump to the good part. The aftermath and how people deal. But what happens during? What happens as we all suffer together? What happens as society crumbles very slowly. A crumb after another. When we finally look up, we notice that it is an avalanche that has fallen and society is not what we remembered.
Only because I realize that I haven’t written here since January. And in a separate post, I’ll update with literally everything.
This birthday is going to be so different from my previous years! Interestingly, I would never say that 2020 was a bad year. That’s only in mindset. I would only say that…it was different. Maybe difficult in some ways. Maybe easy in other ways.
1. That a vaccine or some drug arrives swiftly to save this world from Covid-19
2. That the country and the world can actually get along well enough to coordinate and collaborate
3. That the president gets out of the way soon—hopefully a personal decision, but I can only hope the most for the better outcome of the election
4. A “wedding” of some kind that still brings in people that I would want around
5. Finding the best friends
6. Reduction of things in the household
7. Lots of peaches or nectarines!
8. Novel query actually gets out
9. Which means a (good) revision of novel complete
10. Short story accepted and published
Okay, first Previously. I cheated and gave 25 words to a packed year in 2014.
EVERYTHING is fun and good. Alternate reality games, puzzles, and more! We win the Street Food scavenger hunt after multiple crazy videos. Also, travel.
Quit job and start a job in house! Visit Peru, kickstarting an brewing identity crisis involving relationships, location, and everything.
Identity crisis morphs into traveling around the world involving ice cream, writing a book, kickstarter. Visit Argentina, Uruguay, Taiwan, Philippines.
So. Much. Traveling. USA. Canada. Turkey. Italy. Broken promises. Begin to hate airplanes. An AWA writing workshop changes my life.
Identity crisis resolves. Sell crazy ideas. Join a real writing group. On-a-boat writing workshop. Find an ending in Vermont. Discover healthcare. First Nanowrimo since 2003.
Goal is to finish the book. Healthcare calls me. A project inspires my first talk. Visit Brazil. Finish the book.
Publish ICTG. Give two BIG talks. Love winter. Get job that should change my life. 45 gets elected. Rethink job.
Quit job. Say that I need to save the country. Join a wellness company. Visit Thailand/Myanmar. Give another talk.
Change jobs. Again. Speak in Chicago. Side trip to NYC for a concert. Don’t find myself at wypipo writing workshops
Visit Japan in the winter. Work at one job. Never work on my novel. Multiple accidents. Accept me as me.
2019 was the year of getting what I wanted. Sort of. It feels like I am getting closer. But I wonder if it’s about accepting a big part of who I am. Now let’s go through it!
I hope that 2020 will be more of the same—more of getting my goals, especially in writing.
I did it then, so let’s do it again!
I am surprised that I had put down the former manager at Method for my last list. Interestingly, I didn’t really talk to her after I left Method. Beyond a short sweet moment where she actually supported my Kickstarter and a brief attempt for consulting, I only saw her life pass me by from afar.
So let’s see. It should be easy to name 10!
Okay, after more than an hour, it really isn’t. Unlike my previous lists, the names couldn’t come easily. I looked through my contacts, people I talked to on Google Hangouts and Facebook messenger, email, elsewhere. I wonder if it’s because I have a more cynical view of people now unlike the optimism that I had 10 years ago. Also, like most people, I now reject the idea of celebrity and influencer culture. I don’t believe that a single person should be obsessed over. And yet, who really influenced me? Or is it just entities rather than individuals?
Because you know that he doesn’t deserve a name. Before the election, I joked about him winning, thinking that I would move to another country if it happened. Of course, it did happen, but I did not move. But it made me rethink what my purpose was in work and life. Like could I really make a difference? And the type of people I wanted to surround myself with? It made me…as they say…more woke. It made me more aware of the things that I say and do that could affect others. It made me question how I wanted to treat others and how I wanted to be treated.
Just like the one that I did in the last decade, here’s a list!
Obviously, as I observed, the big NEWS events across the world didn’t quite directly impact me. But unlike the last decade, when they happened, I did take stock and make decisions that I wouldn’t have without them.
10. Joining a writing group
This was a long time in making because I had failed in making my own. Not once, but twice. Not that I wasn’t committed, but I couldn’t find fellow committed writers. Also at that time, I wasn’t quite a good group leader. After so many stumbles, I finally found one and stuck with them for five years until I quit earlier this year. The writing group held me accountable in reviewing work regularly and invited me to question what good writing is. I learned that it was subjective—which irked me, but I appreciated how my fellow writers supported each other. It was every week on Wednesday at 6 pm. I went to nearly every single meeting no matter how tired I was. But toward the end, I told myself that I needed something else for my writing journey. Five years changed my life and my writing got better because of it.
And for the decade edition! I first wrote a version of this for the 2000s.
Now that I am settled in adulthood, I feel that things have changed less. Ten years ago, I had already graduated from college and graduate school. By then, big life changes have happened. Granted, in the past ten years, my grandparents have passed all away—that generation has moved on…or in a cynical way, have completely disappeared, stored in medical and historical documents and the memories that we now have left in our mind.
But just like my 27-year-old self, the Internet has influenced me significantly in the last ten years. But more in the way that it has influenced everyone else as the Internet has completely matured and became a tool/power/resource/etc I am less reliant on my laptop as I used to be. And to my displeasure, I became reliant on my phone. But that’s the way I expect it to be, perhaps?
I have always been fond of technology, especially in the way that it connects people. I have always been curious about the new services. But more than the previous decade, I have become more cynical and jaded, swinging all the way from optimism (this service will save us all) to pessimism (this will destroy humanity!) But yet, I can’t deny my attraction to the way that technology makes it easier (and then sometimes complex). In the last decade, technology especially leveraging the collective power of the Internet has impacted my life in ways that I never anticipated.
In the 90s, it was very immature. In the 2000s, it was just trying to find its footing. In the last decade, it certainly was experimenting widely.
Anyway, let’s begin!
Obviously as noted in Silicon Valley, Social Location Mobile! This idea wasn’t exactly that new to me. But the fact that it became a thing finally like nearly 5 years after I had studied and conceptualized it in college. And then it became a bigger thing in the last decade was what struck me. In college, I worked with a graduate student to ideate on the different ways that have location-based services would be like on a mobile device. Now back in 2003 and 2004, there was no such thing as a mobile phone as we have today. Back then, it was this idea of sharing your location or receiving ads. Before Minority Report. I thought that it was interesting, but I didn’t really have the mental framework to make it real. Then in late 2008 (right before I was laid off), I worked with an internal team to come up with an Android app that was essentially similar to Foursquare. Share where you’re at with friends! During the past decade, I was obsessed with Foursquare—later known as Swarm. Letting people know where I was. And in 2011/2012 when I finally relented to get a smartphone, I was obsessed. I would track everywhere I went, perhaps to a detriment. But today, it’s a bit less, a bit more practical. I still track. But it’s almost passive now as everything, everything knows where I am! But the history, now tagged in photos, now automatically shared. It’s assumed. And I am annoyed if the technology doesn’t know!
What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?
In 2018, it was realizing my own qualities. In 2017, it was giving advice in hopes of inspiring others. In 2016, it was the moment that when immersed in the election aftermath that anything could change. In 2015, it was the moment when I realized that I could finish Ice Cream Travel Guide. In 2014, it was when I wrote a well-crafted piece (that I read to a live audience 11 months later). In 2013, it was when light shone in the face of despair. In 2012, it was when I stood up for myself. In 2011, it was a moment of clarity, sincere belief and friendship. In 2010, it was an action of commitment.
When I am feeling uncomfortable with someone, I imagine the conversation that we’ll have. I would say words. A few. A lot. Just enough. The other would understand and nod. They would say “I never knew. I now understand.”
In actual practice, it’s never quite like that. It’s always my words as I have imagined them. Then it’s the unexpected: the other person feels defensive. My words aren’t heard. My feelings aren’t validated. I am wrong. I am misinterpreting things. I am making them feel bad. No matter how much I think that I have prepared. And everything is falling apart in that moment. And maybe I start doubting myself—did I not say it clearly? Was I not supposed to feel that way?
There were two moments this year that…didn’t end up that way although it appeared to be so.
When I gave my notice, I had a very prepared speech—rehearsed for a few days in front of a colleague. The colleague prepared me for potential reactions. At a previous role, out of anxiety and fear, I would start crying—a feminine reaction that often is interpreted in the worst way. This time though, I kept my mind at peace while I stated clearly why I was making a decision. He disagreed, of course, which I anticipated, and we nearly launched into a long disagreement. I quietly took a deep breath and simply said, “I see your point, and I may be wrong. But when I make a decision, I don’t often change my mind.”
And the tension dissipated. It was going to be okay.
The second moment was when my parents, granted, texted me a note of concern about Chris and me. “Is he dedicated?” they said.
As much as I have been frustrated with Chris, I was up in arms about what they said. Because they didn’t understand. And I already had said multiple times that he needs the space to heal. All the pressure isn’t helping. I glared at their message and eventually said, “He shows his dedication in different ways than through words. He’s not good with words. He shows it through the things that he does for people—acts of service. And you know that he has helped you a lot.”
They responded, “Yes, agreed.”
And then it was done.
Maybe there was one more moment. Chris told me his worried about a mutual friend’s relationship. “They’re fighting and screaming at each other all the time,” he said. “You know how they say that some people have irreconcilable differences. They have those differences.”
“But don’t we fight?” I said, thinking about our bickering about washing dishes and all the dusty electronics still blocking the loveseat for over two years.
“Not like them,” he said sadly. “We will be okay.”