How to run away in tag

“Walk in the middle of the street,” my mom told me when I was younger. She was retelling a story of how on the way back from a Farmer’s Market in Oakland Chinatown, she spotted a man following her. Feeling anxious, she immediately walked in the middle of the road with cars surrounding her on both sides.

When playing Journey to the End of the Night, Chris led me to the middle of the road. I trotted behind him, slightly hesitant. People sitting on their porches cackled us. What are you doing in the middle?!?!?!

Running away from chasers in the middle of the street

At some level, it was ridiculous. But a guy in a black skullcap and a girl who stumbled along could be seen as trespassers.

We were walking in the middle of the road to be seen clearly by the chasers (people chasing us), but so that we could see the chasers. In some way, it was to our advantage. It was a game, pretending almost…that people were chasing us and our strategy to…tell everyone was our advantage. But never once did Chris falter, always had his hand out to hold mine to lead us to safety.

Is buying a house equate to happiness?

In the past few months, I have heard of a number friends buying their first home. They have wide smiles on their faces. I placed a bid and they accepted! they would squeal. It happened so quickly!

And I see a look in their eyes…almost saying you all should do the same. And yet, is this the long-term goal? To feel like something is your own? To know that…it is yours only and nobody can walk in at anytime?

My parents rent a huge 3 bedroom house to a family. The same family for more than 10 years. Growing up, I was taught that renting was supposed to be temporary. One day, you buy. You just do. It’s like buying a car rather than leasing it. You buy to keep.

How does owning real estate or property be the real goal in life? That we make financial decisions, career decisions, etc. just to own a home? Isn’t there something missing? There was a blog post awhile ago on a “be frugal” site that praised a couple that rented a $500/month apartment for several years and earned a $80,000 income combined that were able to buy a house (granted only a 150k house in middle America) in full, because they spent money frugally and lived cheaply. Readers sang praises to their success.

And what of it? Why is that a lifelong goal? Isn’t it completely empty once the house is purchased? Does the house become only a symbol of the success?

Maybe I see success as a culmination of experiences. I envy the spontaneous traveler who may not even have a home. There was a woman I met at a party who had traveled globally like a nomad for nine years. She ambled from village to village making her way around by bartering. I was thoroughly fascinated hearing her adventures in mediation and eating strange foods. I am pretty sure she did not save money for a home. I mentioned to her how I have settled in a routine saving a good portion of my salary each month and felt uneasy leaving the expected path of a career.

Why is the American dream the expected path? Owning a house, raising a family…then what?

Hanging out with the girls

I saw an invite to a day in Napa Valley. A day out with the girls, it read. Drinking wine, etc etc. Perhaps throw in a facial, mani-pedi, and a massage.

I was terrified. I imagined myself, trapped in a world that I don’t belong. Awkwardly talking to other girls as they drank wine and casually asking…no, just a bit more polish.

A few weeks ago, I had a meeting with a female colleague and I heard about her exploits with her girlfriends. The trips, the shopping, how much fun it was.

And then I realized how much I preferred going out with the guys to a super-low-brow movie with beer drinking or a monster track rally where I would enjoy myself watching boys get riled up over crushing metal. When I think of shopping, I feel much more at home in an electronics store than a makeup counter or purse rack.

Was there something wrong with me? My last time at a salon made me feel small and inadequate, perhaps because I didn’t know how facials work or the tsk tsk of the beautician as she looked at my face. Or that time at the MAC counter when I so naively said that I didn’t know how foundation worked when out of embarrassment, I spent $40 without thinking just so that I could leave the store. There’s a mixture of social anxiety there, but I never felt at home being feminine.

And yet the idea of hanging out with a group of girls I don’t know or hanging out with a group guys i don’t know…it’s most likely I would choose the latter. What would I talk about with girls??

It’s not that I am a tomboy in any way. I am not coordinated enough for sports—I have a slight disinterest in throwing stuff. But I love tagging along with the boys—seeing the immaturity, observing the absurd masculinity…and ultimately not feel like I am “competing” with them.

On Sunday, a friend was appalled to find that I had no female best friend. I haven’t had one since the 7th grade when the BFF was only let’s-compete type. Of course, there’s my sister. But who do I tell about my relationship issues, the PMS issues (what I still claim I do not have), etc? The same people who happen to be the opposite gender.

Harry is wrong because sex never gets in the way. Only whether they are as good at using Google as I am.

Modern relationships here and now

You grow to love each other, an article described arranged marriages. And that’s the journey when both the husband and wife are looking forward to growing into love.

It stuck me as I watched the movie (500 Days) of Summer today with Daisy.

spoiler alert

I can’t recall the many times that I found myself deluded into thinking this is what I want. And to find that 3 months later, I was foolish to think that I was right.

There was an entire year in Pittsburgh where I had one single person in mind. I did everything in my willpower even when everything seemed to fail. The many awkward moments and ignoring the I am not ready for this. There was one poignant moment I remember at a party…where not because of alcohol (since I obviously didn’t drink any), I suddenly felt comfortable asking a question as the music was pumping, people were dancing around us in the basement of the house.

To my surprise, anger was returned accusing me of asking a question when inebriation was imminent. That I was taking advantage of the situation. I remember leaving the party, licking my wounds.

About four months later, I returned to California. Then two months after, I realized how foolish I was.

The movie spoke of fate and destiny. But to me, it was the world that we create when we think we find the one. I believe that we create our own fate—that we have choices to make. There is always one path where almost nothing will happen and then the other where a connection…although small may change your life.

This is one reason why I have trouble saying no.

And then I wanted to do a surprise party too

In my pompous, self-entitled state a few months ago, I made the odd request, “Will you throw a surprise party for me?”

Then I compiled a list of people I would invite and passed it off as “here’s a list of peeps in case you would need to contact some in dire need”

Then a few weeks later, I retracted on my request, realizing how inane it was and threw my own miracle berry party instead.

A surprise party is best when the organizer is a true organizer, a true planner, one who loves planning. And that the guest of honor is caught unawares and is pleasantly surprised. But how does the the organizer gather the names? How does the organizer not grab the wrong Rolodex or accidentally leave people out?

And most of all, how do you throw a surprise party for someone who has friends ranging from the conservative Christians to Mexican gangsters to celeb-status people with a high 6 digit salary to the lowly janitor met during a bored moment at a party? In my world, the best part of throwing a party is having people from all walks of life gather together…and get along. I love it when friends find something in common and befriend each other. It’s one of the joys of parties for me.

And yet, I realize that a lot of my friends happen to be the same. The designers. The slightly academic. The hipsters. And asian. I don’t deviate that much. And when I do venture into a territory of people not matching those areas…I suddenly feel so out of place. I get angry at myself that I am truly not that diverse.

And so what about a surprise party for someone who has a diverse set of friends? One where he purposefully keeps everyone separate? I always wonder what a wedding would be like. To invite them all? Or be selective and careful about seating arrangements.

I wish I could befriend people out of my comfort zone better. How do I talk up the store cashier anyway? When the only word that stumbles out of my mouth are “No bag” and “Thanks”.

Broadcast relationship status on Facebook

Yesterday on my facebook feed, I spotted a new photo from a friend. A friend I had met at SXSW 2007 and then saw her again at the Web conference last year. She was nice, although I think she realized that she was significantly older than me.

We barely kept in touch. I being in San Francisco and she begin in San Francisco. Yesterday night however, I noticed that…her last name was different. I clicked on her profile. On her wall, I saw notes of “congratulations!” and “i love you!” It was full of happy tear-streaked shrieks and pleasant greetings—the things that happen after a perfect wedding.

How could I have missed it? I am a person who keeps tabs on people—some people would say almost to the point of stalking. And yet, I have fallen in my obsessiveness. It gnawed at me even after I posted an obligatory congratulations and how much I would love to see her if I ever come to the east coast.

And even so, I only had emailed a friend recently when our mutual friend mentioned she was engaged. Engaged since April and I wasn’t even aware! I had been very surprised since she and I went through a phase of “He’s not into you” right after graduate school. I remember a moment at a friend’s birthday that…we had indulged ourselves silly with waffles and ice cream for breakfast. Who cares when there’s not a single boy! we had declared.

I find out in the last few months that another friend is married, another engaged, another broke up with a significant other. It’s all happiness. But the thing is…I keep tabs on those who are close to me. Those I choose to be involved with nearly every other day, every week. I know the secrets, the whispers of betrayal, the indecisive moments.

Brad Pitt recently advised never broadcast relationship status. I agree. I plainly and purposefully do not broadcast my relationship status. I prefer people to ask me and find out. I have a preference of male friends and don’t want an attachment to cloud the potential in this heterosexual world.

I don’t like feeling out of the loop. But somehow I am glad that I have yet to receive a wedding invitation this year. (Oh except you, Karen, but I haven’t received a card yet). My sister has been invited to more than 6 weddings in a span of one year. I am glad that I am not obligated.

I wish there was a way to filter friends by relationship status. And then find the ones who choose not to. Do they think like me? Are they less desperate?

Welcome to the ROCK!

(guest post by Chris after watching The Rock, of course!)

Hearing Sean Connery spout expletives was like a symphony in my head. This was truly the highest of high art. Action in the movie is fellatio for the eyes.

An all-star cast.

There’s not much to be said about a movie that is perfect as it is. No excess. I almost want to say that there is no wasted dialogue. The movie is action is distilled to its purest form.

*some more mumbling*


Thoughts about driving a commute

So far in my 2 week experience of having a car in the city, I have been pleasantly surprised by the comfort and versatility in driving. In being the hipster and frugal person I am, I had never really had a car since high school. Sure there were spurts of going home and driving my parents’ car, but the idea of having a car always never sat with me. Over the years, I had increased skills in making puppy dog eyes to get rides and mastered the public transit system.

But there was the pain of dependency and uncomfortable seats (and fellow passengers). In my 2 years of working in the city, I could bear the 20 minutes or so sitting next to loud, obnoxious people and the smells of a bourbon snuck on in a paper bag. The unfair offenses of someone getting on for free or the conversations I overhear that yanked on my morality and beliefs were sometimes too much.

I liked having someone drive me everywhere. That was ideal.

But in the last 2 weeks in driving around by myself, I have finally mastered the feel of the driving. I drive well in the city, anticipating other cars and making the turns efficiently. Parallel parking is embarrassing.

But there was this comfortable feeling as I drove. This is my space. Pump up the Handsome Furs or ABBA. Nobody would mind. Nobody can tell if I am staring at them or picking my nose. Nobody says…anything. Because we are in our pods, our own environments in motion. I loved it.

On the way up from the South Bay today (while “beating” traffic and driving up 101 at 10 pm), I zoomed in the far left lane. Little traffic. I enjoyed the flow of cars, passing by me. It was easy. Just straight up the freeway and a few turns to my apartment (but difficult parking).

In front of me, I saw a van. At first, it swayed into my lane and then back into its lane. Then it steadied for a few moments and swayed again. I saw other cars around me…almost part as if the swaying van was parting the seas. I would rather be in front than in the back, I thought as the van swayed completely in my lane. No signals. It stayed there for a few moments, then swayed into its former lane as if it had never intended to change lanes in the first place. The van scooted left, then right.

When I was younger and perhaps more of an inexperienced driver, I would have many near death experiences…the near misses of barely scratching a car or almost losing control. There was this unexplainable anxious feeling I would get. An incredible fear that tensed every muscle in my body, my eyes alert, the adrenaline so incredibly high. Then the danger passed, but I hated the feeling.

There was once someone who said, “A drive that is uneventful is the best drive of all.” I disliked that someone for so many years, who had insisted that I should not be driving and recommended that I stay off the streets. My resentment had built up for many years when I would almost not drive anyone any around. And yet driving was so freeing—I could go anywhere.

On the 101 tonight, I gripped my wheel as I passed the van. Pushing the gas all the way down. Chris said that I should have reported the van, but I didn’t know how. I hated the fear that my death could come any moment. I would rather lay the responsibility elsewhere. As I sped toward the city, I saw the fog rise above the freeway in the partially moonlit night.

A man’s job and lifestyle

In my quest to find a route to the caltrain, I debated endlessly about biking, driving, barting, busing…it was a combination of comfort, cost and efficiency. I couldn’t figure it out.

But Chris brought up a good point. That if he was in my position, he would have already been biking the entire time. Fearlessness.

When I do bike, I notice that all the bike commuters around me are male. The hipsters with tight pants and fixies. The old grayed hair commuters with a mirror on the helmets and folding bikes. Then the yuppies with the timbuk2 bags. And of course the facebookers with jack spade bags with the imprinted facebook logo. All male.

Where were the people like me?

Then even on the caltrain. I would lie back in my seat settling into my pseudo-nap. But I would have to always catch myself before falling onto a guy next to me. It was always usually a guy. Today, I scanned the train and the people who got off at 22nd and Pennsylvania. Predominantly male.

What is going on?

I thought maybe there were several factors:

1. Females are not daring enough to take a job south of the city or out of the city. Like many of them, I am willing to sacrifice greatness for proximity.

2. Females prefer driving. Having a car this week has made my life easier (getting to places).

3. Females are a little more sensitive about shared spaces. Sure, I hate sitting in a warm seat, because I automatically assume there are cooties present.

4. Females don’t like biking because not only does it get in the way of the day’s outfit, the shoes don’t work, and who wants to carry 10 lbs on their back. I know I don’t.

So what is it then…a delcration of feminism that I bike, take the caltrain, and do this “reverse commute” from the city? Am I trying to be different, breaking the ground? Or in the end, am I just like the guy on the macbook pro next to me typing furiously with headphones plugged in from his iphone. I can’t help but look at his screen.

I was afraid, then suddenly I was excited

Near midnight, I heard the ping sound on my phone indicating a new text message. Was it Jeff or Beverly? Maybe I had left something at their place.

Then I read the long message:
“I didn’t realize you were trying to get with people on some of these websites. All the way back in may and June. Great job u had me completly [sic] fooled I’m glad I know now that all your affairs I finally surfaced and just by reading your email that u had left this marriage years ago. Thanks for breaking my heart and balls for the last few years I appreciate that you are a lair and a cheater, it’s strange that u blame me because of your own guilt. Well I’ll keep reading and see what else you forgot to tell me.”

Then a minute later as my inbox was full, I received another text:
“I don’t want to fight or argue I want to grab some things so at least I can be comfortable sleeping in my car, or can you throw them out the door please”

At first, I was worried. Would this be a repeat of last year’s incident when a wife called me accused me of sleeping with her husband, thinking that I was the other woman? Last year, it had been amusing, but I came to my senses quickly wanting to spare the woman anguish. Then there was the mike fernando incident (meeting someone randomly on the phone) and other various crazy situations.

I immediately googled the number, wondering if I was being tricked. A telemarketer? Probably not. The phone number was very close to mine, so it was likely someone from the East Contra Costa area. I actually thought it was a woman…and thought about how I would respond. So without much hesitation, I called back. Mostly because I didn’t want text messages waking me up all night long.

I heard a voice answer, “Hello?”

Immediately, I was confused. It sounded just like my dad and I was about to say something along those lines. I stuttered for a moment as I tried to find the words to say something…I didn’t want to stay up too long. “Uh well…I just received text messages from this number.”

“Oh…sorry…those meant for my wife. She’s crazy…”

“Oh that’s ok. I hope you were able to send the messages to the right person. I hope you were able to resolve the issues…” I paused for an awkward moment.

“No not really. I have this scar on my head from the keys she threw against me.”

I winced and responded, “I hope things work out.”

“Thanks, good night.”

“You too”


I received another text (all this time I am somewhat angry that my inbox is filling up and hope this guy stops sending my texts)
“Whoever u are i apoligise [sic] for the text u were not supposed to get. I found out my ‘wife’ was and is cheating on me with a 70year old man, and after she beat me in the head with some keys and after i called the cops im the one that gets asked to leave and check out for the night. So she has a total of 3 affairs which were men all over the age of 60yrs old. So thanks for being a nice voice to hear for once today. I again thank u and have a great day in whatever u do tomorrow. Aaron”

Then another because one is just not enough:
“It must have been a money thing”

I am tempted to respond out of curiosity. I was so tempted to play out the drama and poke my nose where it doesn’t belong. I am curious, so horribly curious. But then I realize how little sleep I have been getting the last few days and don’t want to bother myself with it. So instead, unlike my former immaturity of my early twenties, I resist the temptation and close my phone.