If you want to have more $$, then find a way to make more $$

In a money blog that I used to regularly read, the adage was that if you want to have more money, then find ways to make more money.

And yet, after some failed attempts, I don’t really know exactly what that is. I dabbled in doing user experience design as a consultant—but I find that I can only do it 8 hours a day. I don’t have anything valuable that I could rent out? I don’t like the idea of spending extra time away from what I enjoy doing.

And so then that’s the rub. I am pursuing my own idea of happiness. And so why do I need to pursue more $$? I am perfectly happy in my own world of cooking, writing, and planning the next exciting thing. I am always looking to connect with others in hopes of increasing my connections that could lead to something bigger. And improving myself.

Why does it have to be about money?

I know where and who I want to be in 5 years

In frustration last week, I asked twitter almost in a moment of venting, Doesn’t everyone know who they want to be when they grow up?

Oddly enough, a friend—a former roommate who spent a summer during college at CMU and now is attending graduate at University of Chicago—responded that it was still difficult and that she wish she knew.

I think I was alluding to success. To the pursuit of happiness.

But how do I know? Or at least…why do I at least…think I know?

I always talk about a time in the 7th grade when I saw a girl who seemed happy and chatting with her friends during an assembly. At that time, I decided that I wanted to be just like her. I wanted to be confident and popular. And so I could say that with that goal in mind, I spent the next 15 years trying to be her. Or that I would watch a movie and suddenly fixate on a character—I suddenly want to do that, I want to be as awesome.

I always knew what I wanted to be. A writer, a singer, a scientist?

Was there ever a period that I didn’t know what I wanted to be? Sure. While in college, I realized that I didn’t enjoy computer science. But for several years, I refused to believe it and figured that if I just got better at it, things would turn around. Fortunately, I discovered human computer interaction in time, I was able to squeeze myself into the field and ultimately got my masters in hci. Perhaps it was fortunate—because I did find something that was very close but perhaps not perfectly what i wanted to do.

What happens to everyone else who doesn’t find their niche? Do they wallow and wonder? Perhaps, because they don’t know any better? Perhaps because they have punched themselves over and over again…saying that they can’t be as good as…that they are just unlucky.

It’s what you make of it, I would say. And yet even in 5 years, I am still not sure where I want to be. All I know is that I want to be happy.

And in the crowd, I suddenly wanted to throw a tantrum of mass proportions

In summary: I will never go to another music festival. I will never go into the mosh pit. And if I go to a concert with someone, we will discuss what will happen if we get separated.

The last time I went to NSSN was in 2006. At that time, I even knew even though it was all my favorite bands at the time—The Shins, Silversun Pickups and the Killers. I hadn’t even planned on going then until a friend emailed me:

How’s it going! I just bought two tickets to Live 105’s Not So Silent Night, forgetting that I can’t actually make the night of the concert (I’ll be in Dublin, Ireland :0) ). If you haven’t heard, details are here. I was going to sell them online since I think the show is going to be sold out in a little while, but feel free to let me know if you’d like them for what I paid ($114.10 for the pair).

I thought sure why not. The music of course was great. And I went with Chris—it was one week before that fateful day. We didn’t get separated, but we found ourselves squished against the grate, without room to breathe. I decided right then that I wouldn’t ever go to another festival like this again.

But then I found out that two of my favorite bands—Metric and Muse were playing at NSSN this year. And a band with a lot of buzz…Vampire Weekend. I could not pass it up after almost slapping down my cc to go see Muse in NYC at the Giants Stadium. And so we got floor tickets. But Metric’s set was short. And during AFI (the set before Muse), I couldn’t hold onto Chris anymore and let myself be swept away. I could feel the elbows behind me. The tightness of people pushing forward and backward.

At some point as I swept backward, I lost my balance and fell into a pit of people who were dancing without any intent…in a circle. I screamed, but my ear plugs were in…so I couldn’t tell if anybody heard me. But immediately two strong hands grabbed my arms and picked me up. I put my hat back on and looked around…whoever it was…was already gone into the crowd. And as I breathed again, everything was swirling around me and I nearly blacked out.

Suddenly, I was alone in a place where nobody was pushing and shoving. AFI had ended thankfully where I spent most of the set trying to protect myself. Putting my arms in front. Self-preservation that I didn’t remember that set at all. I checked my phone multiple times and texted Chris. But he didn’t reply. My frustration was mounting. My anger at all of this. Why couldn’t I hold on? Why couldn’t he? And as I glanced around, I was jealous of the couples, the friends who never got separated. At this point, I saw a friend of a friend jump forward, dance forward, so excited.

And I realized how I hated experiencing things like this—music—all by myself even if I was surrounded by thousands of fans. I wanted someone to poke, to prod, and say hey don’t you remember this song and we would remember the same memory in two separate minds and we have a shared secret smile.

I was steaming. But when Muse finally started with Resistance, I had calmed down. And I started thinking methodically. Move forward. He’s probably pinned again like what happen in 2006 and that’s why he couldn’t reach his phones (he really had two phones). So when New Born started, I found an opening and squeezed forward. I saw a head like his—curly, but not a full head of hair. I leaned forward and reached my arm out in front of two people. I tapped his head—sweaty, obnoxious. He turned his head as much as he could and spotted me. His hands—usually never sweaty—grabbed mine and I could feel our neighbors were annoyed. But I found him, finally finally.

Earlier I had said that I wanted to be in a place where I could have personal space. But here there were arms all around me. I love Muse, but to be part of one single body moving right and left when the entire crowd felt like it…I couldn’t take it. And so we moved back…finally. And suddenly I could feel cool air. It felt good.

We stood back and listening to Starlight. Our song. And sang along.

This is where I would say that it was something I wanted to do again. But no, this I absolutely mean never again.

I just wanted to share it with someone

Companionship. Chris called it an “activity partner”, because that’s what he thought we were until the night at the opera house.

Chris had been disappointed so many times about flaking friends…perhaps dates gone wrong. As so many of us had. He only wanted someone to do stuff with. And when I said yes…absurdly yes to everything he asked me to do because I was in a stage in my life that I said yes to everything…he was happy.

Talking today with Joe, it is companionship that we’re all seeking. I used to say that I could survive with only friends and not a lover. Because the latter would always disappoint constantly. That was in college when I easily forged what I believed were deep and strong friendships—people who I talked to on a daily basis and even communicated in so many ways that I felt we were connected in blood.

As I got older, everyone I knew (along with myself) drifted into their own circle. Surrounding themselves with a select circle of friends. I did the same and yet I lament the so-called friendships I had during college and graduate school. As I sit hear on a couch in front of a large tv, there isn’t anybody to share my horrific failure on Fat Princess or the excitement I am having for the SF Food Wars. I sometimes say something on Twitter to expel the sudden loneliness. Or as I am doing now…writing a blog post.

But I am assured by the fact that tomorrow I’ll pick up Chris from the airport and my obligatory companion will be back!

In DC in October, I deliberately chose to tour DC by myself. And yet while at The International Spy Museum, I had felt suddenly lonely. I mean, it was an incredible experience satisfying the spy in me. Perhaps because I knew few people who would love it—the James Bond, the Jack Bauer, the international man of mystery. And that I saw more people experiencing exhibits together than alone like an art museum. My “>yelp review was flattering, but I had kept thinking…what if someone had came with me.

There was a project I worked on last year where the primary persona was a woman who would go to Disneyland by herself. Is that a Quirky Alone?

A new way to make eggs! Hot spring!

I didn’t realize it that I had made it so many times before. In hot pot or when I was making noodle soup and didn’t have other protein on hand.

Today, I opened my Harumi’s Japanese Cooking book. It opened to Japanese Risotto.

Because of a sudden social anxiety attack on Monday (I went to Pak Wan and ordered two nann and chicken tikka masala…and in a sudden desire to get it over with, I nodded my head to any question he had including do you want rice? 2?), I had a lot of leftover basamti rice. On the web, I read fears that rice that was reheated would have tons of bacteria…and even though I didn’t believe such things. I didn’t want to let the rice sit in my fridge untouched for a week. I needed to make something. Rice pudding? Something…

And this recipe! It was so simple. I did use Indian basamati rice and used chicken stock (no dashi stock unfortunately) with random greens (green leaf and cilantro rather than Japanese parsley) flavored with Penzey’s mix of spices and soy sauce.

But the EGG! For almost a year, I heard about the slow-cooked egg at Coi. Only recently was my curiosity mounting that I looked up what “slow-cooked” meant. It was slow. Immersing an egg in some flask for the better part of an egg over low heat. Just like a slow cooker!

But for this hot spring egg which originated from cooking in hot springs in Japan…it was taking boiling water and pouring it over a raw egg for at least 10 minutes. So simple!

I typically like sunny-side up eggs for the purposes of separating the yolk and whites. I wonder what a restaurant would say if I requested a slow-cooked egg. Sorry, we only offer scrambled, over easy and sunny-side up.

Tomorrow, I think I shall bring an egg to work since we have ample boiling water. Now I just wonder…how will I be able to transport an egg without breaking it?

I thought you would have trekked around the world!

“You seem like the type of person who would have gone around the world already!” a friend said a few years ago.

At the time, I winced. As much as I have traveled around the country domestically, I had not been outside the United States that often. And most of the time, it was on my parents’ dime—China, Hong Kong, The Netherlands, France, Australia, Canada, Mexico and a few islands in the Carribean. In February/March of this year, I added Thailand and Cambodia to the list.

To some, that might be a lot. But it was nothing compared to several people I have met—like my roommate who traveled to Peru, Japan, Vietnam, and soon some African country in the last few years….all because he could. Or other friends who had spent months in South America braving high elevations and speaking Spanish for weeks. I was just a feeble (Asian) American who didn’t understand backpacking and the challenges of figuring out a foreign country.

And so with my friend’s upcoming wedding in Hong Kong, I decided that I would swing by Vietnam. Almost an impulsive desire to see if I could brave it.

I would be in a land where I wouldn’t understand a single word—except maybe a few similar words in Cantonese. I would point and act American…but I would try my best to fit in. That’s what some say is adventure. I can’t wait to eat tropical fruits.