I thought that I was a master

I have practiced it all my life
Looking down, looking away
Allergies, would be the instant excuse
I am focusing on the screen
Focused, so truly focused
But eye contact is a definite no
Because they will find out
A natural touch of the face
A hidden swipe
Breathing slowly
This is how I hide it
But I was discovered

I envy those who don’t know what to do

I am a non-acceptor.

When someone complains about their work, but then they spend more than 10 years doing the same thing…and eventually say, “I am comfortable here”.

It is the kind of thing that mows my brain into mush, the kind of thing that a deep scream wants to violently tear through the room…it’s that kind of thing.

But if that someone doesn’t know what to do…then that’s a different kind of thing.

Most people—in general in my observations—don’t have a clearly defined idea of what they want to do. It’s usually aligned with a I want to make money so that I can be like everyone else.

Unfortunately, when I was 8 or so, I had decided that I wanted to create. Create big things…create ideas…create masterpieces…and create things that could change people…to make people say “Wow, I never had thought of it that way before.”

Of course, along the way, I found that I had a natural talent for analytical subjects—math, science…development. I was good at project management…and had this slightly organizational side (digitally, fyi). And so that smothered some of that creative yearning.

I wonder if everyone is born with natural motivation, goals in mind. It doesn’t seem like most people are both with it. After all, if that’s the case, then we wouldn’t have so many bus drivers, so many cashiers, so many accountants. Or are there people who really dream of being a cleaning lady?

There was once a friend said that careerwise, she just wanted to do something easy. It was appalling to me. But I have Western middle-class ideals completely entrenched in higher education and yuppie-ness—aim higher. Add oil!

Stalking was an interest (on Facebook)

Facebook made me remove “stalking” as an interest. Or rather, I was becoming aware that friends who didn’t know me…might take that the the wrong way. So I stuck to writing, watching movies, eating as primary interests.

There’s something incredibly compelling about Foursquare, Gowalla and all those other location-based applications.

Back in 2003…or even 2002, I was wary of such things. While at Berkeley, I did research in location-based mobile applications in Friend Friend to Coupon Pusher…I didn’t get it then. But I get it now.

Where the reason why people engage with technologies…it’s more of a broadcast, it’s enlarging the “hey look at me” shout, it’s becoming part of something bigger.

And it allows stalking.

But what’s wrong about stalking? Surely, this story about a woman “stalked” by a man through a phone…isn’t the creepy part? I thought technology is supposed to allow us to get over hurdles, perhaps commit a few social faux pas, but ultimately it’s supposed to allow us to connect better.

Who was that person who said How can you be friends with someone who you never met?

Oh right, that was one of my friends in college.

In 2005, I would read the bios on a department pages at school. Then at a party, I would walk up to someone I recognized…perhaps commit a faux pas in reciting what I read…but then we would talk. It led to two successful friendships.

In the past year when I started using those location-based services…I have yet to use it to connect with people. There was one time when I saw a user’s tip on Foursquare…and thought that it was incredibly insightful…that I went up to the person and thanked them for sharing. I received only a blank stare…not even a smile.

What’s wrong with the sudden jump from the digital world?

Some may point to my request to meet people who tried to add me on Yelp or Facebook…so that I can verify that they are friends. I am still friends with one of them. Many of them were offended that I refused to be friends with them on social networks unless I had determined that they were of friend-able nature in person.

My point is…why can’t we allow those social networks, this technology help us climb over the barrier that is built? Why can’t we make it easier to talk to each other? At least so that I don’t have to suffer here…in this self-built social anxiety.

I used to be an embracer, now I am just standing still

I have always loved technology. Not because of its abilities, but the differences it could make. Like almost everyone of my generation, technology was a means to an end. To make communication easier. To make creation quickly. To be closer with everyone.

When Friendster came out, I was immediately on it. The same with Orkut…and many others. Same with Facebook…and all these others. In college, I was slowly saving for gadgets. First…web cams, digital cameras…mp3 players…it was fascinated.

But when the iPhone came out, I back-pedaled. Perhaps it was the fact that everyone wanted one. I have a history of trying to be different. Then one year passed, I still had a Nokia. Another year passed…and another…I upgraded my phone to a Blackberry Pearl. Without a real sufficient data plan. And yet…I still refused to get a full smartphone.

I was suddenly that minority. I do borrow smart phones frequently from work. But there’s something absurd about it all that causes my own reluctance.

Like Hayao Miyazaki of Spirited Away and My Neighbor, Totoro fame, there’s something incredibly isolating about those personal devices. I admit that I am dampened by my ever-present social anxiety in public places…but I do want to have the ability to talk to people without feeling like I am interrupting their concentration on a small device. But there’s more.

What happened to arriving on time to places? Yesterday was the first time in a long time that I had arrived on time without calling or emailing the day of. In fact, the time had been set five days prior without a single reminder. Was that ok? Of course it was.

What happened to serendipity? I know that I am cursed with wanting to research all places? Sure there are apps on phones that can surprise you in suggesting a nearby place that you may be interested in viewing…but it’s often too incorrect. What if we could browse, walk, look…allow ourselves to be pleased with an unexpected enjoyable surprise? What if we looked at buildings, people…instead of checking the digital map in making sure that we’re going the right way?

What happened? I miss phone calls.

At least now I feel closer to people that I cannot see regularly.

I don’t know his last name

“I have no idea what Chris’ last name is,” he said over im when trying to set up a man date.

I felt almost insulted. More appalled.

This friend and Chris have met up with each other intermittently over the past few years, especially when I am around. But could there be an excuse?

1. They met at least three years ago. However, any contact that they have had has been through me.

2. We stayed at the friend’s place in the summer of 2008. I didn’t mention his last name.

3. I post photos on facebook tagging Chris. But perhaps the friend never noticed the tag.

4. I send email blasts to many many many friends often cc’ing Chris. But perhaps he never looks at the recepients…even when Chris rarely if ever replies.

And so forth. Well it probably could be possible. Now!

Six hours of play

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” – Plato

And I would say…in 6 hours of scavenger hunt, you will learn more about your partner than you will in a lifetime of just co-existing.

When there is a goal at stake, varying energy levels, athletic levels, working styles…everything can break apart.

Chris’ favorite reality show is the Amazing Race, because he imagines himself doing it one day. I know now that I couldn’t be that partner—I don’t have the stamina or energy.

Like how my previous roommate would test out his new girlfriends by going on a trip to an exotic destination for days…I found that…scavenger hunts…a huge game provided so much more.

Things you certainly discover:
Will your partner wait for you if you’re tired?
Will your partner yell at you to catch up?
Or will your partner yell “Good job!” as you run up the hill?
Knowing that the boat is leaving, will your partner extend his hand so that he pull you forward?
Will your partner tell you where you’re going next?
Or more specifically, how much longer it will take to get to the next destination?
If you fail at a puzzle, will your partner still hug you for giving a good try?
Or better yet, if you look like you are going to fail at a challenge, will your partner give the judge a very evil eye willing the judge to let you just pass?
Most importantly, will you and your partner cross the finish line together?

Having a car #3: I can go faster

According to the GPS, it said that I would arrive back in my place at 7:20 pm. I had an appointment at 7:30 pm and certainly did not want to embarrass myself with my nonexistent parking skills.

So I pushed the gas pedal.

60 mph

63…65…75…80 mph.

Slowly the GPS said that I would arrive at 7:19 PM. Then about 20 miles later, it said 7:18 PM.

It’s like amazing! Because before, I would always have to say..a certain time. No earlier ever.

I always wondered though when airplanes are delayed…and they say that they’re trying to make up the time…are they really taking shortcuts and going faster?

What is a real dealbreaker?

I thought about all the dealbreakers I normally would have for the significant other.
The insistence for paying for cabs. The driving of a two seater. The inability to fix my computer. And more.

But then I thought about it more. Are they even real? Could I deal with it if I compromised…and let my stubborn requirements go?


But here’s real dealbreakers:

  • Inability to talk easily with my parents (and my parents are so easy to talk to)
  • Lack of compromise and collaboration for my behavior, beliefs, etc.
  • Lack of understanding for those above
  • That’s really it. Because everything else can be adjusted to what will work well for the both of us.

    This is my independence!

    I am in my late twenties…living in the city…still unmarried. And sure I have felt the pressure here and there, particularly from people who don’t live in the city. But other than that, it’s the norm. It’s ok to be female and single. My entire social circle…nearly unmarried even though many are in long-term relationships. It’s ok.

    There is one friend who laments the sorrow of not being in a relationship. She and I went to see a chick flick once—not of my choosing, but because I just wanted to hang out. It was…almost offensive to me. To submit to the wills of someone else—especially a male one? Insulting! The thought of that rippled through the angry asian girl inside me.

    Every so often, I talk with friends about our intents of relationships. Our expectations. There’s always a story that I tell back in September 2006. The first weekend, a male friend took me out to a nice fancy place for dinner. He insisted on paying. The following week, another male friend “tricked” me into dinner and when the bill came, he dropped his credit card without even inspecting. Then the third week…you see…Chris and I went to a local sushi restaurant and when the bill came, we looked at it and split it evenly. Two credit cards on there. You could say that I was enraptured.

    So when I came across a so-called Korean “Sex and the City” on Hulu, I was intrigued. Named The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry…yeah! I sat down and watched the first episode since other trashy shows weren’t as appealing on Hulu. For awhile now, I had been wondering what this fervor over Korean romances and dramas was all about.

    BUT it was nothing like I had imagined. My female Korean friend from graduate school…had insinuated that relationships are about where the girl just waits patiently until the guy comes around. But to me, that wasn’t it. I hate being passive aggressive even though I know that I can be. What surprised me was that…it was expected that in Korea that women marry early! And that it was almost a shame to the family when a girl was still unmarried in her early 30s. What happened to career stuff?

    I am glad that I live in the states.

    Having a car #2: I can leave work…like whenever!

    Before having a car, usually I was in these TWO situations:

  • Catching a train (ideally the bullet)
  • Getting a ride from someone
  • Actually that is all, especially from Palo Alto. (In SF, there were additional means and less pressure for transit.)

    There was a time pressure. I had to leave otherwise, I wouldn’t catch the train. Or that I was making someone wait for me unexpectedly.

    With car, I could…magically leave whenever I wanted. Which in some ways is a dangerous thing. But at least after work, I have no obligation to leave except to myself.

    Just like when I used to work in the city, the potential after work is boundless. Nothing constrains me…because suddenly the world is much more open to me.