On the hill, it wasn’t moving

I had done this a few times previously. I would not turn off the car in the right order—set to Park, turn wheels, take out key. But this time, I messed up.

I came back to discover that the steering column was locked and the key wouldn’t turn. Having rarely driven a car most of my life, I panicked. I tried calmly telling myself that it was something that I could find in the manual. It said to jiggle the steering wheel and the key. I did it first gently, then a little harder. Nothing. Only panic.

I had dropped off the check for my landlord up high in the hills of upper Noe Valley/Diamond Heights. I had slept less than 4 hours the night previously and was looking forward to an evening surrounded by Thanksgiving goodies. But there I was.

Panic again.

I called Chris. With his concerned voice, I let all the pent-up panic, frustration, fears spill out. It was silly. I was embarrassed too. I was reluctant to call anyone else to help me with my disordered list of parking causing me to be in this situation. Not to mention that I was blocking a driveway. He calmly told me the next steps. Nothing. I tried again and again.

And then somehow in the next five minutes, I jiggled the car to life and my Passion Pit CD album came over the speakers. Relief. And success.

In 10 minutes, I struggled happily backing into my garage.

Back then vs. Now

Back then. I used to:

  • Have more online friends than IRL friends
  • Spend my evenings at my computer (for lack of social life, mobility, money)
  • Chat for hours online on AIM with people I had never met in person
  • Hold “phone conferences with up to 6 people on the line
  • Online DRAMAH was the word
  • Now…it has transitioned into “normalcy”! I have found different avenues to fill my needs of companionship, of relationships, of…being needed, of being useful, of being a real person and a friend.

    Roger Ebert describes it accurately in a recent post.

    I was in all words then lonely. Social anxiety, sheltered-ness, lack of social skills, word fumbling kept me from interacting with the real world. There was a horrible moment that I had at my high school reunion on Saturday that made me realize that yes, I had came a long way, but it was so easy to slip back to who I used to be. A lonely soul that only wanted to be recognized and most importantly, accepted.

    I had sought the internet and it satisfied me. It still does. Like the way I write now. I place the words in this box—sometimes I have my music on, usually to soundtracks as of late. I think now about the moments now when I am lonely. It’s less. When I am alone, it’s not that I think of how I am missing out…or how I was cruelly rejected. Rather, I am preparing for something—cooking, cleaning, sleeping…writing. Or I am sending an email, making a comment on Facebook, or sharing something on Twitter.

    There will be one day though in the future though…that I’ll remember that feeling of loneliness again.

    This is why I love my new camera

    Because my Canon Powershot S90 can take photos like this!


    In a place with dim lighting.

    On Auto.

    With no flash!

    Granted, it’s somewhat grainy and low resolution. But still! You can see how Lele is quite expressing a i-do-not-know-who-these-people-are sandwiched between yours truly, Cheez, Shroom. The names mentioned here are not even their real names. The end!

    I drove into downtown San Francisco

    When I moved to San Francisco, the idea of owning a car was ludicrous and absurd. But here I am four years later with one. Initially, it was for taking advantage of that short opening, but when my roommate changed her mind about getting a car, I kept my car around. Well, because, why not?

    My hassle of getting the caltrain was appeased. Plus the huge crisis of how I could get anywhere in the city quickly without transferring multiple times on the MUNI…was resolved. And groceries, oh lovely groceries!

    Yet there are times when after work, I want to go downtown and suddenly I do have a struggle. Do I drive the car back to my place and hop on public transit? Or do I drive downtown? That’s what I did today when I needed to get to First and Mission right after taking the train from Palo Alto.

    But how would I have known that there would be traffic on the 280 in the 2 mile stretch from the Potrero Hill entrance to the 4th Street Exit? I didn’t. And I didn’t understand bus only lanes up 3rd street (I was driving for awhile wondering why there weren’t any cars in the lane). And how would I have anticipated all the traffic on Mission, Market…that area? I didn’t know that it was shopping season already on a Wednesday evening!

    Regardless, I spent 20 minutes circling, but found spot half a block from the building. I struggled multiple times to get into the HUGE spot, but with backing up and moving forward, I got in. I was so proud of myself. I have become a real city adult…with a car!

    Insurance companies, close your ears

    Driving down 280 last Tuesday, I hear a small thud. Immediately, I saw it. It was a nice spherical dime-sized crack on the brand new windshield on the passenger side.

    Let me say that again. A brand new windshield replaced less than 25 days ago.

    After fretting about the dime-sized crack for several days, I finally found the gump to call the auto glass repair that did my earlier windshield replacement.

    Does the limited warranty cover this crack? I timidly asked.

    No. the CSR responded.

    Ok, thanks. I timidly said and hung up. I hate making phone calls like this.

    About 6 hours later, I returned to my car parked on Alma Street in Palo Alto. My car honked back at me when I unlocked it. It meant only one thing. That something happened to the car—something or someone had tripped off the security system.

    The last time that this happened was when the windshield broke in early October. As I got into the driver’s seat, to my horror, it was exactly that.

    The windshield was cracked. Again. Nearly in the same place, but close to the windshield wipers in a great spider web bigger than a dollar bill. I wanted to laugh in irony. Of course, the windshield would need to be replaced, eliminating the dime-sized crack.

    I grumbled as I called my parents…and my insurance company.

    Chris is like Glenn on the Walking Dead!

    Zombies. I am not sure why I am so fascinated with them. In addition to my annual zombie-themed book club (which I hosted today) and the Journey to the End of the Night, zombies is my safe way of thinking of what…apocalypse would turn like. It’s an embodiment of all our fears—losing control, taking away loved ones permanently, the constant feeling of danger.

    My latest? My love for the new show on AMC in the Mad Men time slot: The Walking Dead.

    What I wanted to describe is the character Glenn who surprised me because…he was just like Chris! In these ways:

  • Asian
  • I mean, Asian American
  • Overly resourceful
  • Preference for going at it alone
  • Love for sports cars
  • Questionable skills during peaceful times, but very useful skills in a zombie apocalypse
  • Selfless
  • Wears baseball caps constantly
  • Wears sports shirts
  • Goes out of his way to “save” people even if that means sacrificing himself
  • Volunteer to do the dirty, dangerous missions
  • Incredibly fast runner (for short distances)
  • Plans for escape routes and clear lines of sight anywhere he goes
  • I remember days when I used to chat all day

    There was a time in my life where I would be at my computer talking to friends—ones that I never met, ones that I had met through community boards. I would do this all evening…all day on the weekend.

    Slowly in the past 6 years, habits changed. I started doing “real stuff” during evenings and weekends. Then there comes a rare day where suddenly the day is open. I reminiscence about the long conversations I would have. The impulsive conference phone call. Granted, back then, many of us were in college—almost handcuffed to our rooms due to lack of money and “studying”.

    And now I sit through my evenings—it is silent. I haven’t received an email for more than 10 hours. I spoke out to the empty audience—not once, not twice, more than thrice…out of habit through twitter, facebook and then here. There isn’t anybody responding, but I am ok with that. But I miss the many facets of personalities that I would encounter.

    It’s not that I can’t im the many people I have on my list. There’s more than 10 online right now. But it will be short conversations—how are you? It may last 5 minutes, 10 minutes…lucky if it’s more. And then we would naturally retreat back to our former behavior. It’s because we have gotten older. But I miss you—that you—of the you of those times that we can’t return to easily.

    They never chased me – Intro

    It was the greatest adventure ever. The Journey to the End of the Night.

    What is this thing that I have been raving about for months?

    Journey to the End of the Night is a free street game of epic proportion. Players race through the haunted cityscape of San Francisco to a series of checkpoints, while avoiding being caught by chasers. Those who fall will become chasers themselves, rising in undeath to pursue their former friends and allies. No skates, no bikes, no cars, just your feet and public transportation.

    Last year over 600 participants showed up at Justin Herman Plaza to experience a sprawling night of costumes, alleys, haunted houses, skeletons, bells, stealth, and signatures.

    I DID IT.

    In a story of 8.8 miles, I finished. In contrast to my previous journeys, I had made it from the beginning to the end. Last year, I swore that I wouldn’t do it again, but three weeks before the event, I had forgotten why.

    It was a story of cautious bus stops, bush diving, walking/running in the middle of the street, lucky hesitation, ducking behind cars, walking while always looking over the shoulder, dressing in black, dressing as a t-shirt ninja…and never letting a comrade fall behind (ok that didn’t happen).

    This is the story of how I made it.

    The third is the BEST

    This is a picture of all of us before the fall.

    The entire group before the fall

    Before the group splintered. Before we discovered that some had become chasers. Some were survivors. Before we discovered ourselves.

    This was also 5 hours before I dove into a manicured bush on Fulton and Masonic unnecessarily, gently scratching my skin on my right forearm and ruining landscaping for at least 4 months.